Stars like Emilia Clarke don’t appear very often, but when they do, the world can’t stop talking about them—and that’s exactly the case with the Game of Thrones beauty. Clarke is currently taking Broadway by storm as she makes her debut in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. As the iconic Holly Golightly in the new stage adaptation of Truman Capote’s novella, the actress is an explosive personality in a pint-sized package, and her enthusiasm translates off stage as well. Broadway.com chatted with the newly minted Broadway star about her New York theater experience, falling in love with Capote and why her nude scene is really no big deal.
How has Broadway been treating you so far?
Absolutely amazingly. I feel the most creatively fulfilled that I’ve ever felt, having this experience.
Why did you choose this show for your Broadway debut?
Getting the call telling me that this was a possibility, I was freaking out because it was like my birthday, Christmas, everything rolled into one. It was the most exciting prospect. Audrey Hepburn was an icon of mine from a very young age and I love, love, love New York, especially in the ‘40s. And then Truman Capote’s novella came into my life, and it was like cherry on the cake. It was never even a question in my mind to take this role.
What do you relate to in the character of Holly Golightly?
She’s a survivor. At her core is a scared, young girl who came up in a very frightening world. It’s a wonderful opportunity to be able to see the mask that she has put on, and get to unmask this very broken girl. As an actor, it’s been incredibly fulfilling to get into that mind.
What did you have to do to make Holly your own?
It’s very much taking Capote’s words and really reading that book over and over again. I continue to read it, I don’t know how many times! There’s a recording of Capote reading my favorite scene in the whole play, which is the first bedroom scene between Fred and Holly. I can’t bring myself listen to it because I know it would destroy me, like, “I could never do what Capote’s doing!”
When you’re backstage, do you have a pre-show routine to get into character?
It’s very music oriented, actually. I’m lucky because in our beautiful theater, we’ve got this gorgeous fire escape that goes all the way up. And so I take myself up there with my earphones and do ridiculous things.
I was so surprised to hear your beautiful singing voice in the show. Were you always musical?
Music is something that’s always been a huge part of my life. When I was in my teens, I thought, “Would I like to try and work hard at being an actor, or do I want to work hard at doing something musical?” Acting won out, but I do really enjoy those moments where I get to just belt something out.
There’s been so much buzz about your nude scene in Tiffany's. How do you react to it all?
Fundamentally, there are two things: One, go on YouTube, and you can see everything. Two, it’s done incredibly tastefully. You really don’t see anything. The biggest thing is a wonderful note that [director] Sean [Mathias] gave me: “It’s not Emilia getting into the bath; it’s Holly.”
You grew up loving shows on the West End. Was the stage always your goal, or the screen?
Both, really. I was heavily influenced by the movies I was watching, but also by the stage shows that I was going to. When I’m on stage, I feel very much at home—within a theater, within an ensemble—so this entire process is something I feel very attuned with. In another sense, the film side has been my education, and I’ve fallen in love with that.
Bring me back: do you remember your first stage experience?
It was hilarious, and unfortunately, there’s video documentation of it. I was five or six and it was my first school play. I went on the stage, I forgot all my lines and I just stood there smiling for maybe three minutes, with my mom crying with laughter and my teacher desperately mouthing the words.
What’s been your favorite aspect of working on Game of Thrones?
There’re too many! It’d be quicker to say what I didn’t like about it. [My character] Dany is so much a part of me now, and she’s so much in my blood. It’s my education, the whole thing.
Scenario: Holly Golightly meets Daenerys Targaryen. What happens?
Oh, they would get on like a house on fire! You know those rhino beetles that go head to head? I think that they are two women who are as strong as each other. It would be an absolute, straight-up girl match.
How do Game of Thrones fans compare with fans at the stage door?
They seem to be one and the same at the moment! It’s quite a wonderful thing, even if you thought you did badly, to be able to walk outside and have a couple of people who think otherwise.
Is there a specific show you’d want to do next on Broadway?
My Fair Lady! Not the musical, but the play Pygmalion would be wonderful. Or Lanford Wilson’s The Hot L Baltimore. Or Arthur Miller! The list goes on.
How have you dealt with all the rumors about your love life in the press?
I don’t really read anything about me at all on the Internet. I’m quite protected from it. This play, Game of Thrones—the work in my life is so hectic and so manic that there’s never really much time for romances.
Are you at least enjoying single life in New York?
Oh my goodness, I’m loving it! Being a single girl in New York... it’s what you should be doing in your twenties!
Do you have a favorite Holly Golightly-ism?
"They’ve had the old clap-yo’-hands so many times, it amounts to applause."