It's been four years since Emilia Clarke said goodbye to her iconic role as Daenerys Targaryen in Game Of Thrones, and while some might want to take a break after the way that ended, the British actress says she simply couldn't resist the chance to dive into another mega-franchise with Marvel's Secret Invasion.
"Marvel is the top of the tree," Clarke recently told Narcity ahead of Secret Invasion's release on Disney+. "They're the best at what they do."
Narcity sat down with Clarke and her co-star, Ben Mendelsohn, to talk about her decision to join the MCU, which is the latest addition to her long list of major franchises in pop culture. Clarke is of course best known as the Khaleesi and Mother of Dragons from GoT, but she also starred in Terminator: Genisys (2015) and more recently in Solo: A Star Wars Story.
Audiences can now catch her in the Disney+ miniseries Secret Invasion, a spy thriller focused on Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and his efforts to root out a conspiracy involving the shape-shifting alien Skrulls. The scaly aliens can quickly change shape to look like anyone, making that whole "trust no one" idea even more true in this case.
Clarke plays the Skrull agent G'iah in the show, and she's much more guarded and hard to read than she ever was as the bold and regal Daenerys in Game Of Thrones. In fact, G'iah is closer to Clarke's Star Wars character, Qi'ra, in being a morally grey person whom you can't fully trust.
You can see why she might not want to play a queen again, especially since her role as Daenerys will follow her around for the rest of her life.
Some actors might choose to do smaller productions or step away altogether after playing such a big character. Canadian Hayden Christensen, for instance, walked away from Hollywood for a while after playing Anakin Skywalker in the Star Wars prequels, and he waited over a decade before returning in last year's Obi-Wan Kenobi.
On the other hand, several of Clarke's GoT co-stars have already made the jump over to Marvel, including Peter Dinklage (Avengers: Infinity War) and both Kit Harington and Richard Madden (Eternals).
So what keeps bringing Clarke back to these mega-franchises — and back into the intense spotlight of global fandom?
"I mean, when you say it like that I sound like an absolute lunatic and a slight narcissist!" she told Narcity while laughing at the idea. "Like 'I need to find attention!'"
OK, so it's not the attention. Instead, it might be a deep-seated desire to push herself toward new challenges. Clarke has described herself as an "achievement junkie" in the past, and it's certainly a big win to appear in Game Of Thrones, Star Wars and Marvel within a five-year span.
"It was an undeniable cast with an undeniable logline," Clarke told Narcity. "I was presented with 'This is going to be Marvel's most grounded show. An espionage thriller (with) Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Olivia Colman, Don Cheadle. You're like, 'Yeah yeah yeah.' I said yes in like, five seconds. It was sort of a no-brainer."
Mendelsohn himself is no stranger to the pressure and attention of being in a Marvel movie. Secret Invasion is his second turn as the Skrull leader Talos, whom he first played in the 2019 film Captain Marvel. Mendelsohn has also played villains in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and The Dark Knight Rises, so he's already well-versed in what to expect from a project like Secret Invasion.
In fact, the actor didn't miss a beat when asked about online fans who are already "shipping" Talos and Nick Fury as a secret couple in Secret Invasion.
"I've heard the rumours," Mendelsohn told Narcity. "And the thing about it is [...] I'm a consenting, of-age Skrull."
"You can do what you want!" Clarke added.
"We have this friendship that the sands of time cannot erase," Mendelsohn continued, before going on to roast Thanos, the Avengers baddie who snapped half the universe out of existence.
"The world's changed. Do we really need to hold onto this type of policing and whatnot?" he added. "And listen, [fans] can wonder all day or night. The best thing about it is that they love it, man. They love it. They're mad for it!"
We can confirm that Fury and Talos don't hook up in the first two episodes of Secret Invasion, but who knows what the future will bring?
In the meantime, you can catch Mendelsohn and Clarke as the father-daughter pair of Talos and G'iah in Secret Invasion, which debuts on Disney+ on June 21.