The actress said she's still processing the HBO series' eighth and final season

By Aurelie Corinthios
March 17, 2020 11:47 AM
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Game of Thrones weathered some serious criticism over the course of its last season — so how did the actress at the center of it all feel about the epic saga’s controversial conclusion?

In an interview with The Sunday Times, Emilia Clarke reflected on the eighth and final season of the hit HBO show, which saw her character Daenerys Targareyn descend into tyranny as the Mad Queen, massacring a whole city before meeting her abrupt end at the hands of her nephew-slash-lover, Jon Snow (Kit Harington).

Isaac Hempstead Wright‘s character Bran Stark ultimately prevailed as King, and Jon Snow was sent back to the Night’s Watch, heading off beyond The Wall in the finale’s closing scene.

Clarke, now the star of The Seagull in London’s West End, said even though she had known the ending long in advance, she’s still processing it.

“When the show did end, it was like coming out of a bunker,” she told the Sunday Times. “Everything felt really strange. Then obviously for it to have the backlash it did …”

“I knew how I felt when I first read it,” she continued. “And I tried, at every turn, not to consider too much what other people might say, but I did always consider what the fans might think — because we did it for them, and they were the ones who made us successful, so … it’s just polite, isn’t it?”

Credit: Courtesy of HBO

Clarke, 33, admitted she “felt” for her beloved character in light of her tragic downfall.

“Yeah, I felt for her. I really felt for her. And yeah, was I annoyed that Jon Snow didn’t have to deal with something?” she said with a laugh. “He got away with murder — literally.”

She also said she agreed with the critique that the final season condensed too much in too little time, and that it could have used more dialogue.

“We could have spun it out for a little longer,” she said. “It was all about the set pieces. I think the sensational nature of the show was, possibly, given a huge amount of airtime because that’s what makes sense.”

Credit: Helen Sloan/HBO

She does add, though, that she believes “the global temperature, how much horrific news there is consistently, goes a way to explain the enormity of the fans’ outrage.” (The series finale, in particular, faced some of the harshest backlash, prompting viewers to launch a petition calling for the final season to be remade with different writers. The petition, launched on change.org, racked up over 1.8 million signatures.)

“Because people are going, finally, here’s something I can actually see and understand and get some control back over,” she said. “And then when that turns, and you don’t like what they’ve done…”

Ultimately, she acknowledged that having to cater to such a massive audience takes a toll on an actor, saying, “Doing a show so many people had opinions about doesn’t serve your creativity on any level.”

Overall, the cast has been outspoken in their defense of the show, Harington in particular.

“I think no matter what anyone thinks about this season — and I don’t mean to sound mean about critics here — but whatever critic spends half an hour writing about this season and makes their negative judgment on it, in my head they can go f— themselves,” the actor told Esquire last year.

Harington, 33, also pointed out how hard the cast and crew worked over the past decade.

“I know how much work was put into this. I know how much people cared about this,” he said. “I know how much pressure people put on themselves and I know how many sleepless nights working or otherwise people had on this show. Because they cared about it so much. Because they cared about the characters. Because they cared about the story. Because they cared about not letting people down.”

“Now if people feel let down by it, I don’t give a f—,” he added. “That’s how I feel.”