Esquire Magazine has announced “Game of Thrones” star Emilia Clarke as its Sexiest Woman Alive. The announcement comes on the heels of competitor GQ naming her Woman of the Year last month.
“Emilia Clarke is unforgettable in ‘Game of Thrones’ and was hands down the number one choice of Esquire’s staff, friends and family,” Lisa Hintelmann, Esquire’s editorial projects director, said in an email.
Clarke, 28 and from London, portrays white-haired Daenerys Targaryen (aka: Khaleesi), the Mother of Dragons, on the wildly popular HBO series. She’s a fan favorite and has earned plaudits from critics for her nuanced acting.
She’s the second child of working class parents who succeeded despite modest upbringings. Her mother started as a secretary and became a marketing executive. And her father toiled as a roadie for big-budget musicals before advancing to sound specialist.
Clarke studied drama in college, and after graduation managed to appear on a couple of episodes of “Doctors”, a long-running English daytime soap opera. Otherwise though, she just scraped by, taking various jobs, until she got her big break.
In her Esquire interview, she says she had to go online and brush up on the series before she auditioned at age 23.
“I had two scenes which told me nothing and not very much time in which to read all those (George R.R. Martin) books,” she says. “So I did what every good actor does and Wikipedia’d the living crap out of it.”
So far, her character has survived an arranged marriage to a primitive warrior, been betrayed by one of her trusted lieutenants and repelled a number of challenges to her power. Her portrayal of Daenerys, a subtle mix of strength and vulnerability, has brought two Emmy nominations her way.
Sex and nude scenes have been difficult, Clarke says, recalling one in particular that seemingly shows her being violated by her new husband on their wedding night.
“Once, I had to take a little time out,” she remembers. “I said I needed a cup of tea, had a bit of a cry, and was ready for the next scene.”
The men’s magazine’s annual honor has been won previously by Penelope Cruz and Scarlett Johansson.
Clarke appears on the cover of Esquire’s November issue and in various states of undress inside the magazine.