We’ve just gotten through most of our awards season and guess who didn’t get all the recognition and attention that she deserved? Our favorite platinum blonde, also our favorite classic brunette, our adorable ingenue, our queen herself: Emilia Clarke. Maybe there was a hiccup or mistake when they were giving out the trophies (we wouldn’t put it past them, after what happened at this year’s Oscars), but in all likelihood her talent and skills are just being overlooked. She still remains one of the greatest role models for young women and adults everywhere- not only as a talented and capable actress that has taken Hollywood by storm, but as her most famous character, Daenerys Targaryen on HBO’s series Game of Thrones. If she’s so beloved, why isn’t she getting all the love and recognition she deserves?
Let’s take a look at the highest paid actresses for the past few years: Jennifer Lawrence (of The Hunger Games and Silver Linings Playbook), Melissa McCarthy (of Ghostbusters and Mike & Molly), and Scarlett Johansson (of The Avengers movies and Lost in Translation). An interesting combination and mixed bag of women, for sure- but what do they all have in common? Huge breakout roles, gigantic and famous film and television series all about them, and, of course, the looks: heart warming smiles, eyes as clear as blue skies, and skin that seems porcelain smooth. What do these women have that Emilia Clarke doesn’t?
It’s high time Emilia had her moment in the sun, and we’ve got the snapshots to prove it.
15. In Her Breakout Role
The first step to knowing an actress is worth her salt is by looking at her first big role, the first time that a producer or director watched her in an audition and could tell in 120 seconds or less that this chick has what it takes. For Emilia Clarke, that was with Game of Thrones back in 2011. The young starlet auditioned for Game of Thrones while in her first year of studying acting, and she left school when offered the role of Daenerys Targaryen. Truth be told, she wasn’t the casting director’s first pick- but the other woman turned down the role because she didn’t think the show would be popular (bet she’s kicking herself now). Emilia was given a chance to shine, and she pulled it off marvelously. Starting off as a meek and clearly abused young princess to a murdered king, Daenerys perfectly embodied the burdens and horrors of what it means to have royal blood. That is, until she discovered herself in the Dothraki wilderness.
14. When She Became Our Khaleesi
Daenerys Targaryen is an entirely different person at the end of season one than she is in the first episode. After a mere, short season, this meek and quiet trampled upon princess becomes a force to be reckoned with, a queen in her own rites, our mother of dragons and or Khaleesi. Talk about a great character arc! Not all actresses can handle the responsibilities of a total character transformation in the way that Emilia Clarke has managed it- can you imagine someone like Megan Fox or Dakota Fanning trying to spearhead the role of Daenerys? Game of Thrones wouldn’t have been renewed for another season. Fortunately, we have the fantastic Emilia Clarke to usher us through Daenerys’ wonderful life story. With every season, she’s proven more and more just how capable of an actress she is, how much she can handle, and how far she’s willing to go to prove that Daenerys is rightful queen of Westeros.
13. But She’s Also Fun to Work With…
To be a highly paid actress, people must want to work with you. If you want people to want to work with you, then you’ve got to nail down a few crucial qualities. First of all, you’ve got to be talented. No one wants to work with an untalented actor, no matter what, because it means they’ve got to suffer through your awful acting for twenty takes of every shot. Secondly, you can’t be a diva. If you strut around the sound stage thinking you’re the real Khaleesi and everyone should be bowing down to you, your character’s going to get killed off quite abruptly. Finally, you’ve got to be a fun person to work with. Just like in any other job, the coworkers you want to work with the most are the ones you can relax with, who can make mistakes with, but who you respect and who reciprocates that respect. Emilia nails these qualities, hands down.
12. But Really… KHALEESI
A lot of our attraction to Emilia Clarke comes back to her current starring role in Game of Thrones- Daenerys Targaryen. Sure, when the show started out, she wasn’t exactly a role model or an idol or someone women would watch on TV while snapping and shouting “YAS, QUEEN, YAS.” But these days… well… yas, Queen. Yas.
Daenerys has turned into a full blown Queen, taking and owning an empire of freed slaves and (mostly) loyal subjects. She’s doing what she can to make the world a better place, though that of course comes with hiccups along the way. She’s become a strong role model to women that want to take charge of their own lives and struggle to find the way, and that’s an incredibly sexy thing to be. One of the biggest steps to making your career explode is getting your audiences to love you- and we sure do love our Khaleesi.
11. And When She Plays With Fire??
There’s something so wonderful about seeing our Khaleesi illuminated in fire light, the lambent luminescence of the fire that runs in her blood and in the blood of her dragon children. Something about the amber flames ignites a flushing in her cheeks and tousled her hair perfectly and we can just about see the flames in her eyes. It’s a pretty magical moment.
Not only is it magical because of the writing (thank you George R. R. Martin and the rest of the Game of Thrones writing team), but because Emilia Clarke has so well slipped into the skin of her character that we struggle to believe she is anyone but Daenerys as she stands in front of those flames. She so boldly, brazenly, and unabashedly adopts the wildest and most terrifying qualities of her character and there are times we truly fear the great Khaleesi, Daenerys Stormborn, daughter of the Mad King Targaryen.
10. She Clearly Fits In With the A-Listers
Some actors struggle to adapt to Hollywood lifestyles when they bust on to the scene. Take Anne Hathaway, for example. She really resisted changing her style or losing weight or doing anything out of the norm, but it was costing her career success and attracting negative attention. Once she refined her style, found a fitness plan that worked for her, and got a haircut that was more manageable to maintain, her career exploded. Well, Emilia hasn’t taken long to adjust to the demands of celebrity lifestyle. She’s already one of the most stunning ladies on the red carpet before every awards show and she hangs out with celebs all the time- even celebs outside of her main cast (though they obviously love her)! Her instagram is full of pictures with Will Ferrell, Johnny Knoxville, and Matt LeBlanc, as well as tons of other famous people she randomly meets up with.
9. And She Definitely Has Hot Celebs Swooning For Her
Emilia isn’t so famous yet that the paparazzi are currently barging down her door and asking her invasive questions. She’s getting there, but she’s not quite on TMZ’s hot list yet. It is for this reason that you probably didn’t even know that Emilia has been dating hot Hollywood celebrities for years now! Her first big star-studded relationship was a brief stint with Seth MacFarlane, the actor/producer/writer/director behind such favorites as Family Guy and American Dad. Distance and work schedules ruined the relationship though the two stayed friends. Since then, rumors have abounded about all the Hollywood hotties that she may have dated though no proof was ever found. Jared Leto, the Joker in the recent Oscar-winning Suicide Squad, is on the list. Also on the list is a favorite of the ladies, James Franco. There are also, of course, thousands of rumors that Kit Harington and Emilia Clarke have been dating, but those have been circulating since their characters were “shipped” together at the start of the show.
8. When She Went Beyond Game of Thrones…
Sure, Game of Thrones is amazing. That’s kind of hard to argue with, since it’s one of the most popular television programs in the world right now (and has been for the past few years). Not only is the show amazing, but Daenerys’ character is so well developed and has such a fantastic story arc that it’s hard not to fall in love with the character and the woman playing her. But Emilia is not Daenerys, and her career will continue long after Game of Thrones ends, so it’s wonderful to see when she books great roles outside of the fantasy realm.
One of her first best bookings was in Terminator Genisys, the recent reboot of the Terminator series where she played a young Sarah Connor trying to prevent the end of the world before John Connor is ever conceived. Not to brag, but she totally rocked it. Bad-ass looks good on her… and so do leather jackets.
Once Emilia got a taste for great roles in film outside of Game of Thrones, she seemed thirsty for more. Soon after she finished shooting Terminator Genisys, she booked one of the most famous romance movies of the past few years: Me Before You, a love story of a woman who gets a job caring for a recently paralyzed man and falls in love with him. It’s a very touching story of what love is and all the wonderful things love can do for a person, but it’s also a great story where we get to watch Emilia Clarke fall in love and be her awkward, goofy self. Throughout the movie, she transforms from a simple, English country girl to a stunning vision of beauty. Even clad in swaths of silky red cloth, we can see every curve of Emilia’s stunning body- it’s no wonder Will Traynor fell in love!
6. And That ADORABLE Laugh
Seriously, look at her! That adorable laugh, those plump red lips, her tousled hair thrown back in a giggle? Emilia looks like she’s always down to have a good time, whether it’s between takes and she’s making fun of herself taking things so seriously or if it’s when she’s wandering around downtown Los Angeles with Kit Harington, looking for mischief and fun. Emilia is so damn adorable and willing to have a good time that it’s no wonder she’s one of the most amicable cast members in Game of Thrones- from the impression that we get, she’s essentially the Miss Congeniality of the show. She’s seen regularly hanging out with plenty of cast members, most frequently with Kit Harrington (Jon Snow), Nathalie Emmanuel (Missandei), Rose Leslie (Ygritte), Peter Dinklage (Tyrion Lannister) and Lena Headey (Cersei Lannister)- with that many outside-of-work hangouts, you’ve got to know that Emilia is a fun person. But really, who wouldn’t want to party with Emilia?
5. Even When She’s Not Trying To Look Good
You could probably look at any picture of Emilia and know automatically that she probably looks good in anything, whether she’s rolling out of bed in an oversized shirt, heading to the gym or the grocery store, or cooking a feast for a delightful dinner party with her cast mates. Emilia looks like the kind of woman that looks good in every effort and at all times- because she does! Check out this casual snapshot, with a gorgeous patterned skirt that only the bravest and most stylish of women could pull off, a classy waist belt (check it out- the belt buckle is the Lannister family crest!), a professional and crisp (though low cut) blouse, and stunningly effortless hair and makeup. She barely has to try and she’s smitten our hearts. For any normal woman, this outfit would have taken a professional stylist to select the outfit, fine tune hair and makeup, carefully choose accessories, and use magical super glue hairspray to hold it all perfectly in place- but Emilia is no normal woman, is she?
4. Or When She’s Intentionally Trying To Look Bad
Even when Emilia is intentionally trying to look bad, modest, unattractive, or, to say in kinder words, more plain, she still looks downright hot! Maybe in this picture she doesn’t look the picture of angelic beauty or like she should be playing Audrey Hepburn, but she still looks like someone you might pass on the sidewalk or while you’re walking through the park and inspire a thought in you to catch a second glance or maybe bestow on her a warm smile of possibility. Even when Emilia is having a rough day, we’re certain Emilia is still looking pretty hot. We bet she’s one of those women that are somehow prettier when they cry, or one that’s still gorgeous when she has a cold or flu. Hey, some women can really rock the raw red nose, pallid cheeks, and sleepy eyes when disease ridden- and we think Emilia can rock just about anything at this point.
3. And again.
After starring in a film adaptation of one of the most famous romance novels of our time (that isn’t by Nicholas Sparks), Emilia must have taken an interest in movies originating in literary and historical sources. Emilia’s next project, which is set to release sometime this year and is finished in filming and post-production, is titled Above Suspicion. It’s the story of an FBI agent and a woman he’s having an affair with who happens to be one of his informants. It’s a twisted and dramatic story based on true events, depicting the first ever conviction of an FBI agent for murder (oooh, scandal!). We’re very excited to see her in the film, especially since it has an interesting cast and she’ll be totally out of her natural element! The movie takes place in the Appalachian region of Kentucky, and she’ll be starring alongside Johnny Knoxville (Jackass) and Jack Huston (Ben Hur).
2. She Rocks The Classic Look
For anyone that has ever acted professionally or has even just tried to act at any point in their lives, you know that there are a lot of struggles in getting roles. One of the biggest feats for any actor trying to build a strong repertoire is to show versatility; to prove that they are able to play a wide range of actors, differing in age, time period, attitude, experience, and so on. This is hard for a lot of actors: think about how many times we’ve seen Tom Cruise play the same rough action star trying to save the world from vague threats, or Jennifer Aniston play the same sweet romantic interest that’s always struggled to get it right in relationships. Having poor versatility doesn’t mean you’re a bad actor- but it does limit your work load. Emilia has already done a great job showing her range, with fantasy roles, romance roles, and action roles. She proved with this role that she can pull of the classic looks of characters from historic time periods too- we’d love to see her play Audrey Hepburn.
1. Her Esquire Shoot
Last but absolutely and certainly not least- her photo shoot for Esquire. Some actors really struggle when it comes time for their first sexy photo shoot, and we’re certain that Emilia Clarke had some thinking to do too. Almost everyone in the world has seen her naked at some point or other with her role in Game of Thrones, so nudity isn’t enough. But to be lewd or do something overwhelmingly provocative or scandalous wouldn’t help her either- she’d just be perceived as fame-hungry. So she found a happy medium in this photo shoot, with sexy tousled hair, the remnants of a classy and fancy outfit still lining the soft curves of her body, casually waiting for her lover to discover her. It’s no wonder Esquire named her sexiest woman alive in 2015- she’d get anyone’s engine going with pictures like these. Imagine a love scene in a movie starting with this shot; that’d be sure to make millions in the box office on opening night alone.