Game of Thrones Fans Should Be Thankful There Was 1 Major Difference Between George R.R. Martin’s Daenerys and Emilia Clarke’s Character

Emilia Clarke’s portrayal of Daenerys Targaryen involved an eye color change during the filming of Game of Thrones.

George R. R. Martin and Daenerys Targaryen
Credits: Wikimedia Commons/Gage Skidmore


  • Emilia Clarke’s natural eyes were retained for her portrayal of Daenerys Targaryen, deviating from the book’s description of purple eyes.
  • The decision to avoid colored contact lenses for Targaryen characters was also adopted in the spin-off series, House of the Dragon.
  • Clarke’s health challenges did not deter her and she continued to deliver powerful performances.
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In 2011, HBO embarked on a mega-prospect to adapt George R.R. Martin’s fantasy novels into live-action. A production that started off with grounded ambition soon took flight to become one of the world’s most recognizable and acclaimed series of such genre, at least for most of it. Starring the likes of Emilia Clarke, Kit Harington, Lena Headey, and Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones went on to rule global charts. However, the process of creating this behemoth did not come easy and did involve certain challenges, forcing changes.

Emilia Clarke in a still from Game of Thrones | HBO
Emilia Clarke in a still from Game of Thrones | HBO

At times, the show drastically moved away from the books and the original intentions of the author. While some changes caused furors and caused a dip in ratings, others proved beneficial and even helped the project fare better. One such instance involved Clarke and her story as a Targaryen descendant and a decision by the showrunners completely altered how her character would have come across on the screens.

The Game of Thrones canon deviation that helped Emilia Clarke give her best

In his books, George R R Martin described Daenerys Stormborn, the later-to-be Targaryen and Emilia Clarke’s character, as one inheriting perfect Valyrian looks. While her slender looks. pale skin and silver hair made their way onto the show without any deviation, her eyes made a switch. David Benioff and Daniel Weiss, the show creators, decided to retain the actress’ natural green eyes instead of the purple/violet ones as stated in the books, as per Thrones Facts on X (formerly Twitter).

Emilia Clarke's distinctive natural eyes in a still from Game of Thrones | HBO
Emilia Clarke’s distinctive natural eyes in a still from Game of Thrones | HBO

The makers did, in fact, try experimenting with lore-accurate color contact lenses for Clarke. However, they came across as too uncomfortable and distracting, which not only dissuaded her from wearing them for extended periods of time but also impacted her acting ability. Ultimately, in the interest of the show, a deviation was made and it, in turn, allowed the Emmy-nominated star to deliver some of the best performances ever witnessed on TV.

Interestingly, the decision to make deviations also carried over to the show’s spin-off series. Its prequel adaptation of House of the Dragon followed the same artistic choices and kept its cast’s natural eye colors even though almost a majority of them were Targaryens and should have had their distinctive eyes from the books.

Filming the mega-saga did not come easy for the actress

Emilia Clarke as Danaerys in Game of Thrones | HBO
Emilia Clarke as Danaerys in Game of Thrones | HBO

Rated overwhelmingly positive for its first season, that Game of Thrones shooting run in 2011 gave Emilia Clarke major scares. The actress suffered two cases of aneurysms and collapsed, only to be eventually diagnosed with life-threatening subarachnoid hemorrhage. Fortunately, she made a complete recovery, but her struggles had hardly begun then as soon after she struggled with aphasia.


In a show of determination and commitment to her craft, she went ahead with the shooting. Thereafter, challenges such as VFX-heavy scenes involving dragons, extensively spread-out shooting locations, and overnight fame also took a toll on Clarke. Yet, none stood strong enough to crush her spirit as she rose to the top and became one of the highest-grossing actresses in the entertainment industry.


Written by Imteshal Karim

Articles Published: 120

Bearing a penchant for writing in multiple forms, I love telling a good story and hope to tell impactful ones about the fandom's side of the Entertainment industry. I found the movie of my life in Christopher Nolan's 2014' s Interstellar, which fascinated me with the perfect blend of science and cinema, leaving me curious about Hollywood. In my leisure time, you will find me indulging in photography, gardening, and cycling.