Daenerys can't seem to catch a break. The khaleesi (Emilia Clarke) has experienced loss after loss this season, and on Sunday's Game of Thrones, she suffers several devastating setbacks.
[Spoilers! If you haven't seen Sunday's episode, "The Old Gods and the New," it's best you don't read further.]
In the closing scene, Daenerys returns to where she's staying in Qarth only to discover most of her khalasar have been slayed and her precious dragons have been stolen. Loyal handmaiden Irri is among those murdered, and it's a surprising death since the character lives far beyond this point in the George R.R. Martin books on which Game of Thrones is based. "I was surprised reading Irri's death," Acharia tells TVGuide.com. "In the books, that doesn't happen. In the books, something kinky happens with Irri. So I think lots of fans will be disappointed [they won't get to see that on the series]. It's a little bit of a relief for me though."
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Although fans of the books may feel cheated of seeing that racy scene, they're probably angrier at losing Irri so soon. It's the second premature death related to Daenerys in the series this season. Earlier, her bloodrider Rakharo (Elyes Gabel) was killed, something that doesn't occur in the books. Acharia feels that both of these deaths serve a purpose. "I think about the fact of how small that Dothraki horde is now, and how Daenerys loses everybody," she says. "It's symbolic: She's lost her husband [Khal Drogo] and then she loses her protectors, those most loyal to her basically. Rakharo is the bloodrider of her bloodriders. And Irri is the person who loved her the most in her clan. What it will show is that Daenerys is a tough cookie, tougher than we ever thought."
Check out this exclusive video interview of Acharia and then continue reading for more insights into playing Irri:
We didn't get to see Irri's death scene, even though you filmed one. Can you walk us through it?
Amrita Acharia: I'm waiting for Daenerys to come back so I'm running up the stairs. "Khaleesi, are you back yet?" And the dragons are gone. Out of nowhere, there's a noose around my neck. I think it's hard to be strangled onscreen because obviously to an extent to make it look real, you really have to be a bit strangled. So I had massive bruises on my neck the next day. I was proud. Battle scars. Death scenes are fun.
Sadly we also had to see Rakharo die this season. How was playing that scene when the horse brought back his head?
Acharia: Well, the horse kept getting spooked, which was really funny. So I had to mime a little. The script said, "low wail," so I was like, "Alright I'll do a low wail." It really freaked the horse out. The horse could tell I was sad. I like emotional scenes, I like a bit of drama. It's nice to get to do something a little bit meaty. It was really sad. I felt for Irri. I think it sucks to be stuck in a desert and then all of a sudden the dude you fancy and never told is dead and you find his head.
What were Irri's feelings towards Daenerys, her khaleesi? She's an atypical leader in the Dothraki culture.
Acharia: I think in terms of a khaleesi, Irri would like something different. She would like the fact that this woman is powerful. And obviously Daenerys does become very strong and very independent, especially after Khal Drogo's death. So I think Irri is inspired by that and looks up to that and sees her as a strong person.
What are the best thing about playing Irri?
Acharia: She gets to hang around Daenerys all the time. So, you get a lot of time on set to watch everything. In terms of the character, the best thing about being Irri is she's a little bit of a firecracker or has become that way. I think she has a bit of a temper, so that's quite fun to play with. She does really, really care about her mistress.
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After playing the handmaiden Irri, were there some habits you acquired?
Acharia: I think you just get very protective. I was like, "I'm looking after this." And I think that carried on to off-site as well. "Emilia, do you need water? Are you OK? Do you need an apple? Is it too hot?"
How was your working relationship with Emilia Clarke?
Acharia: It's nice. She's such a lovely girl, really down to earth and really easygoing. She'll have a laugh. And she's really focused. It's so inspirational to watch her on set. But she also has time for everybody.
What do you love and hate the most about your Dothraki attire?
Acharia: I hate that it's so itchy. It was made of leather, which I love. I love leather. I'm very much a leather jacket, leather trousers kind of girl. So that was fine. I was like, "Can I take this home with me?" But the top part is a little ropey and itchy. I love the fact that the clothing is very earthy. It really suits the Dothraki people. And everything about the Dothraki is practical. It doesn't have to look pretty.
If you could pick anything, what would your own personal sigil be?
Acharia: Let's go for a tiger in a leotard. Holding a Venti extra hot latte, no froth.
If you were sitting on the Iron Throne, what would your first edict be?
Acharia: I'd probably throw a massive party first and foremost, like the Dothraki style.
What will you miss the most about Game of Thrones?
Acharia: I will miss being part of something so epic. It's the kind of thing I'd watch, that I'd like to just be a part of that big buzz as well and being Dothraki.
Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9/8c on HBO.