“She’s great, she’s really, really on form,” Williams told Extra.
“Talk about a fighter,” added Turner, 23.
Last month, Clarke wrote an emotional essay for The New Yorker in which she opened up about undergoing two life-saving brain surgeries over the last eight years to correct the aneurysm growths.
Clarke has since created a charity, SameYou, to raise money for people recovering from brain injuries and strokes.
“The launch of her charity … we are so proud of her,” added Williams, 21. “I’m now happy she can share that with the world, and inspire other people who are going through things.”
In her essay, Clarke explained that her health problems started in February 2011, soon after wrapping filming on Game of Thrones’ first season. She said she was working out with her trainer in London when she felt a headache forming.
“My trainer had me get into the plank position, and I immediately felt as though an elastic band were squeezing my brain,” she wrote. “I tried to ignore the pain and push through it, but I just couldn’t. I told my trainer I had to take a break. Somehow, almost crawling, I made it to the locker room. I reached the toilet, sank to my knees, and proceeded to be violently, voluminously ill. Meanwhile, the pain — shooting, stabbing, constricting pain — was getting worse. At some level, I knew what was happening: my brain was damaged.”
After being diagnosed with a subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH), which is a life-threatening type of stroke caused by bleeding into the space surrounding the brain, Clarke went into emergency surgery.
She spent four days in the intensive care unit before spending another week and a half recovering. Clarke said that two weeks after surgery was an important marker to check her progress, but it did not go well, and she was unable to remember her name.
“In my worst moments, I wanted to pull the plug. I asked the medical staff to let me die,” she said. “My job — my entire dream of what my life would be — centered on language, on communication. Without that, I was lost. I was sent back to the I.C.U. and, after about a week, the aphasia passed. I was able to speak.”
Clarke was able to leave the hospital and continue working, but she was warned that there was another, smaller aneurysm on the other side of her brain that could “pop.”
Though she went back to work on Game of Thrones, she said filming the show’s second season was a massive challenge — “If I am truly being honest, every minute of every day I thought I was going to die,” she admitted.
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In 2013, during one of Clarke’s regular brain scans, doctors found that her second aneurysm had doubled in size, and required a second, but “easier” operation. However, it didn’t go as planned.
“When they woke me, I was screaming in pain. The procedure had failed,” she wrote. “I had a massive bleed and the doctors made it plain that my chances of surviving were precarious if they didn’t operate again.”
After a painful recovery, Clarke’s health steadily improved.
“In the years since my second surgery I have healed beyond my most unreasonable hopes,” she said. “I am now at a hundred percent.”
Game of Thronesreturns April 14 at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.