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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USA TODAY – Love hurts — and not just emotionally. Clarke fractured her hip midway through the shoot. That made the film’s tear-jerking climax even more difficult, as Lou dances on the beach before Will makes a startling confession. “It was super-hard anyway, from an acting point of view, because it was the most raw that we get. Then I was in so much pain,” Clarke says. Even sitting on Claflin’s lap was an almost-Olympian feat. “They had to build a little obstacle course for me,” she says. “They got all these boxes and tried to move them so I could look like I was getting on” his chair.
One wacky wardrobe. One of Lou’s defining traits is her outrageous fashion, which Will lovingly describes as that of a “leprechaun drag queen.” Of the heart-printed blouses, butterfly hairpieces and bumblebee tights, Clarke says her least-favorite items were a striped sweater and linen trousers, which Lou wears when she grudgingly watches a movie with Will. “We’ve had a fight, so I’m kind of like, ‘Whatever, dude, I’m going to wear the most normal stuff I can find,’ ” Clarke says. “Obviously, I look mental, still.” As for what she kept: “I’ve got the tights!”
“Sam stole my doll!” Clarke pulled all kinds of pranks on Claflin, including putting fish in his socks. But the most elaborate may have been when she “framed” him for stealing a doll of her Game of Thrones character, Daenerys. “I was like, ‘What? I’ve never seen your doll,’ ” Claflin says. “She put it in my bag (when) I got in the car to go home. The next morning, there were posters all over saying, ‘Wanted: Doll Thief,’ with my image.”
She had Snow idea. Like the rest of us, Claflin is a “huge” Game of Thrones fan. “I basically kept asking, ‘Want to give me some spoilers?‘ ” he says. The actor was particularly curious about the fate of Jon Snow (Kit Harington), although the Mother of Dragons says even she was in the dark: “Kit hadn’t fessed up to me yet.”
The release date for “Me Before You” has been pushed forward to March 4, 2016!
Warner Bros. and MGM have moved drama “Me Before You” forward by three months to March 4, 2016, from June 3.
The movie stars “Game of Thrones” actress Emilia Clarke and “Hunger Games” actor Sam Claflin. Thea Sharrock is directing from a script by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, based on the Jojo Moyes novel about a woman in a small town who forms an unlikely bond with a recently paralyzed man.
Clarke played Sarah Connor in “Terminator: Genisys.” Claflin stars in “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2.”
“Me Before You” is the fourth major title set for March 4, following Paramount’s recent move to select that release date for its untitled Tina Fey war comedy, based on Kim Barker’s memoir “The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan.” Also opening on that date are Gramercy’s “London Has Fallen” and Disney’s “Zootopia.”