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5 Game Of Thrones Actors Who Criticized The Show's Nude Scenes

This article contains discussions of sexual assault.

When people think about HBO's massive commercial and critical juggernaut "Game of Thrones," which ran from 2011 to 2019, they probably associate it with nudity. That's not a dig at the show; it's simply true. Right from the start, "Game of Thrones" took full advantage of the premium network's freedom to show explicit content and ran with it, and in pretty much every episode, either a main cast member or several background actors bared all (or almost all) for a sex scene. The show was so extreme in its depictions of sex that it literally led to a new term known as "sexposition," where a character delivers some sort of monologue while people are just openly fornicating elsewhere in the scene. (This literally happens in the Season 1 episode "You Win or You Die," where Aidan Gillen's character Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish soliloquizes about his childhood love while two sex workers go at it in the same room.)

So what did the actors think about some of their sex scenes, during which they were potentially nude, feeling vulnerable, or kissing co-stars they'd been platonic friends with for years? Here are just a few "Game of Thrones" stars who felt weird about some of their more risqué scenes.

Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen)

Emilia Clarke's time as Daenerys Targaryen on "Game of Thrones" began with an intimidating and deeply unsettling sex scene. In the show's pilot, Daenerys meets her new husband Khal Drogo (Jason Momoa) under some pretty gross circumstances, in that she's sold to him as a piece of property by her conniving, evil brother Viserys (Harry Lloyd). On their wedding night, Drogo sexually assaults Daenerys while she cries. It's hard to watch. According to Clarke, it was hard to shoot ... but Momoa proved to be an invaluable ally.

During an appearance on Dax Shepard's podcast Armchair Expert in 2019, Clarke said, "[Momoa] was crying more than I was. It's only now that I realize how fortunate I was with that because that could have gone many, many, many different ways."

"Because Jason had experience – he was an experienced actor who had done a bunch of stuff before coming on to this – he was like, 'Sweetie, this is how it's meant to be, this is how it's not meant to be, and I'm going to make sure that that's the f**king gaze,'" Clarke continued. "He was always like, 'Can we get her a f**king robe? She's shivering!' He was so kind and considerate and cared about me as a human being."

In a different interview with Jimmy Kimmel, Clarke revealed another difficulty she experienced during intimate scenes: specifically, that her brother worked in the camera department. "It gets pretty tricky when filming love scenes," Clarke told the late-night host in 2019. "Yeah, there's some days when he's like, 'Oh I'll swing by,' and I'm like, 'No, it's good! You can stay there.'"

Kit Harington (Jon Snow)

Kit Harington basically grew up on the set of "Game of Thrones" as Stark bastard and secret Targaryen heir Jon Snow — and that's what made his intimate scenes so weird. Fans know that Harington and his wife, Rose Leslie, met while playing doomed lovers Jon and Ygritte; after Ygritte dies at the end of Season 4 in a massive battle at Castle Black between the Night's Watch and the wildlings, Jon is left alone once again. That all changes when he meets the dragon queen herself, and after initially butting heads, Jon and Daenerys strike up a romance.

The fact that Jon, within the show's narrative, is Daenerys' nephew makes the whole situation weird enough, but as Harington told Vanity Fair during a feature on Emilia Clarke, the pair also felt really strange filming their love scenes. "If you've known someone for six years and they're best friends with your girlfriend, and you're best friends with them, there is something unnatural and strange about doing a love scene," Harington told the outlet; the two explain, throughout the feature, that they have a close platonic friendship that made their intimate scenes feel bizarre.

Harington also told news.com.au that he found a particularly goofy way to deal with his discomfort when he had to film romantic scenes with Clarke. "But I mean, Emilia is wonderful, I love her, and I've loved working with her," he told the outlet. "And really, it's not hard to have to kiss her. But I did like pretending it was. I'd pretend to throw up when we had to kiss." Charming!

Maisie Williams (Arya Stark)

It took Arya Stark, played by Maisie Williams, a long time to reach the point where she had to deal with a sex scene, but she actually thought the showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss were joking when she got that particular script, as she told Entertainment Weekly. "At first, I thought it was a prank," Williams said, thanks to the fact that Benioff and Weiss apparently made a habit in the show's previous seasons of giving their actors fake, over-the-top scripts. "I was like, 'Yo, good one.' And [the showrunners were] like, 'No, we haven't done that this year.' Oh, f**k!"

The scene in question sees Arya decide to get down and dirty with her longtime friend and fellow fighter Gendry (Joe Dempsie) the night before the two go to war against the Night King's undead army, and as Williams told the outlet, Benioff and Weiss said that how much skin she showed was up to her. Williams said that she chose to not show everything, but that when it came time to actually film the scene, the vibes were really off.

"In the beginning, everyone was really respectful," Williams said. "No one wants to make you feel uncomfortable which kind of makes you feel more uncomfortable, because no one wants to look at anything that they shouldn't look at, which in turn makes you feel like you look awful [...] You want people to act more normal."

"Then [the scene] was rushed," the actress continued. "By the end, we're rushing to finish the scene and [director David Nutter] is going, 'Okay, you're going to come in and do this and do that and, great, take your top off'—and then walked off. And I'm like ... 'Okay. Let's do it.'" Williams only filmed one intimate scene for "Game of Thrones," and it's a shame it unfolded this way.

Iwan Rheon (Ramsay Bolton)

Unfortunately, "Game of Thrones" portrayed a lot of sexual violence during its heyday, and one of its most devastating and upsetting instances of said violence can be seen in the Season 5 episode "Unbent, Unbowed, Unbroken." At the end of the episode, the deeply traumatized Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) marries the sadistic Bolton bastard Ramsay (Iwan Rheon) under extreme duress ... at which point Ramsay brings his new bride to their chambers and brutalizes her, all as Sansa's childhood friend and adoptive sibling of sorts Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) watches and weeps.

It's one of the most gut-wrenching scenes in the entire series, and according to Rheon himself, it was one of the absolute lowlights of his acting career thus far. "That was horrible," Rheon told The Metro in 2020 as they looked back at his body of work. "Nobody wanted to be there. Nobody wants to do that, but if it's telling a story then you have to tell it truthfully. They didn't sensationalise it or anything. It was very, very hard watching. It's a horrible thing that happens, unfortunately, and it shouldn't be. It was the worst day of my career."

"Game of Thrones" fans know that Ramsay does a lot of horrible stuff during his time on the series, but as the actor put it, committing nonsexual acts of violence doesn't feel real, but his scene with Turner felt just terrifyingly real. "Chopping someone's finger off you don't really see it, and when you're doing like a close up, it's a piece of plastic," Rheon mused. "We're just acting, it's not real. Then something like that where you're in the actual reality of the situation is very difficult to deal with. It was a horrible, horrible day."

Esme Bianco (Ros)

Esme Bianco's character, the incredibly clever and politically connected sex worker Ros, is killed during the show's third season — brutally and at the hands of the awful, evil Joffrey Baratheon (Jack Gleeson) — but before that, she filmed a whole lot of nude scenes with multiple actors in the series. (She's one of the sex workers present during the "sexposition" scene, in fact.) Bianco told Refinery29 in 2019 that, despite the brutal nature of some of her scenes, she's at peace with her scenes, but also hopes other actresses would have been harmed by them. "I don't have any regrets about any of the scenes that I did," Bianco said at an event commemorating the show's eighth season. "I feel very comfortable with what I did, and I was treated with respect the entire time. But I do worry about young actresses who come into this business and may be coming in with their own baggage and not necessarily dealing with the scenes in the healthiest way for their mental health."

Bianco has expressed different sentiments, though, while thinking about her own sexual traumas. Discussing a scene where Joffrey forces Ros to beat a fellow sex worker, Bianco said to HuffPost, "I was shocked by how graphically violent it was and how it had never occurred to me before that it might be triggering some of my trauma. When I was filming that scene, I remember being super uncomfortable with it. ... It was pretty tense and everyone was squirming a bit. But violence like that had been sort of normalized for me and, because of my experiences with intimate partner violence, I dealt with it and probably minimized it a lot more than I would have otherwise."

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).