Game of Thrones became one of the most successful series of all time but there was a point where it seemed the show would be stopped before it even reached tv screens. Tamzin Merchant was originally cast as "Daenerys Targaryen" and even filmed the original pilot but after a flop first episode, she was recast by Emilia Clarke who went on to win awards and great accolades for the role.
Tamzin Merchant On Being Replaced By Emilia Clarke on Game of Thrones
Tamzin Merchant has just spoken for the first time about what it was like to be replaced by Emilia Clarke in the smash-hit series Game of Thrones. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, she said, "Shooting that pilot was a really great lesson."
"It was an affirmation about listening to my instincts and following them, because I tried to back out of that situation and, during the contract process, I did back out. I was talked back into it by some persuasive people. Then I found myself naked and afraid in Morocco and riding a horse that was clearly much more excited to be there than I was."
The original episode was much different than the one fans know today. The relationship between "Khal Drogo" and "Daenery's" had a different dynamic and filming was filled with issues and failures. According to Fire Cannot Kill a Dragon, during the original sex scene between "Drogo" and "Dany", a horse even got an erection that put filming on hold!
Merchant even joked that the horse was more excited to be a part of the series than she was. "It was a lesson that if my guts are telling me a story isn't something I'm excited to tell, then I shouldn't try to be excited just because other people are telling me that I should be excited."
"I didn't have any training as an actor, I only have my instincts. And what excites me and what drives me is a compelling story and a compelling character. So for me, Game of Thrones was never that. I think it's a testament to Emilia Clarke for making that role iconic — she was obviously excited to tell that story, and she was epic and excellent. But for me, it wasn't in my heart to tell it."
According to Fire Cannot Kill a Dragon, the producers found calling Tamzin to tell her she had been recast as "the hardest phone call" they ever had to make. HBO executive explained, "There was a piece of casting we had to rethink, ["Dany's" role] that was compromised. We all knew "Daenerys'" journey was critical. Her scenes with Jason just didn't work."
Another GOT producer Bryan Cogman said, "I thought Tamzin did a really good job. It's hard to say why things didn't work out. Ultimately, it's obvious Emilia Clarke was born to play that part."
Showrunner D.B. Weiss also explained to Variety how Emilia won over the hearts of the HBO executives. During her audition, "Emilia asked if there was anything else she could do to lighten the mood and David asked, 'Can you dance?' And without missing a beat, Emilia did the robot."
"She did it with commitment and she did it well, and even the president had no choice but to smile. She got the job 10 seconds after she left the room and the two of us ran to tell her before she left the building because letting her get on an 11-hour flight home without knowing seemed like cruel and unusual punishment."
Tamzin's view of the whole ordeal is quite impressive and seems to agree with fans that no one was more perfect for the part than Emilia.