Culture

Emilia Clarke: Foxtel apologises after Australian CEO calls actor ‘dumpy-looking girl’ at House of the Dragon premiere

Foxtel’s chief executive has apologised for referring to Game of Thrones actor Emilia Clarke as a “dumpy-looking girl”, while launching the prequel of the series on Tuesday.

Delivering a speech at the Sydney premiere, Patrick Delany told media he was initially bemused when he first started watching Game of Thrones. “I was like, ‘What’s this show with the dumpy-looking girl who walks into the flames?’” he said jovially, referring to Clarke’s lead character Daenerys.

A Foxtel spokesperson apologised for Delany’s comments, saying it was an attempt at self-deprecating humour.

“On behalf of Mr Delany, the Foxtel Group apologises if his remarks were misunderstood and caused any offence,” the spokesperson told Crikey, who broke the story.

Delany’s comments were meant to be “self-deprecating and lighthearted”, the apology continued, intending to convey the idea that Game of Thrones had taken a hitherto unknown actor and thrown her into the international spotlight.

“Emilia Clarke went from relatively unknown to one of the most recognised and most-loved actors in television and film,” the spokesperson said.

The 35-year-old British actor, who does not feature in the prequel and was not present at the Sydney premiere, is scheduled to appear in the Marvel television series Secret Invasion, which is now in post-production.

The Guardian understands the comments were met by awkward laughter. One person at the premiere told Crikey: “It felt like he was expecting us to laugh along, but people in the room were obviously shocked by it.”

Another said: “There was a bit of a gasp.”

Game of Thrones has gone down in history as the most-watched television drama of all time. Its final episode, although widely panned by critics and greeted with disappointment by many of its millions of fans, attracted 1.076 million simultaneous viewers, the largest overnight audience ever recorded.

HBO’s House of the Dragon will debut on 21 August on Foxtel.

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