Tamzin Merchant As Khaleesi In The Pilot
As one of the the most beloved shows in decades, the original 2009 pilot of Game of Thrones didn't impress executives. Creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss were given another chance to make things better, which, clearly they did. That included recasting key characters, including making Emilia Clarke to replace Tamzin Merchant as the new Mother of Dragons.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Tamzin Merchant admitted that she wasn't excited to play Daenerys Targaryen, the character Emilia would go on to play for eight seasons after the series reshot the original pilot. Tamzin called the experience a "really great lesson":
"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," she explained. "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."
Elizabeth Olsen Auditioned to Play Khaleesi
Before she was the Marvel Cinematic Universe's Wanda Maximoff, Elizabeth Olsen scored an audition for Game of Thrones. The audition in question was for the character of Daenerys Targaryen. As Olsen herself puts it, her try out for the role was nothing more than "awful."
Olsen opened up on the situation back in 2019, saying she almost stopped the audition herself because of how awkward it was.
"It was for Khaleesi——she was just burned alive and then I start making this huge speech," Olsen said at the time. "I was in the smallest room with the casting director, they didn't even have a reader, and that was the furthest I ever got. It was that bad. It was horrible. I was like, 'This is uncomfortable for me, I'm sure it's awkward for her, no one's going to enjoy this experience.'"
Coincidentally enough, Clarke had been cast in Marvel's Secret Invasion, so both she and Olsen were working in the same franchise.
Sam Claflin as Viserys Targaryen and Jon Snow
Interestingly, another actor, Sam Claflin, who worked with Emilia Clarke in Me Before You, said two roles were almost his: Jon Snow and Viserys Targaryen... but he doesn't mind that he lost out. "I like getting into things like that [as a viewer] and not being a part, because I always find it's very jarring if I was part of it," he told Cinema Blend. "But I'm a big fan."