Emilia Clarke will replace Tamzin Merchant in the role of Daenerys Targaryen on HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” according to The Chicago Tribune.
A recent graduate of Drama Centre London, Clarke has acted on stage since 2008 and has played a role on the BBC series “Doctors.”
Merchant had starred as Daenerys — an exiled princess from an ancient dynasty linked to dragons — in the pilot for “Game of Thrones,” which was completed in November. However, HBO announced in April that it would seek another actress for the role. Portions of the pilot will be reshot to include Clarke.
“Game of Thrones” marks HBO’s first venture into epic fantasy; it’s expected to have a strong adult tone, reminiscent of the network’s acclaimed series “Deadwood” and “Rome.” Based on author George R.R. Martins bestselling A Song of Ice and Fire novels, the series will chronicle a treacherous clash between royal families to secure ultimate power of the vast lands of Westeros.
Production on a 10-episode season is scheduled to start in Northern Ireland in July. The series will debut next spring, and if renewed, Season 2 would cover the events of Martin’s second novel, “A Clash of Kings.”
“I haven’t had the chance to meet Emilia yet, but I’ve seen her auditions,” Martin said in a LiveJournal post Friday. “She gave some kickass readings, winning out over some amazing competition from all around the world. She should make a great Dany.”
Casting continues for Season 1’s supporting characters. Already aboard the series are Sean Bean (“The Lord of the Rings”), as Eddard “Ned” Stark; Lena Headey (“Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles,” “300”), as queen Cersei Lannister; Peter Dinklage (“Threshold”) as her cunning dwarf brother Tyrion; Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (“New Amsterdam”) as her twin, Jaime; and Mark Addy as King Robert Baratheon.
Merchant’s departure isn’t the first “Game of Thrones” casting change ordered after the pilot. Actress Michelle Fairley will replace Jennifer Ehle in the role of Eddard’s wife, Catelyn.