Emilia Clarke is arguably best known for her breakout role in Game of Thrones as the beautiful and fierce Daenerys Targaryen. Superfans know that Clarke was actually not in the original unaired pilot; instead, she took over the role of Daenerys after the original actress backed out of her contract. We can all agree that Clarke’s life – and GOT – would have worked out a lot differently had this switch not happened.
Clarke’s role in the eight years playing Daenerys has not stopped her from starring in movies during breaks in the show. She has appeared in a handful of well-known movie franchise films including Solo: A Star Wars Story and Terminator Genisys. Additionally, Clarke has made her mark in romance films such as Last Christmas and Me Before You, which covers the controversial topic of assisted suicide for a quadriplegic character. While Clarke has not graced our screens since her last film in 2019, she has a few projects set to be released over the next two years, including the upcoming Marvel Studios Secret Invasion TV miniseries. Until then, here are Emilia Clarke’s best performances, ranked.
5 Terminator Genisys
It’s 2029 and John Connor, leader of the resistance against Skynet, sends his lieutenant Kyle Reese back to 1984 Los Angeles to protect his mother, Sarah Connor. He isn’t alone in the task of protecting Sarah, as he finds a T-800 has already told Sarah everything about the future, including who he is. Can they fix the fractured timeline and help the humans finally beat Skynet?
Over the years, the Terminator franchise has undergone a few reboots to bring popularity back to the films. Clarke’s performance as Sarah Connor in Terminator Genisys was memorable and showed her action side that we have seen a bit in the Game of Thrones series. All the time travel parts make the film a little hard to follow, but it was overall a nice new story for the franchise.
4 Last Christmas
Kate has been the victim of some bad decisions in her life and is a bit of a screw-up. She bounces around, not having her own place and having become distant from her family. While working as an elf in a year-round Christmas store, she meets a man named Tom Webster, but their conversation is cut short when a bird poops on her. Her life is falling apart, as it has been for some time, but she grows closer to Tom, eventually opening up to him about her recent heart transplant. Shortly after, Tom disappears and Kate tries to find him again only to find out something more about herself in the process.
Last Christmas is a touching and funny holiday movie that showed us the fun side of Clarke that seems to come naturally to her. The film, which is based on the popular song by Wham!, is the perfect cutesy film to add to your holiday repertoire. Clarke’s goofy demeanor brings a great blend of humor and romance to the holiday film.
3 Solo: A Star Wars Story
If you have watched the Star Wars films, then you are familiar with Han Solo. Solo: A Star Wars Story shows more of the character before we met him all these years ago. It’s a story about how Han Solo came to be the galaxy’s greatest smuggler before he crossed paths with the rebellion. We also get to see a bit more about how Han came to get his name, meet his partner in crime in Chewbacca, and how he came to join the rebellion.
In this origin story for Han Solo, Clarke plays Qi’ra, Han Solo’s girlfriend and fellow smuggler. When she is captured, Han vows to return to save her thus bringing him to join the Empire as a pilot and receiving his name: Han Solo. The film itself was a success, with high praise coming for the special effects. It’s one of the few spin-offs and stand-alone films that has been added to the Star Wars franchise over the years that have helped add more background to the beloved characters.
2 Me Before You
Lou Clark takes on the job of a caregiver for Will Traynor, a thrill-seeker turned quadriplegic after he was involved in a motorcycle accident. Lou has a bright and fun personality, whereas Will has resigned himself to misery after the accident took away everything he loved in life. The two form a bond and Lou’s beliefs are put to the test as she learns the real reason why she was hired by Will’s parents.
Me Before You is based on the novel series of the same name by Jojo Moyes. The novel series contains three books that revolve around Lou. While there have been no plans to turn the second and third novels into films, the movie adaptation of the first book was a success. Clarke’s portrayal of the happy Lou appears to come very naturally to the actress. From her bright clothes to her facial expressions, her acting was over-the-top in the best way as she was able to really capture Moyes’ written character.
1 Game of Thrones
The Targaryen family is one of the nine noble families that fight for control of Westeros. The Targaryens used to rule, but were overthrown, leaving Daenerys and her brother to flee to safe land. Her brother uses Daenerys’ beauty and name to marry her to Khal Drogo — the leader of the vicious Dothrak — as part of his master plan to win his throne back. Throughout the series, Daenerys battles many foes in order to reclaim her throne and her title.
Clarke’s character Daenerys Targaryen was often talked about for her character evolution throughout Game of Thrones. She starts out as a pawn for her brother, takes on and befriends a war-driven leader, survives a night in flames, outsmarts many of the men of Westeros, and raises three dragons on her own. It’s no secret that Clarke had her work cut out for her in portraying the strong and fierce Daenerys. While not everyone was on board with her from the beginning, Clarke succeeded all expectations, earning herself four Emmy nominations throughout the series.