Emilia Clarke has revealed she survived two life-threatening brain aneurysms.
The Game of Thrones actress recalled her incredible – and secret – story of survival in an open letter in The New Yorker, detailing how she was first struct down after being cast in her breakout role on the award-winning show.
"On the morning of February 11, 2011, I was getting dressed in the locker room of a gym in Crouch End, North London, when I started to feel a bad headache coming on.
"I reached the toilet, sank to my knees, and proceeded to be violently, voluminously ill. Meanwhile, the pain—shooting, stabbing, constricting pain—was getting worse. At some level, I knew what was happening: my brain was damaged," she wrote.
Emilia was 24 at the time, and had just been cast as Daenerys Targaryen.
"Just when all my childhood dreams seemed to have come true, I nearly lost my mind and then my life.
"For a few moments, I tried to will away the pain and the nausea. I said to myself, 'I will not be paralysed.' I moved my fingers and toes to make sure that was true. To keep my memory alive, I tried to recall, among other things, some lines from Game of Thrones."
"I was sent for an MRI, a brain scan. The diagnosis was quick and ominous: a subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH), a life-threatening type of stroke, caused by bleeding into the space surrounding the brain. I’d had an aneurysm, an arterial rupture. As I later learned, about a third of SAH patients die immediately or soon thereafter," she explained of her condition, which she'd previously denied.
In 2013, she underwent a second life or death brain surgery for a second aneurysm.
"In the years since my second surgery I have healed beyond my most unreasonable hopes. I am now at a hundred per cent."
Ahead of the GOT series finale in May, Emilia said she's come full circle. "There is something gratifying, and beyond lucky, about coming to the end of Thrones. I’m so happy to be here to see the end of this story and the beginning of whatever comes next."