Cape Town – Emilia Clarke, better known as Khaleesi, stars in the highly anticipated tearjerker of the year, Me Before You.
Based on the bestselling novel by Jojo Moyes, Emilia plays the role of Louisa (Lou) Clarke who becomes a caregiver for William Traynor (Sam Claflin) after he was left paralysed by an accident.
In an interview Emilia tells us more about the role, filming the movie and what it was like working alongside the cast.
What drew you to the role of Lou? Were you looking to play a contemporary character in the midst of your extraordinary run as Daenarys Targaryen in Game of Thrones?
It was more that I got sent it and thought, ‘There’s not a world where I’m not doing this part. There’s not a world where I’m not fighting tooth-and-nail to play Lou.’ So, it wasn’t so much that I was looking for it, but it found me. And it was just so joyful. It’s funny. Everything I’m known for on-screen is so different from who I am, but with Me Before You, in between takes, I would be no different off-camera. Everything just bled into it, so it was effortless and brilliant
What attracted you to Lou?
This is just such a beautiful opportunity to play a large part of who I am – the clumsy idiot! She’s clumsy and talks a lot and doesn’t think before any of those sentences come out; wears her heart on her sleeve; couldn’t hide a single thing emotionally that was going through her mind, so she just says it. And there’s something hopefully endearing about that, and so polar opposite to everything she’s thrown into with Will Traynor, played by Sam, and his whole storyline. So, as good love stories should do, she brings out parts of him that he didn’t know, especially in this circumstance in which we find him. And then he brings out a huge part of her that is the springboard for the rest of her life, when the movie ends.
Can you explain why Lou takes on this job, becoming a caregiver to Will Traynor, played by Sam Claflin?
She gets this job because her family needs money and she loses her job at the beginning of the movie, though she loves working at The Buttered Bun. Everything in her life is very happy. It’s very quiet; it’s very small, and she’s content with where her life is. And then she gets this job to be a caregiver, with no skills. Has no idea what she’s walking into. And she just struggles to deal with him. He brings out the strength in her and he brings out the intelligence that’s been hiding under an assortment of clothes and shoes for quite some time.
How did you find working with Sam Claflin?
Just dreamboat: super, super good! I feel like on movie sets, leads either hate each other or love each other – and happily we were in the ‘love each other’ category! He’s a dude. We got on really well. It’s been beautiful.
Director, Thea Sharrock was very definitive that Me Before You is a love story. What did you feel?Yeah, it’s the backbone of the whole story. The story to tell is the story of their love. It defines who they become and defines the choices that they make. Also, if it’s possible for that choice to be heightened, it is – you feel the love and you see the love. That then clears away a path for placing the importance on that choice.
Thea said that she’s never lost an actress more to the costume department during rehearsals. Is that right?
Oh my God! Every single day, for a month, we would have four hours a day of costumes, just trying to figure them all out. I had 70 at one point, but then it got whittled down to 52. We never used the same outfit twice. I loved her wardrobe! She only lives in a little box-room…she can’t fit all those clothes in there. So her shoes, she hung them on the walls with a bit of skirting board. Just boards hammered up. I was so over the moon when I walked into Lou’s room.
Did you get to keep any of the outfits?
I tried! There were hundreds and hundreds…I got given the tights, the bumblebee tights. My amazing hair and make-up lady got some of the leftover fabric of the wedding dress and made me a Lou doll.
Are you a big romantic movie watcher? What are your favourites?
When Harry Met Sally is the ultimate for me, the absolute ultimate – I know it all off by heart! Anything – because of the age that I am – with Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks in it: Sleepless In Seattle, You’ve Got Mail…I love all of those. Then Four Weddings and a Funeral! Yes, big time. Notting Hill. They’re all shameless – proper stay-at-home-on-a-Sunday with a box of Kleenex.
Where do you think Me Before You fits in?
It’s difficult. I brought my best friend to see it, and I remember the credits rolled and she turned round, sobbing, and said, ‘You told me it was a rom-com!’ And she burst into tears. I also was talking to Matt Lewis [who plays Patrick, Lou’s boyfriend], who brought all of his rugby team with him, and he said, ‘Mate, you made twelve grown men cry!’ So many people are like, ‘It’s not a rom-com – it’s too sad to be a rom-com!’ It’s a romantic drama, but it has funny elements in it.
Are you an unashamed romantic?
Er…yeah! I have this theory…it might fall flat. But I watched Cinderella the other day, because my mate Richard (Madden) is in it. And it’s really good! It’s so beautifully done. I was watching it and it just reminded that, as a kid, I grew up watching Disney and you grow up believing in magic, and the happily ever after of it all, and I feel like the essence of all the Disney movies is that they are just folk stories, which people have been saying forever. And as a kid, I truly believed in the magic of it all, and as adults we just find new words for that: yoga, meditation, green juice. We’re all just trying to find magical aspects to elevate the mundane day-to-day life. And I think that movies like this have that little sprinkling. Rom-coms, they make you feel safe. They make you feel like there’s hope. Don’t get me wrong – I loved American History X! I’m an artist who went to drama school and I’m about to do a really dark role, but I do have that unashamed love of romantic comedies. These things just tap into a universal truth. There’s a little bit of you that wants the hope, and wants the optimism and wants the magic. Call it Disney, call it folk stories, call it rom-coms…there’s just something magical about it. And Jojo’s (author/screenwriter Jojo Moyes) book and this movie has that.
Watch the trailer here:
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The film opens in cinemas nationwide on Friday, 8 July.
(Photos: Warner Bros.)
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