Warning! Spoilers for the Game of Thrones Series Finale ahead.
When she first read of her character's drastic changes in the end, Clarke was stunned.
"What, what, what, WHAT!?" the actress recalled thinking in an interview with Entertainment Weekly published after the finale aired. "Because it comes out of f—king nowhere. I'm flabbergasted. Absolutely never saw that coming."
In "The Bells," Daenerys chose to take innocent lives during her sack of King's Landing, even killing Lannister soldiers after they surrendered. During Sunday's finale, Dany died at the hands of Jon Snow (Kit Harington), the man who once loved her and bent the knee.
Ultimately though, he realized her bloodlust was too much and both Arya (Maisie Williams) and Sansa (Sophie Turner) would be in danger because they knew of his claim to the Iron Throne.
Danys' character shift and death opened the door to a new Westeros, one ruled by Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead-Wright).
Clarke told EW she got the final scripts in October 2017, after she finished filming Solo: A Star Wars Story and returned to London after a vacation. She said she "completely flipped out" to her traveling companion and rushed out of the airport to read them. Once she got home, she flipped through the pages and could not believe what she was reading.
"I cried. And I went for a walk," she told EW. "I walked out of the house and took my keys and phone and walked back with blisters on my feet. I didn't come back for five hours. I'm like, 'How am I going to do this?'"
Clarke went on to describe it as a "f–ing struggle" to read the scripts for the final season, but it was important for her to not disagree with her character. If she is going to give a good performance, she had to "stand by" Dany's decisions.
"An actor should never be afraid to look ugly. We have uglier sides to ourselves," Clarke explained. "And after 10 years of working on this show, it's logical. Where else can she go? I tried to think what the ending will be. It's not like she's suddenly going to go, 'Okay, I'm gonna put a kettle on and put cookies in the oven and we'll just sit down and have a lovely time and pop a few kids out.' That was never going to happen. She's a Targaryen."
When all is said and done, Clarke said she will defend Dany's controversial decisions.
"But having said all of the things I've just said… I stand by Daenerys," the actress said. "I stand by her! I can't not."
Photo credit: HBO