Tamzin Merchant, the actor Emilia Clarke replaced as Daenerys Targaryen, details her uncomfortable experience for the unaired Game of Thrones Pilot
Today, Emilia Clarke’s name is synonymous with Daenerys Targaryen. She is the tenable face of House Targaryen and all the perks that come with it. However, that wasn’t how the showrunners initially pictured it to be. Instead, Tamzin Merchant was the actor to play the part before Emilia in an unaired Game of Thrones pilot. Tamzin may not have shared the same popularity that Emilia did. However, she did have to undergo a terrible and uncomfortable ordeal on the set of the show, much as Emilia Clarke did.
Tamzin Merchant, the previous Daenerys Targaryen, details how uncomfortable the nude scenes were in Game of Thrones
While talking to Entertainment Weekly in January, Merchant revealed how difficult shooting the pilot episode was for her. It made her realize to trust her instincts when a role does not feel right. And playing Daenerys Targaryen did not seem right to her, as the actor said:
Shooting that pilot was a really great lesson. It was an affirmation about listening to my instincts and following them, because I tried to back out of that situation and, during the contract process, I did back out. I was talked back into it by some persuasive people. Then I found myself naked and afraid in Morocco and riding a horse that was clearly much more excited to be there than I was.
This scene was part of Daenerys’s wedding night in the pilot. However, this was made more seductive by the showrunners than the one starring Emilia Clarke. It even involved the horse being stimulated in one shot of the explicit scene. This taught Merchant a valuable lesson, as she said:
It was a lesson that if my guts are telling me a story isn’t something I’m excited to tell, then I shouldn’t try to be excited just because other people are telling me that I should be excited.
Other incidents of harassment and abuse
Sadly, the inappropriate behavior and uncomfortable scenes for women were far from over on Game of Thrones. Future Daenerys Targaryen Emilia Clarke also had to shoot “terrifying” nude scenes, where the crew didn’t even leave her any robes. Only Jason Momoa went out of her way to protect her in an environment that was hostile for her as well as other women. Other than Emilia, Daenerys’s assistant and confidant Missandei actress Nathalie Emmanuel also faced sexual harassment at the hands of a supporting actor during the shooting of season 3 on the set of the show. And Emilia Clarke stepped in to save her and got her back, which resulted in an unbreakable bond between the two. However, these were far from being the only uncomfortable moments on the set of the show.
A Twitter user daenerysgfs recently made a thread and highlighted how problematic the set of Game of Thrones truly was. There was even an inappropriate comment by the author George RR Martin during the auditions for the role of Shae. Therefore, these multiple incidents indicate an incident of systemic sexism and misogyny on the sets of Game of Thrones, at the very least.