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Emilia Clarke has gorgeous hair. Long, dark, just the right amount of body and wave.
She\'s a walking L\'Oréal campaign. The irony, of course, is that few of us have actually seen Clarke\'s hair, hidden as it is under Daenerys Targaryen\'s regal waist-length blonde locks in
Well, regal blonde wig. There are a few wigs, in fact, housed in the show\'s mythical "wig room" at its studio base in Northern Ireland, Clarke explains over tea at Los Angeles\'s Sunset Marquis hotel. "The wig room is incredible," she says. "Every character has a wig almost, because we\'ve all got bonkers hair. I have named mine. Seasons 1 and 2, she was just Dany. And then Diva came along [following Daenerys\'s Mother of Dragons moment], she\'s completely huge. She didn\'t behave herself."
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The joy of Clarke is that she doesn\'t behave herself either. While
is bloody and sexy, Clarke is saucy. Plonking down in a fuzzy Coach sweater (featuring a
creature that looks like the love child of Karl Lagerfeld and a rabbit), faded Levi\'s, and punky white Dior pumps, she has a quick wit and a ribald humor. She admits to trying to "blag" one of Khaleesi\'s dragon eggs (which birthed three now poorly behaved teenage dragons), to no avail. "Apparently Jay Z bought one for Beyoncé, or something," she laughs. "I don\'t know." No eggs reside in the Clarke residence because "they are really, really, really expensive and they are really fucking heavy and serious works of art." Like Fabergé? "Eggs-actly! Eggs-cellent!"
first aired, have been a game changer for the British-born Clarke, 28, who jobbed around in random television gigs before winning her role in 2010. "I was literally so over the moon to have an audition, just an audition, let alone for HBO," she recalls. "I was doing a million jobs and thinking it would never happen. Not a chance. Not. A. Chance."
That was then. Now Clarke still gets a kick out of the spectacle of it all. "That\'s my face; it\'s on that television. \'It\'s not TV, it\'s HBO.\' But every time I see it and every time I hear it, I wait for [sings] the
is a monolith, averaging more than 19 million viewers an episode, besting HBO\'s previous cultural capstone The Sopranos. There are Daenerys Targaryen dolls and key rings, and scores of fans who chant "Khaleesi!" (Clarke\'s queenly moniker) like a mantra.
"Games of Thrones opened a lot of doors. It opened them all."
Not to mention the odd Hollywood obsessive. "Someone took a fantasy in my head and played it in real life," Clarke remembers. "I was at a Golden Globes after-party and Channing Fucking Tatum came up to me, and his stunning missus, Jenna. And they said, \'We call each other "moon of my life" and "my sun and stars" and all that.\' And I was like, \'I cannot contain this. Please, can we all have something sexual together? You\'re both beautiful, even just a hug.\' " (To date, no gentleman has tried this line on Clarke. "Someone definitely should," she says, cackling.)
\'s success has afforded Clarke is a curious hybrid of plaudits and—because she doesn\'t swan around town in long blonde wigs—relative anonymity. That will soon change, however, with the July 1 release of Terminator Genisys, in which she plays the legendary Sarah Connor. Connor has Clarke\'s natural-brown hair, and her weapon of choice is not flying dragons but a large gun.
So rather more people will recognize Clarke soon enough. "Yeah, I think things might change," she says cautiously. "It feels funny. I am about to sound really boring, but the life I love is really chill and modest. I don\'t quite know how that is going to be too interrupted. \'She says naively.\'" Currently, when Clarke is with family or friends, "and someone stops me and says, \'Oh, can I have a picture?,\' they keep forgetting that anyone knows me!"
Clarke started her training for Terminator in January of last year, but don\'t expect her to be doing pull-ups like the insanely buff Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2. "This Sarah has a different backstory," she explains. "She\'s grown up knowing what she had to do." As did Clarke: Get strong. "The hours were so long and the guns were so heavy, so I had to get myself into a place where I wouldn\'t crap out at four o\'clock. And also I am the only girl, so I wanted to be like, \'Hey, boys, let me give you a run for your money.\' " On working with Terminator 1.0 Arnold Schwarzenegger, she says, "It never gets old. He was so much fun. I expected this massive ego to turn up, but he is this charming, sweet, kind man. He got really excited to film the scenes."
The shoot wrapped last August and Clarke went straight to
through December, while commuting to Tuscany to make a supernatural thriller,
, in the middle of it all. Can she speak Italian? "Sto morendo di fame fottutamente! That means \'I am fucking starving!\' " Clarke is heading to London in a few days to start shooting the romantic drama Me Before You, which not only gives her "mushy" joy but also allows her to be at home in Hampstead for the first time in months.
opened a lot of doors," she says. "It opened them all." She has gotten her "badass" hit with Terminator—"that big, awesome storytelling. Like when you were a kid and you imagined it. That\'s bonkers." But now, "I\'m wanting to do smaller character pieces, more serious things, less tennis ball and green sticks and special effects. For this next one I don\'t need a stunt double or anything!"
either, much to the delight of the swaths of the show\'s fan base. In the first season\'s final, epic scene, where Daenerys rises from the ashes, naked, with dragon hatchlings alighting on her shoulder, she cheerfully shares a tale of "charred boobies and a modesty patch."
"The crew was a few cliffs over," she continues, "so it\'s me, four or five extras, and Iain Glen [the loyal-to-a-fault Ser Jorah]. Iain does this thing where he lifts his head up and his face goes, \'Aahh, naked lady.\' But because they were filming so far away, what he said was \'Great tits, love.\' " She lets out a huge guffaw. "I\'m like, \'The camera\'s not on you, can you stop commenting on how good you think these breasts are?\' "
Clarke has always had moxie, though. Her youth-ful determination was intriguingly mixed with her love for fashion. "When I was 11 or 12 or something, people would say, \'Do you promise? Cross your heart, hope to die?\' I would be like, \'I swear on Chanel,\' " she says. Everyone was like, \'Oh, shit, she means it.\' " Chanel was everything to the young Clarke, and still is. "My mom had a Chanel lipstick that was bright red. My granny was really chic and really just brilliant. When I describe her, I\'m sort of describing Coco. She was right on it."
"Can you stop commenting on how good you think these breasts are?"
Clarke has played dress-up for years. "My friends would say, \'Emilia is the most dressed person at anything.\' I\'ve always wanted to jazz it up." The previous day she was paparazzied at LAX airport in a pink Simone Rocha tulle coat, placing her white Dior pumps on the security tray. "Oh, the Rocha ... " She lets out a moan. "A bright pink little foam skirt, with a stiff white lace jacket. That\'s one of my favorite things ever. I get one thing I love and I wear it to death." Pink is a theme. "Pink Céline shoes, super pretty, they go with everything. Though now they are covered in mud and shit. Because I wear these lovely clothes, lovely shoes, and then I will go for a walk on Hampstead Heath. I come back and they are ruined. My mother never lets me hear the end of it."
What can\'t she wear that she would love to? "Shorts," she replies instantly. "I can\'t do it. My thighs, they are here. They are making themselves known, and they like skirts, they like trousers. But they don\'t like shorts." She admires the style of other ladies, "Half because they are \'fit\' [Brit for "hot"]. Like Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. But I\'m like, \'I can\'t wear that because I am not a seven-foot-tall goddess with perfect everything.\' "
While she loves fashion, Clarke is far from a fashion person. "I am so not a fashionista. I walk into those parties, and I\'m like, \'Hey, guys!\' Everyone\'s looking really cool, sipping on some mental cocktail, and I\'m like, \'Can I have a cup of tea?\' Such an idiot."
, debating an upcoming battle, Daenerys announces to her latest consort, "I am a queen, not a butcher." Ever tried that at home? "Oh, yes!" Clarke grins. She adopts an expression both solemn and majestic: "I want the chicken, not the beef."
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