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Game of Thrones' Emilia Clarke Says She Felt Pressured to Do Nude Scenes

She opens up about fights she's had on sets

Lindsay MacDonald

Game of Thrones was known for an abundance of nudity throughout the series, especially in earlier seasons. Now, Emilia Clarke, who played Daenerys Targaryen, is speaking out about the nude scenes she filmed for HBO's popular series, saying she felt pressured on set.

Appearing on Dax Shepard's Armchair Expert podcast, Clarke said that especially in the show's first season, she felt pressured to do nude scenes she didn't want to do. "Season 1 was what it was. There was a f---ton of nudity," the Emmy-nominated actress said. "I took the job, and then they sent me the scripts, and I was reading them, and I was like, 'Oh, there's the catch! OK. All right then.'"

Clarke went on to admit that she was a young and inexperienced actress when she first booked Game of Thrones, and as a result, she often felt like she couldn't refuse when she was asked to disrobe for the camera. "I'd come fresh from drama school and I approached it as a job; if it's in the script then it's clearly needed, this is what this is, and I'm going to make sense of it. Everything's going to be cool... I'd been on a film set twice before then, and now I'm on a film set completely naked with all of these people, and I don't know what I'm meant to do, and I don't know what's expected of me, and I don't know what you want, and I don't know what I want. Regardless of whether there had been nudity or not, I just spent that first season thinking, 'I'm not worthy of requiring anything. I'm not worthy of needing anything at all.'"

Emilia Clarke, Game of Thrones

Emilia Clarke, Game of Thrones

Clarke explained that because of that imposter syndrome, she felt like she couldn't speak out about how uncomfortable she felt and frequently ended up crying in the bathroom on set. In the end, the person who actually stood up on her behalf was Jason Momoa, who played her on-screen husband, Khal Drogo, until the character's death near the end of the first season. "It was definitely hard, which is why the scenes, when I got to do them with Jason, were wonderful because he was like, 'No, sweetie, this isn't OK.'"

Eventually, Clarke says she learned to stand up for herself and even got into arguments with her producers about nude scenes.

"Now things are very, very, very different, and I'm a lot more savvy about what I'm comfortable with and what I'm OK with doing," Clarke said. "Like, I've had fights on set before where I'm like, 'No, the sheet stays up,' and they're like, 'You don't want to disappoint your Game of Thrones fans.' And I'm like, 'F--- you,'" Clarke said.

Clearly that approach worked, and Daenerys was rarely seen unclothed in the final seasons of Game of Thrones.

In general, nude scenes on the show declined in later seasons, which many fans attribute to the public backlash against the overuse of nudity (especially female nudity) in the series. It seems a similar argument was happening behind the scenes.

HBO declined to comment when reached by TV Guide.

Game of Thrones is currently streaming on HBO Now.

Game of Thrones: "The Iron Throne"

Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) in the Game of Thrones finale, "The Iron Throne."