Emilia Clarke: ‘It Was My Duty’ to Come Clean About Near-Fatal Brain Aneurysms

Emilia Clarke: 'It Was My Duty' to Come Clean About Brain Aneurysms
Emilia Clarke attends "Game Of Thrones" New York Premiere at Radio City Music Hall, NYC on April 3, 2019 in New York City. Paul Bruinooge/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Emilia Clarke initially did not want to go public about suffering two near-fatal brain aneurysms, but she felt compelled to open up in order to help others who are dealing with similar health issues.

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“I knew that I had to tell this story because I wanted people who are suffering from it to know that this is also what brain injury looks like, and that you can do it,” Clarke, 32, told Extra at the NYC premiere of Game of Thrones’ eighth and final season on Wednesday, April 3. “I wanted people to not feel alone if they did. I knew it was my duty, but it’s hard.”

The Me Before You actress explained that she was afraid to come clean because she did not want to appear weak. She noted, “Two weeks before [I shared my story], I was like, ‘I don’t think I can do it.’ You just want people to think you can do the job that they gave you, ‘cause … there are 20,000 other women that can do it as well. Yes, we are still fighting that fight, so showing any weakness is frightening.”

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Clarke broke her silence about her health problems in March. She told The New Yorker that she fell ill during a workout session and was later diagnosed with a subarachnoid hemorrhage, “a life-threatening type of stroke, caused by bleeding into the space surrounding the brain.” She underwent emergency brain surgery, which was a success, but caused many side effects including memory loss and aphasia.

The British actress recovered and started filming Game of Thrones season 2, but doctors eventually discovered another aneurysm, which required more invasive surgery. “The recovery was even more painful than it had been after the first surgery,” she recalled. “I looked as though I had been through a war more gruesome than any that [GoT character] Daenerys [Targaryen] experienced.”

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Jason Momoa, who played Khal Drogo on season 1 of the HBO series, told Entertainment Tonight that Clarke came extremely close to death multiple times. “We’ve had so many scares,” he said. “It’s very sad ‘cause we almost lost her numerous times. I love her to bits.”

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