Just a few hours before hitting the red carpet in Cannes for the premiere of “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” London-born actress Emilia Clarke sat down to speak about the debut of the blockbuster movie and the ongoing shifts in the film industry.
“Some things I had to fight for, but the team was generally very generous in terms of collaborating to create the character,” said Clarke, who plays the role of Qi’ra in the movie, the mysterious partner in crime of Han Solo. “I put in a lot of research to determine my character, there’s so much material if you want to dig in.”
Clarke also addressed the director shake-up during the filming of the movie, which shifted to Ron Howard halfway through production. “Ron took us from a kind of ‘What are we doing’ phase to a place of such ease and comfort and fun,” she added.
In addition to the film, Clarke is in the midst of filming the final episodes of “Game of Thrones,” a career-defining project for the young actress who became loved for her role as Daenerys Targaryen in the HBO series.
“It’s like preparing to leave home. It’s exciting yet sad and scary. It’s been my entire life, my entire Twenties, my everything,” said Clarke, admitting that she is yet to know how the series will end. “No one really wants to know, people are always like ‘Tell me, but don’t tell me.’ It will certainly be what none of us expect it to be.”
Outside of her ongoing movie projects, Clarke is also dipping her toes in screenwriting and plans to start her own production company in a bid to “tell really good stories.”
“It’s going to be something that I found, that I’ll choose how to shape and put all my creative juices behind,” she said, highlighting the importance of making smart business decisions as a young, self-employed actress, particularly at a time when the role of female creatives in the industry is radically shifting.
A self-proclaimed feminist and supporter of the #MeToo movement, Clarke quickly turned the conversation to the ongoing issue, talking of the importance of maintaining its momentum.
“I keep getting questions as to whether #MeToo is dying down. The issue is that it reached a fever pitch that is absolutely unsustainable, in terms of how soundbite-y it is. But we must remember that the movement is working harder than ever and we continue to put gentle pressure on the industry,” Clarke said. “This has been a problem that has been around forever, so we can’t solve it overnight. [The movement] is here to stay.”
She pointed to education, the imposing of contractual obligations in terms of equality in the workplace and certain quotas regarding the representation of female directors in key competitions, as important next steps to take.
The language used to describe female roles is another area that needs revision, according to Clarke, who seems to have had enough of being asked about portraying “strong women” in her films.
“I’m playing a woman. Why call her strong? Is there even another option for a female lead? Find another adjective damn it,” the young actress said.
Ditto when it comes to being asked about her clothing choices on the red carpet: “Fashion is OK. We are on the red carpet and someone has lent me a dress, so it’s fine for me to say who I’m wearing. But ask some dudes what they are wearing, too. If you’re only asking women, it’s like we’re just show ponies.”