Nathalie Emmanuel tracks Missandei’s journey from slave to freethinking woman

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In Nathalie Emmanuel’s first visit to Cape Town and South Africa, the English actress paid a visit to the local KFM Breakfast morning drive radio show and discussed her new cameo role in the new Maze Runner movie (are they still making those?), as well as her involvement in the Fate of the Furious franchise and, of course, Game of Thrones.

There were no season seven teases (shockingly, she wasn’t even asked about it!), but Emmanuel did disclose details about her audition for the show, the doors Game of Thrones has opened for her, and the evolution of Missandei throughout the seasons.

Five years ago, when Nathalie auditioned for the show, she was already a big fan, but still had no idea what a phenomenon it would become from season three onwards:

“When I auditioned for Game of Thrones, I was like [a] hardcore fan, fully invested in seasons one and two. And I feel like only a really small percentage of people knew of the show. It was usually people that had read the books. It was a really niche thing. And it’s amazing to see how universal it’s become, and so many more people watch it. You’ve got the “show fans” versus the “book fans” โ€”it’s all like a big [thing.] And it’s great!”

The fulfillment of filming Game of Thrones hasn’t been the only reward, however, as the role also helped Emmanuel further her career โ€”though not in the way you may expect: “It definitely opened up doors for me, because people wanted to talk about it when I went into auditions. [It] broke the ice straight away. That was the one thing that I really used to struggle with going into auditions. Now they would be like ‘Oh, I love the show!’, ‘I really like this’, you know. So it automatically helped me in my auditioning: I get to feel relaxed in the room, because people want to talk about this thing that I’m excited about too.” And this change in attitude paid off: “Off the back of that, it definitely put me in [view] of the producers or the writers of the Fast and Furious franchise.”

“To be honest, because of the show’s history (and the books’ as well, if you’ve read them), I think everyone has this ‘I’m probably gonna die’ thing, you know what I mean? And I think that I had that too, from the beginning”, the actress admitted, when asked about whether the cast wonders who will survive each season. “And the fact that we’ve got season seven coming out is insane โ€”and I’m still there! It’s like ‘okay, no one’s noticed I’m here, maybe.'”, Emmanuel joked. “They’d be like ‘oh yeah, she’s here! We should kill her!'”

Despite her fears, Missandei still hasn’t shuffled off this mortal coil. The upcoming seventh season will be Nathalie’s fifth year in Game of Thrones. It’s been a long journey for her, just as it’s been for the character of Missandei, who has grown significantly since her modest beginnings… Yet, it didn’t always look like that was going to be the case:

“When I auditioned for that part, it was really vague in terms of the commitment. They were like ‘Three to five episodes, maybe future seasons…’ It could’ve been three episodes and that’s it. So, for me, the fact that my character has grown and become such a part of the show and a part of Daenerys’ journey has been such a joy and a blessing. I still pinch myself a little bit that she’s still there. [To] get to develop a character over a number of seasons, for any actor, is so fulfilling. It’s really fun playing Missandei and seeing her come from indoctrinated slave to freethinking, free-feeling, official ‘career woman.'”

Daenerys may have freed Missandei from her chains, but it was Missandei who truly liberated herself, allowing herself to feel for another person as a free-feeling human should, and becoming one of Dany’s foremost advisers. I’m very much looking forward to see how Missandei develops in season seven… and beyond, hopefully. Fingers crossed!

15 responses

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    1. It’s cool that Nathalie seems to have read the books, I dont’ honestly care whether the actors make that choice (that’s a professional choice for each of them to make) but it’s always fun when one of them is a clear fan of the source. ๐Ÿ™‚

      <3 Missandei! I appreciate how the age up of the character has allowed her to be a person with real agency in Dany's inner circle (as are Jorah, Tyrion, Grey Worm, etc). Although Missandei the "child genius" was also a brilliant character, the relationship between her and Dany could never be as equals.

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    2. I have to mention again how she also gets to wear some of the coolest outfits too. She looks total badass in the outfit in the picture at the top. It appears to me that they’ll ‘elevate’ her status in Daenerys’ council even more this season… That is, while with Daenerys and not just in her absence.

      Wait… Those two didn’t even have any lines to each other last season did they. She was gone until the very end of episode 8. After that they were just together in the scene with the Masters on the pyramid and the ship at the end but didn’t speak to each other. I imagine they’ll have plenty of interaction this season though. ๐Ÿ™‚

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    3. Love Nathalie and Missandei, I also really love the relationship between Missandei and Dany I think it’s very beautiful. We don’t actually have many non-relation relationships between two girls, so it’s always refreshing to see. I really loved that moment in the end of S5 when they held hands it was really beautiful.
      I also love how much more independent Missandei is getting, she was so quiet before but she is really starting to speak her own mind now, can’t wait to see more of her.

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    4. Clob,

      You might be right about that. I’d have to rewatch all of season 6 to be totally sure, but I believe you are correct.

      Danaerys hasn’t said a word to Varys yet either.

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    5. So dang beautiful. I love that she loves the role so much! But Nathalie, there are plenty of us who are ‘book AND show’, not ‘book VS show’. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Love her, and I love Missandei’s quiet strength and confidence.

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    6. I adore Nathalie and I can’t wait to see her in fast 9.

      Don’t expect any slip ups from her. She’s always tight lipped when it comes to the show. I’m really interested in where Missandei will be at the end of next season.

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    7. *fangirl squeeee* One of my favorite scenes is the one in which Missandei attends Dany at her bath, while tutoring her in proper Dothraki pronunciation. These few minutes brilliantly establish the growing bond between the two, while giving Missandei the opportunity to show off her prodigious gifts- and the schoolmarmish aspect of her personality. It was like a small jewel of normality in an otherwise horrific environment. Of course, I immediately feared for her life, and am grateful to the gods (old and new), and D&D, that she has not only survived, but looks to play an increasingly important role in Dany’s arc. Hoping that she and Grey Worm not only survive, but will pair bond in the end. I know – call me a hopeless romantic ๐Ÿ˜€

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    8. Mr Derp:
      Clob,

      You might be right about that.Iโ€™d have to rewatch all of season 6 to be totally sure, but I believe you are correct.

      Danaerys hasnโ€™t said a word to Varys yet either.

      Looking forward to it. Dani needs more snark in her life.

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    9. Natalie was in a soap opera here in UK which can sometimes be a death knell to actors so she has done very well. There aren’t many actors from soaps (here in UK anyway)who have gone onto make major films/series, so good luck to her.

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    10. Carole H,
      You know, I have never thought about the UK having soap operas. I guess I should think that of course there are. I only remember hearing about US and Latin American soaps though. There are many US soap actors that have made it big; Meg Ryan, Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio to name a few. It doesn’t seem like a rare thing but then there are a lot that end up on the same soap for years and years too.

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    11. Clob,

      There are a few here that have been in the same soap for donkey’s years , one especially who has been in Coronation Street since it started in the 60’s! William Roache, the father of Linus Roache who was in Vikings and Law and Order in the US, if you know them. I think I could probably count on one hand the actors who have gone onto bigger and better things after soaps, Sarah Lancashire springs to mind, who just won an award for the excellent series Happy Valley and is a good actress. I don’t watch soaps because I don’t like them, so perhaps I shouldn’t make a judgement.

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    12. Carole H,

      To Clob’s comment about successful U.S. actors who started out on soaps, I will add Julianne Moore… arguably one of the most critically acclaimed actresses of our generation. And a couple of my favorite Mexican film stars, Gael Garcรญa Bernal and Salma Hayek, started out on telenovelas; I first saw Hayek on Teresa way back in the day!

      On that note: I’m not a big fan of soap operas, but I’m really not a fan of American soaps. In Latin America they’re only on the air for a year or two, and then the story wraps up and viewers know what happens to all the characters. When we came to the U.S. I was utterly confounded by the idea of a TV series that had been on the air for decades. Why the hell would anyone invest in a story one had no hope of knowing the conclusion of?

      Oh, wait… That’s where D&D come in. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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    13. Wolfish: When we came to the U.S. I was utterly confounded by the idea of a TV series that had been on the air for decades.

      Not only that, but the stories move at a snails pace. I don’t watch them but I did watch one quite a bit for a few weeks years ago – I think it was All My Children. I then saw an episode at least a year later and I swear I still knew exactly what was going on.

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    14. Clob,

      Coronation Street started here in December 1960 which is one year older than me! It is still going. Eastenders started 1985 and that too is still going and although I don’t want GoT to finish and I shall probably have to sit in a dark room when it does, I do think series’ have a natural ending because, as with soaps, all the stories become the same as the writers must run out of ideas eventually in my opinion. Oh dear, I hope I haven’t upset any Corrie or enders fans!

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