game of thrones

Emilia Clarke Learned How to Lean In As Daenerys by Watching Cate Blanchett in Elizabeth

Yaass, queens. Photo: Channel 4 Films, HBO

While speaking to The Wrap at Wednesday’s Power Women breakfast, Emilia Clarke revealed that she had to work hard to be taken seriously for her role in Game of Thrones. “The role of Khaleesi is tall and willowy and blonde. I’m short and round and brown,” she said. “So they weren’t like, She can do that role, easy!” Even after she’d inherited the role from The TudorsTamzin Merchant, who was cast in the show’s original pilot, Clarke prepared to be play the Mother of Dragons by watching “as many strong women” as possible — Cate Blanchett in Elizabeth most of all. Thanks to “the fact that it’s rooted in reality,” she says, Blanchett’s performance in the 1998 film made her “able to replica a real, strong female leader.”

In her speech at the event, Clarke said that she can still “see the cracks” of Hollywood sexism opening up and threatening to swallow her. “People perceive there is a difference in how men and women should be treated,” she said. “It seems to not be discussed. You just begin to see that you, as a girl, are treated differently, even when you’re playing the Mother of Dragons.” And even though she’s not in command of three fire-breathing dragons in real life, she says some of Daenerys’s inner strength has rubbed off on her: “Being able to play this strong girl, you can kind of take notes and see how I can apply that to my own life.”

Emilia Clarke Based Daenerys on Cate Blanchett