[The following contains spoilers for Game of Thrones' series finale]
Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke revealed that she watched notorious Nazi leader Adolf Hitler's speeches to help her prepare for one of Daenerys' big scenes in Sunday's series finale. After eight seasons winning Emmys and racking up record ratings for HBO, Game of Thrones finally reached its epic conclusion on Sunday night. Like much of the rest of season 8, the finale came in for a lot of criticism from fans and reviewers alike, and at least one scientific poll determined almost half of the show's audience was disappointed by how it wrapped up.
Of the most prominent issues bothering fans after the finale, none caused more backlash than the shocking death of Daenerys Targaryen, who was about to claim the Iron Throne when her lover Jon Snow decided to end her reign of terror with a knife thrust. Of course, fans were already upset about the show's treatment of Daenerys even before the finale, as the penultimate episode saw her turning into the Mad Queen and using her dragon Drogon to lay waste to King's Landing. Showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss tried to calm fan concerns heading into the finale by explaining Daenerys' actions as a sudden outburst of anger after a series of devastating betrayals and deaths, but many did not buy the justification.
For her part, actress Emilia Clarke did not shy away from portraying the dark turn of Daenerys' character, and indeed seemed to lean into the whole idea of Dany becoming a brutal dictator. In fact, as Clarke revealed in an interview with Variety, she even consulted a horrible real life dictator in order to make her performance more believable. For the finale, Dany was called upon to give a rousing victory speech to her assembled soldiers in both Dothraki and Valyrian, and as part of her preparation Clarke watched footage of Adolf Hitler and others in order to learn how to drive the moment home. Clarke said:
"In giving all these speeches in fake languages, I watched a lot of videos of — now it seems funny — dictators and powerful leaders speaking a different language to see if I could understand what they were saying without knowing the language. And you can! You absolutely can understand what Hitler’s f—ing saying, these single-focus orators speaking a foreign language. So I thought, “If I can believe every single word I’m saying, the audience won’t need to be looking at the subtitles too much.”
Indeed, Dany's speech is a chilling moment in the show, as she makes it clear she has no intention of stopping her warring ways just because she's put down the tyrannical Cersei and destroyed her army. In fact, Dany is so crazed that Jon Snow decides he must take it upon himself to stop her, because if he doesn't she will simply continue murdering innocent people. Given the bloodthirsty frenzy of the moment, it makes perfect sense for Clarke to turn to Hitler as an example of how to cast a spell over the audience, as the Nazi leader is still known as one of history's most mesmerizing orators.
Whatever Daenerys fans may think of her ultimate turn to the dark side, there's no question the development led to some powerful drama in the final few episodes. Of course, the argument can be made that after all she suffered throughout the course of the series, Daenerys was entitled to a little happiness in the end as well, and was cheated by being given such a tragic fate. Either way, Game of Thrones is in the books now, even if there are some out there who are calling for a do-over.