An Australian television company has apologized after its chief executive referred to actor Emilia Clarke as a “short, dumpy girl” at a premiere this week.
Foxtel CEO Patrick Delany made the eyebrow-raising remark before a screening of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” spinoff series, “House of the Dragon,” on Tuesday. According to Australian news outlet Crikey, Delany was describing how he was late to begin watching “Game of Thrones,” in which Clarke portrayed Daenerys Targaryen.
“I was like, ‘What’s this show with the short, dumpy girl walking into the fire?’” he reportedly said, referring to Daenerys.
The CEO’s apparent attempt at a joke, however, landed with a thud among the night’s attendees. “It felt like he was expecting us to laugh along,” one attendee told Crikey, “but people in the room were obviously shocked by it.”
Film critic Travis Johnson, who attended the premiere, echoed that sentiment.
“Yeah, I was there for this, and turned to my mate for clarification as I simply didn’t believe someone would say that on mic,” he tweeted.
Yeah, I was there for this, and turned to my mate for clarification as I simply didn't believe someone would say that on mic. https://t.co/GtOK67GJxh
— Travis Johnson (@CelluloidWhisky) August 17, 2022
By Wednesday, a Foxtel spokesperson issued a statement attempting to backpedal on Delany’s words.
“The aim was to convey that for him, ‘Games of Thrones’ was something very different for television in 2011 and that Emilia Clarke went from relatively unknown to one of the most recognized and most-loved actors in television and film,” the statement read, according to The Wrap. “On behalf of Mr. Delany, the Foxtel Group apologizes if his remarks were misunderstood and caused any offense.”
Clarke’s representatives did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.
Clarke does not appear in “House of the Dragon,” which premieres next week on HBO. The 10-episode series is based on George R. R. Martin’s 2018 novel, “Fire & Blood,” and is set 200 years before “Game of Thrones.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.