Emilia Clarke knew that taking a monumental role in Game of Thrones would shape her career. But, she didn't anticipate how much the entertainment industry would "pigeonhole" her for something she agreed to in the first season: nudity. Clarke said her minimal nudity on camera for the HBO show led her to turn down the lead role in 50 Shades of Grey.
"Well, Sam [Taylor-Johnson, 50 Shades' director] is a magician. I love her, and I thought her vision was beautiful," Clarke said during a roundtable discussion with The Hollywood Reporter. "But the last time that I was naked on camera on [Game of Thrones] was a long time ago, and yet it is the only question that I ever get asked because I am a woman. And it's annoying as hell, and I'm sick and tired of it because I did it for the character — I didn't do it so some guy could check out my tits, for God's sake."
The nude scenes she referred to weren't the most empowering, either. If you'll recall, Khal Drogo repeatedly raped Daenerys at the beginning of their relationship. It wasn't until one of her final nude scenes — when she rose from the ashes of Drogo's pyre holding three dragon eggs — that she seemed confident. Yes, she was nude, but her bare body had nothing to do with pleasing a man; she was reborn, triumphant and, finally, independent.
It seems that women's nudity garners much more attention than men's. How often do you hear reporters asking Kit Harington (Jon Snow) about the times he's shown his derrière on the show?
Clarke said she knew taking the 50 Shades role would only encourage more offers of projects that required nudity and sex scenes, which is why she passed.
"I was like, 'I can't,'" she continued. "I did a minimal amount, and I'm pigeonholed for life, so me saying yes to that, where the entire thing is about sensuality and sex and being naked and all of that stuff, I was just like, 'No way am I going to voluntarily walk into that situation and then never be able to look someone in the eye and be like, 'No, you can't keep asking me this question.'"
Sex scenes, and their requisite nudity, can play a powerful role in a character's development or storyline — just like getting a job, traveling to another country, or torching an entire city with a dragon can. Nudity shouldn't define an actor's capabilities; instead, it should be celebrated as equally as their other personal and on-screen accomplishments.