The 26-year-old actress spoke to the LA Times ahead of Game of Thrones' fourth-season premiere Sunday night. The new season finds Clarke's character, Daenerys Targaryen, across the sea from King's Landing and the Seven Kingdoms. The exiled queen has conquered several cities in Slaver's Bay with the help of her Unsullied soldiers, and must deal with treachery as she cements her hold on the area.
"It's been wonderful," Clarke begins of her role on Game of Thrones. "While [Daenerys pushes] herself, I get to push myself and my acting every season."
"I relate to her more and more," the actress continues. "Every season I find more depth to her as a character... She's definitely grown and continues to grow from a girl into a woman, and me too, so we're in it together."
The star says with a laugh that her mastery of the [fictional] Valyrian language has been "oddly easier" than Dothraki for the show.
"Throughout the seasons I've kind of begun to figure out the repetition of particular words and phrases," Clarke elaborates. "[I] have got to sort of see what I believe they might mean and go directly into English, just trying to make it flow. If you speak it as you would your own language, then it reads so much better."
"Fundamentally [Daenerys] is a leader and survivor," she goes on to assert. "The beautiful difference between Daenerys and the rest of the cast is her ultimate goal is pure... She would like to rule and create an equal world."
"That's kind of the beauty of being a woman," the star says of the show's powerful female characters. "I think the reason why strong women have such a powerful impact is that you've got the strength of a man with the heart and sensitivity of a woman."
The actress will portray another strong woman in the upcoming Terminator: Genesis film. Clarke is slated to play Sarah Connor in the new movie -- a role that her Game of Thrones co-star, Lena Headey (Cersei Lannister), took on for the television show Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.
"They can expect a bad-ass," Clarke says of Connor in the reboot. "There are differences that I believe will surprise and hopefully excite fans and people who aren't so familiar."
Terminator: Genesis will debut in theaters in summer 2015. You can find Emilia Clarke in the meantime on Game of Thrones, Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.