For all of Game of Thrones' problems during those seasons of endless gratuitous rape scenes, the show apparently got one thing very right with regard to women. In an interview with Variety at the Cannes Film Festival on Tuesday, Emilia Clarke said she received equal pay on the HBO series from day one.
"On Game of Thrones, I have always been paid the same amount as my male costars,” Clarke said. “It was my first job, and I was not discriminated against because I was a woman, in my paycheck.”
That is impressive, particularly because Clarke was so inexperienced at the time. Often in TV and movies (as in other industries), producers justify paying male stars more because they're more established. When reporters exposed the fact that on The Crown, Claire Foy — relatively unknown before she played Queen Elizabeth — earned much less than former Doctor Who star Matt Smith.
Game of Thrones' producers certainly could have made that case for Sean Bean or Peter Dinklage, even though Clarke's Daenarys Targaryan appeared onscreen as much as they did. (We would love to hear more about how they made their salary calculations and how they're leaning on their colleagues to do the same on other shows.)
Clarke said she had a rude awakening when she realized that not all productions would automatically adhere to her first job's philosophy, not even after she was famous for being the Mother of Dragons.
"So, when there would come a job where that was maybe being discussed, again, it was shocking, actually shocking," she told Variety.
Knowing that this might happen now helps Clarke and her reps during salary negotiations. She says the key is asking, "Can you just check?" of whether she's getting paid the same as her male counterparts, and fighting for that right. She doesn't have to remind her team of this anymore.
"They already know," she laughed.