Guernsey Press

Emilia Clarke: I thought I would be fired because of my brain injury

The star had a life-threatening brain bleed in 2011.


Actress Emilia Clarke has described how she thought she was going to be fired from Game of Thrones after she had a brain injury.

The 37-year-old said that after a person survives a brain injury their workplace insecurities “quadruple overnight”.

She said she thought she was going to be sacked from her starring role in the hit fantasy series because she was scared that show bosses would think she was not capable of doing her job.

Emilia Clarke’s charity SameYou has partnered with the Big Issue to help people with brain injuries return to work (Big Issue/PA)

She has said she did not want to go public about her brain injury, and largely kept it a secret from her Game Of Thrones colleagues.

Medics discovered a second brain haemorrhage in 2013 – while she was still acting as Daenerys Targaryen on the hit series.

In a new interview with the Big Issue, she has discussed the difficulties in returning to work after a brain injury.

“When you have a brain injury, because it alters your sense of self on such a dramatic level, all of the insecurities you have going into the workplace quadruple overnight,” Clarke said.

“The first fear we all had was: ‘Oh my God, am I going to get fired? Am I going to get fired because they think I’m not capable of completing the job?’”

After recovering from her injuries, Clarke and her mother Jenny set up a charity to help people with brain injuries. The mother and daughter duo were made MBEs earlier this year for their work setting up the charity SameYou.

Clarke previously told the PA news agency about how she felt “fragile, sensitive and scared” after her brain injury and was shocked to find out how understaffed rehabilitation services are – with rehab becoming a key focus for the charity.

SameYou has now partnered with the Big Issue to help brain injury survivors return to work with the support of Big Issue Recruit Job Coaches.

A new survey of 327 brain injury survivors found that of 189 survivors who have returned to work post injury, 37% said they did not feel ready to return to their jobs.

Half (53%) of those who returned to work had to do so because of financial reasons and around a quarter (27%) said they felt pressure from their employer to return to work.

Emilia Clarke at Windsor Castle
Emilia Clarke was made MBE for her work helping people with brain injuries through her charity SameYou (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Half (50%) of those who returned to work had to make adjustments because of their brain injury including changes to their hours, their role or even their employer and 61% said they would have benefitted from a job coach to ease their return to work.

Big Issue Recruit supports people who face barriers to work with finding sustainable employment and it is hoped that the new partnership will expand this support to brain injury survivors and their carers.

Clarke’s mother, Jenny Clarke, chief executive and co-founder of SameYou, said: “This research clearly highlights the many complex challenges that people who have experienced a brain injury face when going back to work.

“Survivors have reported pressures to return before they are ready, as well as problems with financial difficulties, benefits and even an increased risk of homelessness.

“We’re proud to be partnering with Big Issue Recruit, supporting brain injury survivors and their carers, with their return to work by building their confidence and finding the right employment pathways for them.”

New Year Honours list 2024
Emilia and Jenny Clarke set up the charity SameYou to support people who have had brain injuries (Aaron Chown/PA)

“We are pleased to extend the work of Big Issue Recruit, to a wider group of people who face barriers to work – brain injury survivors and carers of people who have experienced a brain injury. These are often a forgotten group of people in society.

“By partnering with SameYou, our ambition is not only to highlight the challenges that brain injury survivors encounter in returning to work or finding a new role, but also to work together to bolster the support we offer candidates by adding a Job Coach to the Big Issue Recruit team to specialise in this area of need.”

Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.