Tamzin Merchant, the original Daenerys planned for Game of Thrones, has opened up on filming the show’s scrapped pilot episode.
Merchant filmed one episode of the hit HBO show before she was replaced by Emilia Clarke, admitting “it wasn’t in my heart” to continue with the role.
“Shooting that pilot was a really great lesson,” Merchant told Entertainment Weekly of the experience. “It was an affirmation about listening to my instincts and following them, because I tried to back out of that situation and, during the contract process, I did back out.
“I was talked back into it by some persuasive people. Then I found myself naked and afraid in Morocco and riding a horse that was clearly much more excited to be there than I was.”
Merchant added: “It was a lesson that if my guts are telling me a story isn’t something I’m excited to tell, then I shouldn’t try to be excited just because other people are telling me that I should be excited.
“I didn’t have any training as an actor, I only have my instincts. And what excites me and what drives me is a compelling story and a compelling character. So for me, Game of Thrones was never that.”
Going on to discuss Clarke taking on the role, she said: “I think it’s a testament to Emilia Clarke for making that role iconic – she was obviously excited to tell that story, and she was epic and excellent. But for me, it wasn’t in my heart to tell it.”
Last November, it was revealed that Emilia Clarke improvised a whole monologue in a made-up language for Daenerys while shooting season five of the hit show.
Director Jeremy Podeswa explained that Clarke did “an amazing job” with a scene in which her character speaks in the fictional language of Valyrian, to order an execution.
“I went over to Emilia and I was like, ‘I know this is a really big ask, but do you think you could figure out a way to do this in Valyrian?’ She said, ‘Yeah, sure, I think I can do this.’ And I’m all, ‘Really?’
“Then she went off and cobbled together things that [Daenerys] had said in the past that made sense. She came back in 10 minutes and had this whole monologue down.”