Emilia Clarke on the mystery and survival instinct of her Solo character Qi'ra

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Feb 8, 2018, 1:02 PM EST

With a little more than three months to go until its release, some light is finally being shed on Solo: A Star Wars Story, the spinoff film that will tell us what shaped an ambitious young pilot into the lovable scoundrel we all know from the original trilogy. After a Super Bowl teaser on Sunday and a full trailer on Monday, the stars of the film are finally able to open up a bit about who they play and what their role is in Han Solo's (Alden Ehrenreich) journey from no one to legend. Today, it's Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke's turn.

After years spent as a star among Thrones fandom, Clarke is stepping into an even bigger fandom with Star Wars as Qi'ra, a mysterious woman who's both a part of Han Solo's past and his present in Solo. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Clarke shed some light on her character's essentially lifelong connection to Han.

"They grew up as pals, as partners in crime. There is obviously the romantic side of things. But they grew up together," she said. "And the beautiful thing about this Han Solo story is it’s highlighting all of the most brilliant aspects of Han Solo the character and characterizing those aspects in characters that he meets on his journey to becoming who he is."

Clarke, while not spoiling anything about the film, touched on one of the most intriguing unanswered questions about Solo with that remark. Watching the trailer, we saw at least two familiar faces that we already knew would appear in the film: Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover), and Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo). We also saw plenty of new faces who play major roles, including Qi'ra, Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson), Val (Thandie Newton), and L3-37 (Phoebe Waller-Bridge). Are they never seen again because they die in the film, or did they choose to simply part ways in some form with Han? Clarke certainly won't say, and we likely won't know anything on that front until we see the film.

But what about Qi'ra herself? Who is she besides Han's childhood friend who helps shape who he will become? What's her story? 

Clarke describes her character as "an enigma," and as such she really doesn't divulge much about her background other than her connection to Solo. What she does emphasize consistently is one particular trait about Qi'ra that runs through the entire film: an intense survival instinct in a corrupt world of smugglers and gamblers.

"The point where you meet her, she is with Han. They are both doing what they’ve got to do to survive. And that is Qi’ra the whole the movie," Clarke said, noting that her character is "surviving in the underworld that we know to be [filled with] smuggling, aloof gamblers, wrong-side-of-the-tracks nasty ones."

As for what kind of underworld she's dealing with, Clarke compared elements of Solo to the casino on Canto Bight in The Last Jedi, a place filled with morally bankrupt people making money on the backs of the disenfranchised. Qi'ra, inserted into a similar situation, is doing whatever she has to.

"We have the main storyline talk about what the smuggling, gambling black market world is like. It’s dangerous and it’s sordid and it’s ugly, and it’s really, really dark," she said. "There are loads of different gangster-y elements running through it. It has been really fun to put Qi’ra in that. She has a couple of guises, but essentially she is just fighting to stay alive."

For more from Clarke on Solo and Qi'ra, head over to EW for the rest of the interview. Solo: A Star Wars Story hits theaters May 25.

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