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Last October on the set of Game of Thrones, we spoke to the HBO hit’s Emmy-nominated star Emilia Clarke about season 6. It was just a few hours before she was to be named Esquire‘s Sexiest Woman Alive, and what’s striking about Clarke is that her coolest trait is actually one that fans of Daenerys the Unburnt have probably never seen: her lightning-quick, super-smart, disarmingly goofy sense of humor (she famously performed the Funky Chicken during the most important audition of her life when she read for Thrones). Below the actress (who most recently played Sarah Connor in Terminator: Genisys) has her wit in high gear as she teases Daenerys’ latest adventures — and along the way casually delivered a crushing retort to critics of Thrones‘ female storylines.

So when we last saw Dany, she’s being captured by the Dothraki after riding off on Drogon…

It was lovely because you got that sweet-and-sour of riding off into the distance at last — and then it’s like: “Where the f— am I?” This season it feels like she’s learning the last lesson she needs to learn. She’s not being swayed by anyone. She knows what’s-what. There’s just few remnants of being a human being that she’s shaking off.

And you’re back with the Dothraki for the first time since season 2…

This is not the khalasar that she conquered. She knows all too well that getting on the wrong side of the Dothraki is not what you want to be doing. But on the same breath she’s kind of a Dothraki at heart because that’s where she learned her strength. Not just that she’s fireproof and gave birth to dragons, but her strength as a woman.

And there’s no Khal Drogo [Jason Momoa] to protect her this time…

[Throwing out Dany’s titles] Mother of Dragons? Nothing. Breaker of Chains? Nothing. Khalessi of the Great Grass Sea? Nothing. Wife of Kahl Drogo? “Maybe we won’t kill you.” We’ve all met Jason Momoa, so that makes sense.

At least you’re out of the pyramid and back in action…

Yes, back to square one, feeling like a slave — simply for being a woman!

Thrones sexism,” jeez…

Thrones<emthrones sexism,” dammit! Right there back to fighting to show the Dothraki I’m more than my appearances.</emthrones

Speaking of, there are those criticisms, which I know frustrate the Thrones team given there are arguably more strong female characters on this show than any on TV, and each character is so unique…

There’s so much controversy. Yet that’s what’s beautiful about Game of Thrones — it’s depiction of women in so many different stages of development. There are women depicted as sexual tools, women who have zero rights, women who are queens but only to a man, and then there are women who are literally unstoppable and as powerful as you can possibly imagine. So it pains me to hear people taking Thrones out of context with anti-feminist spin — because you can’t do that about this show. It shows the range that happens to women, and ultimately shows women are not only equal, but have a lot of strength.

I like how you took to Instagram awhile back to correct a quote from a party reporter who falsely claimed you said you “can’t stand” sex scenes.

It’s difficult to be misquoted and it’s nice to have something like Instagram to say the truth. How many times has [Daario actor Michiel Huisman] been asked about the fact he’s taken his clothes off a bunch? Is that even a discussion? No.

I was actually checking Google News for stories about you before our interview, I was seeing headlines that I know for a fact are not true. That must be so weird to see stories about yourself that are inaccurate all the time.

I don’t even look.

But you must hear.

Sometimes I hear. I read interview where an actor said, “If you ever hear an actor say they don’t Google themselves, they’re lying.” Well, I don’t Google myself! One minute I’m engaged to James Franco, the next I’m in a love triangle with my best friend and my gay best friend. You’re like “pfffff!” none of this is true.

At least when you’re hanging with the Dothraki, they tell it like it is.

It’s like coming home, or like going back to your college reunion: “Yes, I’ve lost 20 pounds, so come with me … if you want to live!”

Oh boy…

I can’t help it!

For more Thrones scoop, Entertainment Weekly is going behind the scenes of season 6 with an exclusive report from the show’s set in Spain and Northern Ireland, plus we have profiles of several stars from the show — your copy of our big Thrones issue by going here now. EW has tons of online Thrones coverage planned, too — exclusive news, cast interviews, recaps, and more (without spoiling any of the significant twists to come). Follow @jameshibberd for ongoing GoT scoop, subscribe to our Thrones email newsletter, and bookmark our GoT headlines and recaps hub. Thrones returns to HBO on April 24.

Episode Recaps

Game of Thrones

HBO's epic fantasy drama based on George R.R. Martin's novel series A Song of Ice and Fire.

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