Last month, Emilia Clarke revealed that she underwent two life-saving brain surgeries over the last eight years to correct two different aneurysm growths

By Helen Murphy
April 04, 2019 08:24 AM
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Jason Momoa is supporting his onetime onscreen love, Game of Thrones costar Emilia Clarke.

The actor, 39, opened up about Clarke’s health journey in a red carpet interview with Entertainment Tonight ahead of the Game of Thrones season eight premiere on Wednesday night.

Last month, Clarke, 32 wrote an emotional essay for The New Yorker in which she opened up about undergoing two life-saving brain surgeries over the last eight years to correct aneurysm growths.

Clarke has since created a charity, SameYou, to raise money for people recovering from brain injuries and strokes.

“I’ve kind of been a part of that whole situation for a very long time, so we’ve had so many scares and trying to find the right way to come out and help,” Momoa, who played Clarke’s character’s husband on the show, said. “I just think it’s beautiful that … she’s so brave in helping the world and trying to raise awareness.”

Jason Momoa and Emilia Clarke
| Credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for AFI

“I’m very sad, because we almost lost her numerous times,” he added. “So, I love her to bits and she’s here and she’s going to do great things with it and teach the world.”

Later in the interview, Momoa shared that he was rooting for Clarke’s character Daenerys to end up on the Iron Throne at the end of the series: “My Khaleesi!”

Earlier this week, Game of Thrones stars Sophie Turner and Maisie Williams also commended Clarke, calling the actress a “fighter.”

“She’s great, she’s really, really on form,” Williams told Extra.

“Talk about a fighter,” Turner, 23, said.

“The launch of her charity … we are so proud of her,” added Williams, 21. “I’m happy she can share that with the world, and inspire other people who are going through things.”

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In her essay, Clarke explained that her health problems started in February 2011, soon after wrapping filming on Game of Thrones’ first season. She said she was working out with her trainer in London when she felt a headache forming.

“My trainer had me get into the plank position, and I immediately felt as though an elastic band were squeezing my brain,” she wrote. “I tried to ignore the pain and push through it, but I just couldn’t. I told my trainer I had to take a break. Somehow, almost crawling, I made it to the locker room. I reached the toilet, sank to my knees, and proceeded to be violently, voluminously ill. Meanwhile, the pain — shooting, stabbing, constricting pain — was getting worse. At some level, I knew what was happening: my brain was damaged.”

Jason Momoa and Emilia Clarke
| Credit: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

After being diagnosed with a subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH), which is a life-threatening type of stroke caused by bleeding into the space surrounding the brain, Clarke went into emergency surgery.

Emilia Clarke
| Credit: Andrew H. Walker/Variety/REX/Shutterstock

She spent four days in the intensive care unit before spending another week and a half recovering. Clarke said that two weeks after surgery was an important marker to check her progress, but it did not go well, and she was unable to remember her name.

“In my worst moments, I wanted to pull the plug. I asked the medical staff to let me die,” she said. “My job — my entire dream of what my life would be — centered on language, on communication. Without that, I was lost. I was sent back to the I.C.U. and, after about a week, the aphasia passed. I was able to speak.”

Clarke was able to leave the hospital and continue working, but she was warned that there was another, smaller aneurysm on the other side of her brain that could “pop.”

Though she returned to Game of Thrones, she said filming the show’s second season was a massive challenge — “If I am truly being honest, every minute of every day I thought I was going to die,” she admitted.

Emilia Clarke in Game of Thrones
| Credit: HBO

In 2013, during one of Clarke’s regular brain scans, doctors found that her second aneurysm had doubled in size, and required a second, but “easier” operation. However, it didn’t go as planned.

“When they woke me, I was screaming in pain. The procedure had failed,” she wrote. “I had a massive bleed and the doctors made it plain that my chances of surviving were precarious if they didn’t operate again.”

After a painful recovery, Clarke’s health steadily improved.

“In the years since my second surgery I have healed beyond my most unreasonable hopes,” she said. “I am now at a hundred percent.”Game of Thronesreturns April 14 at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.