Game Of Thrones: 9 Actors Who Could've Played Daenerys Targaryen – Screen Rant

Although Game of Thrones fans would not replace Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen, some have wondered what other actors could have played her?
Although House of the Dragon introduced the world to several new Targaryens, only a few of them have managed to be as popular as Game of Thrones' Daenerys. Portrayed by the talented Emilia Clarke, the actor stole the fans' hearts by capturing the Dragon Queens complex personality and heartbreaking tale. It was certainly a role of a lifetime for her as Clarke ended up being nominated for four Primetime Emmy awards.
However, what some fans might not realize is that there had been a few other actors up for the same roles (including Elizabeth Olsen and Tamzin Merchant). While there are a few fans who are curious as to how Olsen and Merchant would have portrayed the character, other fans have begun to think about who else could have been perfect for the role as well.
There are only a few people who have been known to audition for Daenerys Targaryen, and Elizabeth Olsen is one of them. But not getting the role in Game of Thrones played in the actor's favor: later on she joined the MCU family as Wanda Maximoff, and her life hasn't been the same since.
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It’s unclear whether Elizabeth Olsen would've even agreed to portray Daenerys as, according to 2019 interview with the Hollywood Reporter, she found the experience of auditioning for Game of Thrones “awful” and “awkward.” Still, especially after her recent performance as Scarlet Witch in The Multiverse of Madness, fans cannot help but presume that Olsen would pull off a great "Mad Queen" of House Targaryen if given the chance.
English actor Tamzin Merchant has taken part in various periodic projects over the years, such as the iconic 2005 Pride & Prejudice and TV series Salem, but Game of Thrones enthusiasts know Tamzin best as the first actor to have played Daenerys in an infamous test pilot of the show.
It’s not uncommon for such a big TV show to undergo serious changes before airing its first episode. After shooting the pilot for Game of Thrones, neither the creators nor Merchant herself felt the right connection with that version of Dany. The actor revealed in an interview with Entertainment Weekly that, at the end of the day, the story of Mother of Dragons wasn’t the one she was excited to tell.
The khaleesi of periodic dramas, Lily James's career has been rapidly evolving in front of her audience’s eyes. From Disney's Cinderella in 2015 she went on to portray the glamorous and tragic life of Pamela Anderson in the 2022 Hulu series Pam & Tommy.
Looking back at her other roles in Downtown Abbey, War & Peace, or even Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, James has always been clearly drawn to playing complex heroines in historical projects with big sets, elaborate costumes, and important universal messages. Given the opportunity, her bright spirit would've given a lot of passion and sincerity to the character of Daenerys Stormborn.
Game of Thrones fans are still recovering from the tragic, unfair, and sudden season 6 death of Margaery Tyrell (who was portrayed by Natalie Dormer). It’s safe to say that this character was one of the most determined players of the game for the Iron Throne, and almost always held her own against the ruthless Cersei Lannister.
When it comes to a character such as Daenerys Targaryen, an actor should have the ability to appear sweet and merciful as well as strong-willed and powerful. Dormer had to explore a very similar mixture of traits as Margaery of House Tyrell and did it successfully. No doubt she could’ve been a very captivating Mother of Dragons, but fans can only wonder now.
So far, Alicia Vikander has been quite meticulous in selecting her roles as each of them seems incredibly fleshed-out and memorable (whether that is her role as Lara Croft in Tomb Raider, Ava in Ex Machina, or Vera Brittain in Testament of Youth).
Alicia Vikander’s welcoming presence on screen and the ability to master accents would come in particularly handy in portraying the ambitious Daenerys Stormborn that initially strived to save people of all lands from tyranny (a goal that she completely abandoned in season 8). Plus, her athleticism would've been perfect for stunts, such as riding horses or fighting soldiers.
It’s wild to think that just 5-6 years ago, the world could even imagine the future of cinema without Ana de Armas in it. Starring in films like Blade Runner 2049, No Time To Die and Knives Out, De Armas has quickly become a universally beloved performer.
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Just like Daenerys was forced to overcome a lot of obstacles to prove herself a worthy leader (and showing her power among those who don’t trust her), De Armas' characters have also been along a similar vein, meaning she would have been able to capture Daenerys' essence perfectly. She has also proven that she is willing to do her own stunts too (via Cinema Blend), which would have certainly brought an edge to the character.
Slowly but surely Vanessa Kirby is getting the recognition and praise that she’d always deserved. Whether it’s a supportive role in About Time, Hattie Shaw in the Fast & Furious franchise, or a Princess Margaret in The Crown – this actor can do no wrong.
Speaking strictly of appearances, Kirby was clearly born to play at least some political member of the House Targaryen. Moreover, her undeniably strong presence on screen and incredible acting range is already enough evidence as to why her portrayal of the Unburnt Daenerys would be a success.
This Australian actor is well-known for her roles in the TV show A Discovery of Witches, and movies like Warm Bodies, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, and Hacksaw Ridge.
Daenerys is the kind of woman that can’t allow herself to lose control over the situation, so the ability to make subtle changes in facial expressions is crucial, and that is precisely what Teresa Palmer has in her acting arsenal. On top of that, the actor performs each role with such ease and elegance, which would've made the introduction to Danny feel very welcoming and inviting.
Lily Collins embarked on her film career around 2009 and quickly gained the audience’s love through films like Stuck in Love and Rules Don't Apply. However, she has quickly rose to prominence thanks to her lead role in one of the most popular Netflix TV series, Emily in Paris.
Such a diverse career established Collins as an elegant and fierce performer – exactly the characteristics that fans admire in the original portrayal of Daenerys Targaryen. The role of Daenerys would have also allowed Collins to show her acting range some more since she is often seen in more rom-com roles.
Next: The 10 Most Powerful Targaryens In History


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