Emilia Clarke

Emilia Clarke ‘Missing’ Parts of Her Brain After Suffering Two Aneurysm Filming Game of Thrones

Emilia Clarke is a beloved actress best known for her role as The Mother of Dragons, Daenerys Targaryen, on the series The Game of Thrones. Years ago, a well-known tabloid magazine published a story saying that Clarke had needed some kind of brain surgery. She denied the accusations at the time. In 2019, however, Clarke finally came out and published the story of the two brain aneurysms she suffered while filming Game of Thrones. This is her story.

Emilia Clarke Suffered Two Brain Aneurysms While Filming Game of Thrones

Imagine getting your big break only to immediately suffer an injury or illness that threatens to take it all away. That is exactly what happened to Emilia Clarke, Game of Thrones fans’ beloved Mother of Dragons. Shortly after wrapping up filming for the first season of the hit HBO series, Emilia Clarke had an aneurysm. She then had another one not long after filming season 3. She thought she was going to die, or worse – never be able to act again. (1)

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The First Aneurysm

For her entire life, Emilia Clarke wanted to be an actress. She finally received her big break when directors cast her as Daenerys Targaryen on Game of Thrones. They had just finished filming the first season and Clarke had begun working out with a personal trainer. In the personal story she wrote for The New Yorker, she says she recalls going in for her session but she felt really awful. She had a headache and felt incredibly tired. 

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Clarke asked the trainer to excuse herself and went to the bathroom, willing away the pain and nausea. She began vomiting profusely, and someone called an ambulance. Mostly everything after that is a blurry, terrifying nightmare. The doctors immediately performed a surgery, telling her later that she had suffered an aneurysm. 

Two weeks after the aneurysm, a nurse asked her what her full name was – Emilia Isobel Euphemia Rose Clarke. The only problem was that instead of her name, just a nonsensical jumble of words came out of her mouth. She was suffering from aphasia.

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“Even as I was muttering nonsense, my mum did me the great kindness of ignoring it and trying to convince me that I was perfectly lucid. But I knew I was faltering. 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.” she wrote.

What Is Aphasia?

Aphasia is a language disorder caused by damage to the areas of the brain that control language expression and comprehension. Often stroke patients will then struggle with aphasia. In some instances, it can leave people essentially unable to communicate. (2)

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Read: Bruce Willis receives shocking diagnosis, will step away from acting

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The Second Aneurysm

Luckily for Clarke, her aphasia was temporary and she recovered. Her doctors told her that she had another, smaller aneurysm on the other side of her brain that could “pop” any time. Because it was small, however, it could also remain dormant. The plan was to keep regular watch. Armed with morphine for the pain, she went on to do a publicity tour before beginning the filming of season 2. 

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“Even before we began filming Season 2, I was deeply unsure of myself. I was often so woozy, so weak, that I thought I was going to die. Staying at a hotel in London during a publicity tour, I vividly remember thinking, I can’t keep up or think or breathe, much less try to be charming. I sipped on morphine in between interviews. The pain was there, and the fatigue was like the worst exhaustion I’d ever experienced, multiplied by a million.” she recalled.

Season two was a struggle, but she made it through. After finishing filming for season three, she moved to New York to be part of a Broadway production. She went in for one of her regular brain scans after the play wrapped up. The doctors told her that the other aneurysm had doubled in size and that they needed to take care of it right away.

She had another surgery, but that one did not go according to plan. She woke up from surgery in incredible pain, because she was suffering from a large bleed. The doctors said she needed immediate surgery. This time, they had to open her skull. 

The recovery was horrendous and yet again, she questioned whether she would be able to continue to do her job. One of the lucky ones, she made a full recovery.

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“There was terrible anxiety, panic attacks. I was raised never to say, “It’s not fair”; I was taught to remember that there is always someone who is worse off than you. But, going through this experience for the second time, all hope receded. I felt like a shell of myself. So much so that I now have a hard time remembering those dark days in much detail. My mind has blocked them out. But I do remember being convinced that I wasn’t going to live.”

Same You

All these years later, Emilia Clarke, now a household name and beloved actress, decided to open up to the public about what happened to her. She has now started a charity called Same You. Their primary goal is to provide treatment and recovery support for recovering from brain injuries and strokes. This is because she understands how devastating these injuries can be and how lucky she is at how unharmed she is, in comparison.

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“The amount of my brain that is no longer usable — it’s remarkable that I am able to speak, sometimes articulately, and live my life completely normally with absolutely no repercussions,” she said in an interview. “I am in the really, really, really small minority of people that can survive that.” (3)

Keep Reading: Justin Bieber reveals health diagnosis after facial paralysis

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Sources

  1. A Battle for My Life.” New Yorker.  Emilia Clarke. March 21, 2019.
  2. What is aphasia?Hopkins Medicine
  3. BBC
Julie Hambleton
Freelance Writer
Julie Hambleton has a BSc in Food and Nutrition from the Western University, Canada, is a former certified personal trainer and a competitive runner. Julie loves food, culture, and health, and enjoys sharing her knowledge to help others make positive changes and live healthier lives.
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