Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke has revealed how learning the Dothraki language helped her to recover from two life-threatening brain aneurysms.
The actor, who plays Daenerys Targaryen in the long-running HBO series, said she had the first aneurysm when she had finished filming the first season of the show.
In an essay for the New Yorker, Clarke explained that she began to feel a bad headache while getting ready to work out and had to push herself through her first few exercises. “My trainer had me get into the plank position, and I immediately felt as though an elastic band were squeezing my brain,” she wrote. “I tried to ignore the pain and push through it, but I just couldn’t.”
Now, Clarke has revealed on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert how learning Dothraki as part of her role in the show kept her mind active and aided her recovery.
She said: “I genuinely knew I was being brain-damaged. I don’t know how…you’re incredibly ill, and you’ve got this incredibly, just horrific, horrific headache and being violently ill – at some point in my life, I knew that meant brain damage.”
Clarke continued: “So I just tried to keep as active as possible. Move my fingers, my toes, my hands, and ask myself questions. Dothraki lines. Genuinely, genuinely trying to remember. Like, really trying to force my memory to work as much as I could to stay conscious.”
Since revealing details of her illness, Clarke has launched a new charity called SameYou, which aims to provide treatment for others recovering from brain injuries and strokes.
In a statement on the charity’s website, the star wrote: “As more people recover from brain injury and strokes because of improvements in acute care, we urgently need a major initiative to propel neurorehabilitation support services to the forefront.”
Clarke will return to screens as Daenerys Targaryen in the eighth and final season of Game Of Thrones. A recently revealed clip from the new season showed Targaryen entering Winterfell with Jon Snow and being greeted at the gates by Sansa Stark, who tells her: “Winterfell is yours, your grace.”