Last month, Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke opened up for the first time about surviving two brain aneurysms during the early years of the show. In 2011, Clarke was rushed to the hospital after suffering a stroke, and received life-saving surgery for a subarachnoid hemorrhage. In her op-ed for the New Yorker, the actress reflected on the insurmountable fear she felt during the experience.
During a recent interview with CBS This Morning, Clarke shed more light on the two experiences, sharing unseen photos of herself from when she was hospitalized. "Basically, I was in the gym, the most excruciating pain, like an elastic band just went, like, snap in my head," the actress told the show's hosts. "I felt an enormous amount of pressure suddenly, and then very, very, very quickly I realized I couldn't stand and I couldn't walk, and in that moment I knew I was being brain damaged."
After discovering the hemorrhagic stroke, Clarke miraculously caught the brain bleed on time and was able to return to the set of Thrones six weeks later. "It's like, 'Hey, thanks for giving me the job. Super appreciate it. I just had a little thing. It's fine. I'm fine.' And so I was pretty much fine," she laughed. "Six weeks after that I was back at work."
However, the actress suffered another swollen blood vessel in her brain two years later, and it nearly took her life. "So, with the second one, there was a bit of my brain that actually died," Clarke explained. "If a part of your brain doesn't get blood to it for a minute, it will just no longer work. It's like you short-circuit. So, I had that. And they didn't know what it was. They literally were looking at the brain and being like, 'Well, we think it could be her concentration, it could be her peripheral vision.'
Clarke suspects that it was her taste in men that was ultimately damaged. "I always say it's my taste in men that's no longer there! That's the part of my brain, yeah, my decent taste in men."
Despite her humorous attitude, Emilia was frightened that the effect on her brain would prevent her from being able to continue acting. "Really, really, really did. That was a deep paranoia, from the first one as well. I was like, 'What if something has short-circuited in my brain and I can't act anymore?' I mean, literally it's been my reason for living for a very long time!"
Ultimately Clarke found that playing Daenerys Targaryen, a fearless female leader, allowed her to embody that character in her personal life and avoid thinking about her own mortality. She also confirmed that she's in the clear when it comes to her brain, after enduring two traumatic health scares. You can watch the full interview above.
The final season of Game of Thrones will return to HBO on April 14.