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Game of Thrones: OG Daenerys Tamzin Merchant on Scrapped GOT Pilot

Just as much as Peter Jackson helped shaped high fantasy with his Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss shaped television adaptation George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire novels to what came to be HBO's Game of Thrones. Its humble beginnings from its scrapped pilot were just as controversial as its season eight epic ending. Originally cast in Emilia Clarke's role as Daenerys Targaryen, the heroine-turned-big-bad by the series' final episode, was Tamzin Merchant. The Carnival Row star talked to James Hibberd, author of the behind-the-scenes book "Fire Cannot Kill a Dragon", for Entertainment Weekly about what she learned her time filming.

Game of Thrones OG Daenarys, Tamzin Merchant Reflects Filming Pilot
Credit: Tinseltown / & HBO

"Shooting that pilot was a really great lesson," Merchant said. "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 actress referred to Daenerys's wedding with Khal Drogo (Jason Mamoa) that was quite different than what was shot with Clarke.

"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," Merchant continued. "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." For more on how Merchant felt about what could have been, the feelings internally from HBO why the actress didn't work, and how she's grateful how her career shaped out anyway, you can head to EW.

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Tom ChangAbout Tom Chang

I'm a follower of pop culture from gaming, comics, sci-fi, fantasy, film, and TV for over 30 years. I grew up reading magazines like Starlog, Mad, and Fangoria. As a writer for over 10 years, Star Wars was the first sci-fi franchise I fell in love with. I'm a nerd-of-all-trades.
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