"Normally the comments are not about me at all, but, 'My goodness, your husband is big!'" she tells TVGuide.com. We can't blame them. As the delicately beautiful Daenerys Targaryen, Clarke is a sharp contrast to Jason Momoa, the 6-foot-5 actor who plays the eyeliner-wearing, bare-chested Dothraki warlord, Khal Drogo.
On Sunday's finale (9/8c on HBO), however, we'll see that the while theirs is a marriage of physical dissimilarities, Daenerys will demonstrate a fierceness that is worthy of the khal himself. But first, she needs to overcome the devastating dilemmas from the last episode, namely Drogo's fatal injury and the possible loss of her unborn child.
"She's been married off to the most fearsome warrior but something beautiful has come out of it and she has actually fallen for him," says Clarke. "She has also created this child with the man that she loves. It's the first time that Daenerys has been in any way happy because of herself. The thought of losing these two is kind of what makes her realize that she isn't as strong as she's been thinking she could be."
We saw Daenerys' first signs of empowerment in the way she approached her political marriage to Drogo. She not only learned the Dothraki language and adjusted to the rigors of their nomadic culture, but also learned the womanly arts to keep Drogo intrigued in the bedroom. And then she watched as her husband killed her brother Viserys (Harry Lloyd).
"He threatened her child, which is why she allowed him to be killed," Clarke explains. "But whilst he was abusive of her, it doesn't stop her from having the residue of that ambition that she's grown up with that Viserys taught her. He spent his entire life telling her that they are the rightful heirs to the throne. It's going to rub off on her."
But with Viserys dead of a molten crown of gold and Drogo suffering from a badly infected battle wound, Daenerys only has one person to turn to in pursuit of the Iron Throne. Her sworn knight Ser Jorah (Iain Glen), however, has his own issues.
"He means a huge amount to her and fulfills a fatherlike role, which she has never really had," Clarke says. "For the first time in her life she has someone who truly cares for her, and he cares for her in spite of himself because he forfeited his opportunity to go home and no longer be exiled in order to save Dany in the market that day. So they have this incredibly close bond, but she is still is completely unaware of his feelings towards her, be they kind of more romantic-ish."
The last time we saw Ser Jorah, he was carrying a pregnant Dany into the tent where the witch Mirri Maz Duur (Mia Soteriou) was performing blood magic to heal Drogo. On Sunday we'll learn the results of the ritual and how Daenerys moves toward her destiny. Clarke identifies with Daenerys' journey from untried girl to someone embracing huge responsibilities this season — although there were no blood or sibling sacrifices required on her part.
"This is the first major thing I had ever done so it was always going to be a huge learning curve there," Clarke admits. "This being for HBO is quite a daunting prospect in itself. For me as an actor it was a lot to overcome definitely, but hopefully I've grown and am that much more professional from when I went in.
"Also, I vaguely knew how to ride before but I'd never ridden on camera, which is quite a different thing altogether, quite scary," she continues. "I proved to be not so brilliant at that. You're on a living, breathing animal with a mind of its own. So as soon as you put a camera in front of me as an actor, I know what to do, but trying to make the horse do what you want it to do on camera without ruining thousands of dollars of equipment and assaulting a few directors is quite tricky."
Even though much of her time was spent in the saddle, Clarke didn't have to worry about any wardrobe malfunctions. "My Dothraki outfits were definitely ones that you could ride in," she says. "I had what we called Dothraki jeggings, like leather legging-type things that you'd wear underneath everything so you could ride easily. The costumes would fit what was demanded of me."
The jeggings were only part of her transformation. Like Lloyd, who plays her on-screen brother, the brunette Clarke had to don a wig in order to look like a true Targaryen, a bloodline known for their signature platinum locks. " Yes, it was a wig," she confirms. "I got so upset every time I took the wig off because it was so beautiful and I saw my own hair."
Despite the long hours of shooting, wrestling with stubborn animals, learning to speak Dothraki and extra time spent in hair and wardrobe, Clarke finds that the emotionally charged scenes were the most taxing part of working on Game of Thrones. Luckily, she had support from her co-star Momoa.
"Those scenes could be quite exhausting in itself," she acknowledges. "A lot of what we were filming was pretty intense, tragic stuff, but we normally had a bit of a giggle because of Jason. He's a huge joker and amazing to work with because he's incredibly professional. But we nicknamed him Tigger because he's just so energetic and big and bouncing around everywhere. He made filming just a complete joy. I couldn't have asked for a better husband."
The Game of Thrones finale airs Sunday at 9/8c on HBO. Check out this preview of "Fire and Blood":