Speaking on Jessie Ware’s Table Manners podcast recently, the Game Of Thrones star revealed that she no longer takes photos with fans because of this scary experience.
Emma Stone has spoken out about her anxiety, Demi Lovato about her bipolar disorder, to name just two. For Clarke, the subject she most frequently addresses is her recovery period in the aftermath of her brain aneurysm and subsequent neurosurgery.
“After my operations, I didn’t want to look at my own face,” Clarke told Stylist in 2019. “I don’t normally, but all my emotions were heightened. When I looked in the mirror, I just saw pain in my eyes. I found it very, very difficult. I used to put on make-up without looking in the mirror, which probably made me look a lot worse.”
“I was genuinely walking through an airport and I suddenly starting having what I can only believe to be a panic attack brought on by complete exhaustion,” Clarke said. “I was on my own. I was on the phone to my mum saying, ‘I feel like I can’t breathe. I don’t know what’s going on.’”
Her mum talked Clarke through the attack, advising her to take deep breaths and sit down, which is the precise moment when the floodgates opened.
“I’m there and the tears are coming out,” Clarke recalled.
And it was also the precise moment when a fan decided to demand that Clarke pose in a selfie with her. “I’m crying and crying,” Clarke said. “This guy’s like, ‘Can I get a selfie?’ And I was like, ‘I can’t breathe, I’m really sorry. Just having a minute.’ It was after a few moments like that where I was like, ‘I don’t know how to do this.’”
Today, Clarke has a policy whereby instead of taking selfies she offers to sign her autograph instead. The reason being, she explained to Ware, it leads to a more meaningful interaction for both herself and the fans.
“When you do that,” she said, “you have to have an interaction with that person, as opposed to someone just going, ‘Give us a selfie, goodbye.’ It turns into, ‘what’s your name? Who am I making it out to? Then you have a chat and you’re actually having a truthful human-to-human thing, as opposed to it being this other thing that probably isn’t nice for them and isn’t nice to you.”
Clarke isn’t alone in moving away from selfies, especially in the world of mega-fandoms. In recent months, both Harry Potter star Emma Watson and Star Wars actor Daisy Ridley have spoken about their choice to refuse selfies.
“For me, it’s the difference between being able to have a life or not,” Watson told Vanity Fair. “If someone takes a photograph of me and posts it, within two seconds they’ve created a marker of exactly where I am within 10 meters. They can see what I’m wearing and who I’m with. I just can’t give that tracking data.”
Ridley’s reasoning, as per The Sunday Times, was similar: “I’m not a big photo taker, and I don’t want everyone to immediately know where I am. I know people share [their selfies] immediately, so I’m very aware of privacy in that way… I usually [tell fans]: ‘I’m really sorry. Not today.”