Emilia Clarke’s bizarre impact on baby names

EMILIASolo is, of course, a film named after one person, the infamous smuggler and all round scoundrel Han Solo.

So it was always inevitable that the movie would to a greater extent focus on the male character at its centre.

But Emilia Clarke was determined to ensure that that didn’t mean that the film’s main female character Qi’ra would end up relegated to simple love interest or two-dimensional best friend territory.

Without going into detailed plot specifics, the filmmakers outlined to Clarke Qi’ra’s individuality, and in broad terms how her story related to the movie’s overall plot.

Something that not only reassured, but delighted the actress about what the Star Wars universe had in store for her.

“Yes, that is definitely true,” says Clarke. “Because with the reintroduction of this franchise, I feel like what Kathy (Kennedy, Lucasfilm President), Disney and Lucasfilm have done is they’ve put women at the front and centre of all of these movies.

“When you’ve got movies of this scale and of this calibre,” she adds, “you want to be showing people who are going to be coming to watch this movie, of all ages, that there is just as much importance placed on all genders”.

‘Shrouded in secrecy’

Becoming part of the 40-year-old saga is something of a dream come true for the British actress. “It’s pretty special, it really is,” she grins.

“Because Star Wars has such an impact on so many people, so it’s more that, it’s the kind of like fairy dust around it. You tell people you’re in a Star Wars movie and they’re like ‘Uh, that’s so cool’.”

In a time of spoiler-hungry fans and intense media interest, Clarke has spent months sitting on the film’s many surprises.

The filming at Pinewood Studios just outside London was heavily controlled to stop details spilling out ahead of time.

“You kind of knew instinctively that you were going into a project that needed to stay very, very quiet. Stickers on camera phones for example,” Clarke reveals.

But even the secrecy surrounding Star Wars has been surpassed by that around the TV series she’s most famous for.

She’s three-quarters of the way through filming the eighth and final series of Game of Thrones.

“The last season of the show is so shrouded in such secrecy that not even the cast knows [how the story will finish]. So I sort of think that has surpassed even Star Wars top secret-ness, if that’s a word?”

Game of Thrones where she plays one of the figures aspiring to the throne of the fictional world of Westeros has made her face known around the world. It’s not unusual for fans not just to approach her in public, but to also shout out her character’s names.

“Yeah, that happens a fair amount,” she admits. “I get that in airports quite a lot, I think it’s because people are landing at different time zones, so like drinking can happen at any point of the day.

“I get a lot of yeah [mock drawls] ‘Khaleesi’, and kind of chanting, and sort of lots of heckles namely, and it’s quite funny, because it’s like when you’re in a playground and you turn around and say ‘Hi guys’ and they’re like ‘Um nothing’.”

It’s not just Emilia being called that in public. According to the Office of National Statistics, last year in England and Wales 69 children were given the name Khaleesi (that’s more than ended up being called Helen).

“It’s mad,” she laughs. “I mean what are you going to call her for short. I mean really think about it. It’s quite a mouthful to be able to say that name!”

A few girls are also being called Daenerys (another of the names of Clarke’s Game of Thrones character).

“I sort of, I get that maybe slightly more,” she acknowledges. “But Khaleesi is such a, you know I’d better continue to be doing well on that, otherwise there’s a whole lot of kids who are going to be like, you really messed us up with this one!”

The reviews for Solo have been overwhelmingly positive.

“A complete relief, genuinely a complete relief” is Clarke’s reaction. And with the film set to be one of the year’s biggest box office hits, it should introduce Emilia Clarke to a whole new set of fans.

“It’s astonishing how many names I answer to now,” she confesses. “Like there’s quite a few, that really, any number of them and I’ll, you’ll get my attention from it. So it’ll be fun to add Qi’ra to that list.”

BBC


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