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cover story:

emilia
clarke

The British actress on meeting Hollywood royalty, getting into character, and how to take a proper bath.

Photography By NAJ JAMAÏ

Written By CHRISTINE WHITNEY

Styled By PETRA FLANNERY

Makeup By LOTTIE

Hair By MARA ROSZAK 

Nails By ASHLIE JOHNSON

The Violet Eye
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FASHION CREDITS

Mathieu Mirano Dress

David Webb Earring 

LOUIS VUITTON RING 

Emilia Clarke has been crying. The 29-year-old actress just said goodbye to her best friend, who had been visiting for the past month. “There were tears,” she says. “Two crying girls.” Indeed, friends and family are everything to Clarke. While she’s known for enjoying the company of dragons in her icon-making role on HBO’s megahit Game of Thrones, in real life the people close to the actress are “what makes me feel powerful,” she asserts.

Clarke splits her time between Los Angeles (she has a house in Venice) and London, which she considers home. But “ninety percent of the time I live out of a suitcase,” she says. In the wake of the season-six Thrones premiere [when VIOLET GREY met the actress], the suitcase is coming out, as Clarke heads off to Washington, D.C., for the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. She is then flying to Kentucky to start work on what she calls her most demanding role to date, in the film adaptation of Joe Sharkey’s true-crime book Above Suspicion. “It’s an amazing, dark, dark drama—Phillip Noyce is directing. I get to play a drug addict—it is really gritty and I cannot wait!” she says with great zest. “It’s so incredibly outside my experience, and takes on a real story,” she explains of the role’s challenges. “When you take a piece of material that is already loved out of people’s imaginations and put it on screen, you know you’re going to make some people happy and some people unhappy.”

In preparation, she’s taking a deep dive into all things Southern, studying reference materials like history books and the documentary The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia (“It gives you a real insight,” she enthuses). The already lively Clarke becomes even more animated when discussing her craft: “Everyone’s got a reason for being the way they are, making the choices they make,” she says of her technique. “And if you can tap into those reasons, you can give a fully realized performance that’s lived instead of just being a job.” 

I’m on the cusp of Libra and Scorpio—it means I am completely certain about being on the fence.

—EMILIA CLARKE

The Violet Eye
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Aside from going Southern (yes, she will do an accent in the film), she’ll also be promoting the romantic drama Me Before You, which hits theaters in June. In it, Clarke plays the caregiver and loudly dressed love interest of a paralyzed man (Hunger Games veteran Sam Claflin; Charles Dance, a.k.a. the late Tywin Lannister on GOT, appears as his father).

But before tackling her packing list, Clarke paid a visit to the legendary Beverly Hills estate of the even more legendary movie producer Robert Evans of Godfather and Love Story fame. The oft-photographed property (both Slim and Helmut might as well have opened studios in the pool house) was the backdrop for the British starlet’s cover shoot with The Violet Files, in which she channeled a lady of the manor the morning after a raucous fête. Stylist Petra Flannery was on hand to provide racks upon racks of sequins, gold lamé, and enough diamonds to keep two armed guards on high alert in Mr. Evans’ manicured backyard.

The Decadent Bronze Eye
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While the persona was decidedly un-Emilia (“A wild night for me is just staying up late with my friends,” she says), the consummate professional turned on the charm for VIOLET GREY founder (and the shoot’s creative director) Cassandra Huysentruyt Grey and photographer Naj Jamaï’s every snap. “You have to imagine yourself in this kind of drunken state,” Clarke explains of the on-set character that inspired her to go topless on Evans’ tennis court. “Like it’s 2 a.m. and everyone has left the party and you’re still there, and there’s this haze that kind of fills you and fills the space.” She was aided by some dangerous-looking heels and ultra-long false fingernails befitting a lady of leisure. (What might the owner of such nails do all day? “Absolutely nothing!” muses Clarke, who keeps hers very short. “I imagine she doesn’t lift a finger, even to use the bathroom.”)

Below, the actress speaks to The Violet Files about her own beauty routine (she’s dedicated to the art of bathing), meeting Mr. Evans (“He assured me it wouldn’t be my last time in that house”), and always seeing the perfume bottle (Le Labo Santal 33, in her case) as half full.

violet
inquires

an intimate conversation with emilia clarke

What was it like meeting Robert Evans?

He was quite the charmer. He assured me it wasn’t the last time I would be in that house.

You play a famously blond character on Game of Thrones and you are a brunette in real life. Have you ever colored your hair?

No, apart from one interesting episode at age 14 where I thought I would add in some redder highlights and make it richer. Instead of getting a richer brown I just turned my hair red. I wouldn’t do that again.

What movies have you loved lately?

45 Years was one of the most exceptional films that I’ve seen in a long time. Charlotte Rampling is a legend in her own right, and that movie was incredible! That’s my pick from the awards season. I also watched The Martian and I loved it!

What is your best tip for getting into character?

Find out how the character walks. You know what shoes she’s wearing—the way you hold yourself in heels is very different from the way you hold yourself in Crocs.

What would you change about Hollywood?

I would have people walk a bit more and get out of their cars. And I would enjoy seeing less emphasis on image and more on good work and artistic merit. And I would have equal pay!

What inspires you?

Living as much as I can. Actors I admire, different people, different environments, cultures, books, movies, music, whatever it might be.

Having three hours to take a BATH is like finding a leprechaun at the end of the rainbow.

— emilia clarke

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In what way do other actors inspire you?

I love it when you go out and see good stuff, good movies, good plays. It makes you go, “I want to do that!” You see a play and it’s like, “I want to get up on stage! I want to do it with them! I want to be a part of it!”

Who’s your favorite theater-going partner?

When I’m in England, I love to go to plays by myself. It sounds really sad, but theater is so immediate, and I get so affected by it. When you’re on your own, it hits you much more prominently.

Your mom used to do your makeup for dances and events when you were in high school—what was the most important thing she taught you?

How to do no-makeup makeup. Now, if I’m going out with my mates, I will do their makeup and teach them. I also help them put on red lipstick, which I always encourage people to wear. The key is finding the right shade for you.

What’s your shade?

Bright.

The Violet Eye
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Makeup skill you have yet to master?

A smoky eye.

Your favorite feature?

I’m proud to say I’ve never had braces; my top teeth are just naturally straight.

What’s the significance of the tattoo on your finger?

It’s a bumblebee, which is symbolic to my character in Me Before You. I had the best time working on the film and I wanted to remember it forever.

Favorite cocktail?

A vodka martini straight up, with a twist. Like James Bond.

Hangover recovery secret?

Sleep, sleep, and a lot more sleep. And then some sugar.

What’s your astrological sign?

I’m on the cusp of Libra and Scorpio—it means I am completely certain about being on the fence.

You’re a confirmed bath enthusiast—what’s your bathtime routine?

Bathtime is a ritual! You’ve got to get the right temperature, you must have good bath salts or Epsom salts and dissolve them properly, and you need bath oils to get some scents going. I don’t do bubble bath—it makes me feel too much like a kid. I have to soak for at least half an hour. If I had time I could be in that bath for three hours, although me having three hours to take a bath is like finding a leprechaun at the end of the rainbow.

Favorite LA activity?

Walking and getting coffee on Abbot Kinney. Venice is the only place in LA where you can happily walk without people thinking you’re crazy.

Coffee order: cream or sugar?

I take my coffee with nut milk, and made by a handsome bearded man.

What do you like most about yourself?

That given half the chance, I will see the lighter, funnier side of a situation.

THE VIOLET
EYE

Makeup artist Lottie breaks down Emilia Clarke’s lush-lidded look.

THE DECADENT
BRONZE EYE

Makeup artist Lottie explains how to re-create Emilia’s party-ready beauty

behind the
scenes

See Emilia Clarke in the makeup chair on location with The Violet Files.