The co-creator of Game of Thrones revealed how Emilia Clarke nearly missed out on her starring role in HBO’s fantasy epic as the actress won an artist of the year award.
Clarke, alongside Cate Blanchett, Damian Lewis, Jim Carrey, Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige and and 12 Years A Slave director Steve McQueen, was recognised at the 2018 British Academy Britannia Awards in Los Angeles on Friday.
Introducing Clarke, DB Weiss told the star-studded audience he and Thrones co-creator David Benioff were wowed by her initial audition as Daenerys Targaryen but still had to convince HBO they had the right person for the role.
He said: “After the initial pilot we had shown them their faith (HBO’s) in our opinions was less than complete. So Emilia flew out to LA for a final audition in HBO’s corporate theatre which was large, dimly lit and empty, except from us two and the president of HBO.
“We were smiling, he was not. It was quite possibly the least inviting audition environment we had ever witnessed and none of it mattered, she nailed that audition too. Still, the president of the company was playing it close to his chest, nodded, poker face, Emilia asked if there was anything else she could do to lighten the mood.
“David asked, ‘Can you dance?’ And Emilia did the robot. She did it with commitment, she did it well, maybe she will do it later for you if you ask her nicely.
“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 a cruel and unusual punishment.”
Benioff added: “From her first day of shooting in 2010 to her last day nine years later and all the days in between, she has represented the very best of the UK’s film and TV talent and that is why she is receiving the Britannia award.”
Host for the evening Jack Whitehall introduced the award recipients at the beginning of the ceremony.
Blanchett was picking up the Stanley Kubrick Britannia Award for Excellence in Film prize, Lewis was recognised with the Britannia Award for Excellence in Television and Carrey the Charlie Chaplin Britannia Award for Excellence in Comedy.
Feige received the Albert R. Broccoli Britannia Award for Worldwide Contribution to Entertainment while McQueen scooped the John Schlesinger Britannia Award for Excellence in Directing.
Comedian Whitehall joked about Brexit while introducing Marvel Studios president Feige.
Whitehall said: “I know you already have Captain America I would like pitch to you tonight a British version, inspired by the shit show that is going on in our country right now.
“Here is the pitch. Is it a bird, is it a plane, dunno? No-one knows what is anymore. Coming to a cinema in March or possibly never at all, it’s Captain Brexit.
“Just don’t ask what the budget is, nobody knows.”
The British Academy Britannia Awards is Bafta’s biggest event outside of the UK.