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Why Game of Thrones’ Original Daenerys Chose to Walk Out

Fans of Game of Thrones will instantly recognise Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen.

The British actress is now synonymous with the role that she played so wonderfully for all 8 seasons of the groundbreaking epic. But she very nearly didn’t get the part, because of another actress.

Initially, Tamzin Merchant was booked to play Dany. But after filming the pilot (which was ultimately scrapped anyway), she decided GoT wasn’t for her and quit the role.

And despite the success of the show, it’s not something she regrets. Indeed, she told Entertainment Weekly that shooting the pilot was a “really great lesson” in listening to her instincts “and following them”.

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In fact, she had tried to get out of the role previously but was convinced to take it by “some persuasive people.”

However, having agreed to play Daenerys in the pilot, she then found herself “naked and afraid in Morocco…riding a horse that was clearly much more excited to be there than (she) was.”

For years, rumours circulated that it was HBO who made the decision to recast the role as part of a raft of changes that followed the infamously dire pilot that was disliked by everyone who saw it – apart from George RR Martin who said he liked it.

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Although he did later recognise that he was the wrong person to judge it as he was “too close.” The story goes that HBO decided to replace many of the major roles with actors they considered ‘sexier’ after taking the decision to make it more graphic and adult.

And Jason Momoa (who played Khal Drogo) was glad of the switch as he said that, although Tamzin Merchant was “great” as Dany, “everything clicked” when Emilia Clarke took on the role.

And we know there was clear chemistry between them in the show that eventually aired.

While Merchant refutes the suggestion that it was HBOs decision to cut her, she does acknowledge that, if she were to do the pilot again she’d perform better in the role.

And she only has praise for the way that Emilia Clarke was “epic and excellent” as she made the role iconic.”

Merchant said her successor as Dany was “obviously excited to tell that story” and believes that it was the actor’s passion for the role that made her such a success.

Since turning down the role in Game of Thrones, Merchant hasn’t been short of work. She has appeared in several movies, including playing Rhonu in two features in the fantasy series Dragonheart.

She also had a main role as Anna Hale in the hit TV show Salem that ran from 2014 – 2017, a role for which she received a nomination for Best TV Supporting Actress at the Fangoria Chainsaw Awards for horror and thriller films.

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