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Emilia Clarke Reveals How She Felt After Undergoing Brain Surgeries

It takes more than losing a beloved dragon to know what pain feels like; for Emilia Clarke, she has endured even more.

The Game of Thrones star recently revealed that she has had to deal with a lot of physical pain after her two brain surgeries following an aneurysm; she said that her long recovery was a blow to her mental health, and left her feeling “deeply unattractive.”

Clarke, 32, further stated that after her emergency brain surgeries — the first in February 2011 and the second in 2013 — she hated the way she looked.

Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones

“I was so full of drugs from being in the hospital that I had a lot of water retention, and one half of my face was quite swollen,” she told the U.K. site Stylist. “I felt so deeply unattractive.”

But the actress eventually realized that her self-avoidance was not just about bodily changes.

“What I can see now is that I could see the pain behind my eyes. And no amount of anything can cover that,” she said.


Clarke said she went so far as to avoid mirrors.

“After my operations, I didn’t want to look at my own face,” she said. “I don’t normally, but all my emotions were heightened. When I looked in the mirror, I just saw pain in my eyes. I found it very, very difficult. I used to put on make-up without looking in the mirror, which probably made me look a lot worse.”

“[Now] I always err on the side of wearing less makeup,” she said. “My face didn’t change, but my feelings about myself changed. When you can look at yourself in the eyes and feel okay with what’s looking back at you, then what more do you need?”

Thankfully, Clarke is well beyond those days now — both physically and mentally — regardless of how the experience influenced how she thinks about makeup and herself in general.

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