Emilia Clarke has revealed that she suffered and survived two brain aneurysms while filming Game Of Thrones.
The actress, 32, who plays ‘Mother of Dragons’ Daenerys Targaryen, shared in a candid interview with the The New Yorker that she had her first aneurysm in 2011.
She said: ‘Just when all my childhood dreams seemed to have come true, I nearly lost my mind and then my life. I’ve never told this story publicly, but now it’s time.’
Scary: Emilia Clarke has revealed that she suffered and survived two brain aneurysms while filming Game Of Thrones
Emilia then explained that she had just finished filming the first season of the HBO fantasy series when she had her initial brain aneurysm while working out with a trainer.
She revealed that she had been undertaking exercise to relieve the stress of her newfound fame but soon started to feel a ‘bad headache’ and fatigue’, yet she forced herself to continue the gruelling workout.
However, when Emilia got into the plank position she felt as though ‘an elastic band were squeezing her brain’ she then ran to the changing room where she became ‘violently, voluminously ill’.
Fearing for her life, the star admitted she said to herself ‘I will not be paralysed’ as she tried to keep her ‘memory alive’ by reciting her lines from Game of Thrones.
Health: The actress, 32, who plays ‘Mother of Dragons’ Daenerys Targaryen, shared in a candid interview with the The New Yorker that she had her first aneurysm in 2011 (pictured in character in GoT series one)
Emilia, who was just 24 at the time, added that a woman next to her in the stall put her in the recovery position as an ‘unconsciousness settled over her’ as she was wheeled into hospital.
When she arrived at hospital Emilia’s condition couldn’t be treated with drugs because the doctors didn’t know what they were dealing with yet, but she was quickly sent for an MRI where they diagnosed her with a subarachnoid haemorrhage.
This type of hemorrhage is a life-threatening form of stroke, which is caused by bleeding around the brain and a third of patients die immediately or soon after suffering one.
She said: ‘Just when all my childhood dreams seemed to have come true, I nearly lost my mind and then my life. I’ve never told this story publicly, but now it’s time’
In order to give her the best chance of living without life-altering defects, Emilia was rushed to the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in central London.
A strong memory for the actress is being adamant that she had no time for brain surgery in her very hectic life, but she eventually resigned herself to the procedure and underwent three hours of the gruelling operation.
When Emilia woke feeling thirsty and sick, with partial eyesight, she was moved to the I.C.U for four days, after this time doctors informed her if she made it two weeks without complication she was likely to make a good recovery.
However she recalled that her most frightening moment was after that two-week mark, when a nurse asked her name as part of a cognitive exercise and she couldn’t remember it.
Terrifying: Emilia then explained that she had just finished filming the first season of the HBO fantasy series when she had her initial brain aneurysm while working out with a trainer (pictured with Kit Harington (Jon Snow) during filming for Game Of Thrones)
She began muttering nonsense due to a condition called aphasia, and she began to blindly panic as she began to consider that life wouldn’t be worth living if she couldn’t remember her acting lines.
Emilia said: ‘In my worst moments, I wanted to pull the plug. I asked the medical staff to let me die. My job—my entire dream of what my life would be—centered on language, on communication. Without that, I was lost.’
However her aphasia soon passed and she constantly felt grateful that she was one of the people that made it out of the I.C.U, a month later she was discharged from the hospital – just as she was due back on set for Game Of Thrones.
Emilia said that she was told that she had another, smaller, aneurysm on the other side of her brain which could ‘pop’ at any time, however it may also just lie dormant.
Pushing on: She revealed that she had been undertaking exercise to relieve the stress of her newfound fame but soon started to feel a ‘bad headache’ and fatigue’, yet she forced herself to continue the gruelling workout (pictured at the Oscars in February 2019)
So she pressed on, Emilia returned to the show and told bosses about what had happened to her, while refusing to become the centre of dissection, she kept her aneurysm out of the public eye.
Before she was thrown back into filming, Emilia had to endure a press tour for the first season of the show and said she remembers feeling ‘so weak she thought she’d die’, and made it through interviews by sipping on morphine.
After struggling through filming for season two and pushing herself to complete season three ‘without missing a beat’, Emilia took a role as Holly Golightly on Broadway.
While in New York, Emilia went for a one of her regular brain scans and medics discovered that it had doubled in size and wanted to ‘take care’ of it for her.
Something’s wrong: However, when Emilia got into the plank position she felt as though ‘an elastic band were squeezing her brain’ she then ran to the changing room where she became ‘violently, voluminously ill’
Despite being promised a ‘simple’ operation, Emilia said she awoke screaming in pain following the failed operation and doctors had to operate again in order to improve her chance of survival.
The immediate surgery, which was more intrusive this time as they had to access Emilia’s brain through her skull, meant that her recovery was painful and unsightly.
Emilia recollected emerging from the surgery with a drain connected to her head and having had missing pieces of her skull replaced with titanium, along with a constant worry that she would loose cognitive or sensory abilities.
She said while spending another month in hospital she sometimes lost hope and suffered from anxiety and panic attacks, adding that she felt like a ‘shell of herself’.
Fearful: Fearing for her life, the star admitted she said to herself ‘I will not be paralysed’ as she tried to keep her ‘memory alive’ by reciting her lines from Game of Thrones (pictured in 2013 around the time of her second operation)
The Me Before You actress said that she now struggles recalling those dark times because her mind has tried to block them out, but she does remember being convinced she would die, and that her story would get out.
A reporter asked her about her operation six weeks after the surgery, when the National Enquirer ran a small story, but Emilia was quick to deny the allegation.
However Emilia said she now feels like the time is right to speak out, and acknowledges that she is one of the fortunate few with an excellent level of care.
Several weeks after the surgery Emilia attended Comic-Con where she suffered an intense headache, and once again she resigned herself to the fact that her time had come after claiming to have ‘cheated death twice’.
Worrying: Emilia, who was just 24 at the time, added that a woman next to her in the stall put her in the recovery position as an ‘unconsciousness settled over her’ as she was wheeled into hospital
However she was met by her publicist who told her a reporter from MTV was waiting to chat to her, and rather than running from the situation, Emilia joked that she thought if she was going to die, she’d do it live on television.
Emilia now claims she is feeling ‘100 per cent’ and alongside finally speaking out about her experiences she has decided to launch a charity called SameYou, which aims to provide treatment for people recovering from brain injuries and stroke.
She added that she feels incredibly lucky to have wrapped the final season of Game Of Thrones and been able to see how the story ended.
Emilia, who rarely gave her health a thought and was consumed by her desire to be an actress, grew up in Oxford with her businesswoman mother and sound designer father who worked hard to put her through private school.
She said that although she doesn’t have a strong sense of when she actually decided to become an actress she can recall being entranced by a performance of Show Boat when she was just three years old with her father, who passed in July 2016.
Emilia was named Esquire’s Sexiest Woman Alive in 2015 – and turned down the role of Anastasia Steele in 2015’s scandalous film Fifty Shades of Grey.
The actress shot to fame in 2011 after she replaced Tamzin Merchant as the platinum-haired Targaryen princess Daenerys Targaryen on Game Of Thrones.
Her character has since undergone some dramatic plotlines – including an arranged marriage to Dothraki chieftain Khal Drogo, played by Jason Momoa, and the tense Liberation of Slaver’s Bay.
She was last seen in a scandalous scene with Jon Snow, played by Kit Harrington, in the final episode of season seven.
Emilia’s comments come ahead of the premiere of the eighth and final series of Game of Thrones on April 14.
WHAT IS A SUBARACHNOID HEMORRHAGE: THE STROKE EMILIA CLARKE NARROWLY SURVIVED ON GAME OF THRONES
A subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) is a type of stroke caused by bleeding in the brain.
Five to 10 percent of strokes are caused by SAH. They most typically occur in older people.
It can be caused by a head injury or a ruptured aneurysm.
A third of patients survive and recover, a third survive with disability, and a third do not survive.
- Aneurysm: a balloon-like bulge or weakening of an artery wall that ruptures, releasing blood into the subarachnoid space around the brain.
- Arteriovenous malformation (AVM): an abnormal tangle of arteries and veins with no capillaries in between. The weakened blood vessels can rupture and bleed.
- Traumatic brain injury: during the impact of an accident, the brain crashes back and forth inside the skull tearing blood vessels.
- sudden onset of a severe headache (often described as ‘the worst headache of my life’)
- nausea and vomiting
- stiff neck
- sensitivity to light (photophobia)
- blurred or double vision
- loss of consciousness