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Emilia Clarke, Sam Claflin grapple with love, life in ‘Me Before You’

USA TODAY – NEW YORK — To fans of HBO’s Game of Thrones, Emilia Clarke is Daenerys Targaryen, a shrewd, dragon-wielding conqueror and one of TV’s fiercest heroines.

So when Me Before You director Thea Sharrock suggested she play Louisa Clark — a spunky, idealistic young woman who takes a job caring for a wealthy, wheelchair-bound quadriplegic (Sam Claflin) — screenwriter Jojo Moyes was understandably puzzled.

I couldn’t see it,” says Moyes, who adapted her 2012 romantic novel for the big screen (in theaters Friday). “She was, for me, irrevocably linked to long, blond hair and dragons and looking very stern. But the moment you actually see her without the (Thrones) wig, she’s so warm and bubbly, and actually has the physical look of Louisa. It really took no time at all.”

Playing someone who shares her optimistic outlook and humor was part of the appeal to Clarke, who calls Louisa (nicknamed “Lou”) a “more innocent version” of herself.

Reading the book for the first time, “I was in love by page 3,” says Clarke, 29, teasing and laughing with her Me Before You co-star throughout an arduous day of interviews. “Lou felt like such a perfect extension of me. I just understood her, and it was that understanding that brought my excitement.”

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