How Emilia Clarke’s Eye Color Change Made ‘Game of Thrones’ Even More Magical

When HBO decided to bring George R.R. Martin’s sprawling fantasy saga “A Song of Ice and Fire” to the screen in 2011, they embarked on a challenging yet exhilarating journey. “Game of Thrones” quickly ascended to global fame, captivating audiences with its complex characters and intricate plots. Among the myriad of adaptations necessary for this transition from page to screen, one particular choice concerning Emilia Clarke’s portrayal of Daenerys Targaryen stands out—not just for its visual impact but for its profound effect on her performance.

How Emilia Clarke's Eye Color Change Made 'Game of Thrones' Even More Magical
Clarke’s Eyes Spark On-Screen Magic

A Crucial Change from the Books

In Martin’s novels, Daenerys Targaryen is depicted with striking violet eyes, a hallmark of her Valyrian descent. This detail was initially intended to be replicated on the show. However, the decision to forego colored contact lenses and retain Clarke’s natural green eyes was not merely an aesthetic choice but a pivotal one for the actress’s comfort and ability to connect with her role.

“They were uncomfortable and didactically impeded my performance,” Clarke shared in an interview sourced from Thrones Facts on X (formerly Twitter).

Opting instead for authenticity, this modification allowed Clarke to deliver a more natural and emotionally resonant performance, which earned her critical acclaim and several Emmy nominations.

How Emilia Clarke's Eye Color Change Made 'Game of Thrones' Even More Magical
Eye Color Enhances Fantasy TV

Impact Beyond the Screen

This artistic liberty didn’t just define Clarke’s portrayal but also set a precedent for the series’ spin-off, “House of the Dragon,” which similarly eschewed colored lenses for its Targaryen characters. This consistency in artistic decisions across the franchise underscores a commitment to actor comfort and performance integrity, emphasizing naturalism over strict adherence to source material.

How Emilia Clarke's Eye Color Change Made 'Game of Thrones' Even More Magical
Magic in Game of Thrones

Triumph Over Adversity

Clarke’s journey as Daenerys was paralleled by her off-screen battles, notably her recovery from two aneurysms during the early seasons of the show. Her resilience in facing these health scares, coupled with the physical demands of a role surrounded by VFX-heavy scenes and extensive travel, showcased her dedication.

How Emilia Clarke's Eye Color Change Made 'Game of Thrones' Even More Magical
Emilia Clarke’s Transformative Eye Color

“The challenges were many, but my commitment to Daenerys and the story we were telling on ‘Game of Thrones’ was unwavering,” Clarke reflected on her experience.

The Legacy of a Targaryen Queen

Emilia Clarke’s portrayal of Daenerys Targaryen remains a highlight of “Game of Thrones,” largely due to the nuanced and powerful performances she brought to the screen. The decision to retain her natural eye color, while a small deviation from the books, had a significant impact on her ability to embody the character fully. This choice not only enhanced her performance but also contributed to the series’ monumental success, proving that sometimes, a slight deviation can lead to a greater authenticity and connection with the audience.

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