Emilia Clarke is known throughout most of the civilized world as “Game of Thrones’” Daenerys Targaryen, a character not to be trifled with.
In real life, Clarke comes closer to her newest screen character, the bubbly, goofy, colorfully-dressed Louisa Clark in “Me Before You.”
It was while playing another tough girl, Sarah Connor (making “Terminator Genisys” in San Francisco), that she first received a copy of Jojo Moyes’ bestselling novel.
“I read it in two days,” says Clarke, who recently visited The City with Moyes to promote the new movie. “I was working on ‘Terminator,’ I promise, but every moment we were done, it was ‘put the gun down, pick up the book,’” she says, adding a sobbing sound, to indicate the book’s five-hanky power.
“Me Before You” tells the story of Lou, who tries to help support her family by going to work as a caregiver for the reticent, brooding Will Traynor (Sam Claflin), who was paralyzed in an accident. They proceed to change each other’s lives in unexpectedly profound ways.
Moyes, who wrote the screenplay, joined Clarke on the set. She says Clarke was “never anything less than delightful to everybody.”
“She knew my (teenage) daughter was having a hard time at school, and she sent her a dress,” Moyes says. “I know we’re not the only people she did that stuff to.”
Clarke seems surprised at the reaction to her performance, which is 180 degrees different from Daenerys.
“It really was the easiest character I’ve played, ever,” says Clarke. “This one isn’t acting. ‘Game of Thrones’ is the acting one. I’ll never again find a character that was so much like putting on your favorite jumper.”
One of the biggest challenges, however, was a nonsense song Clarke’s character sings to Claflin’s character, which starts out something like “I willlish I llllived in mollolonkey lllland.”
“I just wanted something really daft, and it came to my head,” says Moyes. “When I was a teenager I had a friend whose father used to sing it. Then my own kids used to love me to sing it to them at night because of the stupid way you have to sing it.”
“I just couldn’t get my mouth ‘round it,” Clarke adds. “I do love singing, and I was in character in the moment, but I got to it, and I was embarrassed to sing it in front of the crew. I was like, ‘I’m actually a bit nervous.’”
IF YOU GO
Me Before You
Starring Emilia Clarke, Sam Claflin, Charles Dance, Janet McTeer
Written by Jojo Moyes
Directed by Thea Sharrock
Running time 1 hour, 50 minutes