The hit series Game of Thrones, launched in 2011, captivated the French audience, but the abundance of sex scenes did not go unnoticed. It put the actors in awkward situations. Before Emilia Clarke landed the role of Daenerys Targaryen, it was 35-year-old Tamzin Merchant who had been cast for the part. However, the actress quickly stepped back and explained why during an interview with Entertainment Weekly, revealing an uncomfortable memory from filming.
Shooting that pilot was a big lesson. It was an assertion of my instincts because I did follow them. I tried and managed to extricate myself from that situation and that contract. Some rather persuasive people tried to convince me to come back. But I found myself naked and scared on a horse in Morocco. And the animal was clearly more excited than I was, she explained.
Due to these uncomfortable intimate scenes, Tamzin Merchant did not feel comfortable with the role of Daenerys or with Game of Thrones. That's why she left the series quickly. I had no acting experience, and I only had my instincts. What interests me are compelling stories and characters. For me, that's not what Game of Thrones ever was. I think we have to acknowledge that Emilia Clarke made this role iconic. She really wanted to tell that journey. She was epic and excellent. but my heart wasn't in it. A decision she doesn't seem to regret, especially since it contributed to propelling Emilia Clarke's career.
Despite initially casting Tamzin Merchant for the role of Daenerys in Game of Thrones, the series' producers accepted her decision to leave quickly. They immediately informed her that she would be replaced. The production justified her departure by explaining that her scenes with Jason Momoa, who portrayed Khal Drogo, were not working. Explanations that remained somewhat mysterious but ultimately paved the way for young Emilia Clarke to take on the role. Her on-screen chemistry with Jason Momoa became iconic for the series.