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Game of Thrones’ Emilia Clarke on How to Create More Strong Female Characters

2 minute read

It looks like Daenerys Targaryen might finally be ready to vie for the iron throne. As the Game of Thrones character comes into her powers, actress Emilia Clarke is seeking out inspiration from all sorts of world leaders–from Queen Elizabeth I to Donald Trump.

“I’m watching things and reading things and researching and trying to grasp more about her. I watch a lot of things to do with strong female leaders,” she told TIME in a recent interview. “In season one, I got obsessed with Elizabeth, with Cate Blanchett in Elizabeth, and then started to watch Tilda Swinton in everything that she’s ever done.”

“And then just being incredibly observant of where power comes from and how people handle it when they have it. Like Trump’s a hoot for that. Where did that confidence come from? My goodness,” she added. “And then if you look at speeches by leaders in other languages that you don’t speak—because that’s what I do on the show, speak a language I don’t speak—and studying just the delivery of it.”

She always seeks out female leaders in the real world to model Daenerys after, she said, but there are far too few to model the character after, especially in Hollywood where strong female characters are few and far between.

“I have stuff I want to act in and produce, and whenever I’m reading, I’m reading for the strong girl, I’m reading for that role,” she said. “And I’m like, ‘just take the boy, take away the penis and add some tits. There you go. Don’t change much.'”

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Write to Eliana Dockterman at eliana.dockterman@time.com