‘Game of Thrones’ star Nathalie Emmanuel: 14 things about life inside and outside Westeros

Paolo Abad
Nathalie talks about touring Intramuros, Vin Diesel, and her 'Game of Thrones' BFF, the Khaleesi

All photos by Paolo Abad/Rappler

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – While Nathalie Emmanuel’s Game of Thrones castmates have made waves in many Comic Cons in America and across the globe, AsiaPOP Manila is the first one for the English actress.

By its 3rd day, the much-anticipated event was in full swing. Throngs of pop culture fans (some costume-clad) brought an electric and festive mood to the World Trade Center. With adoring fans lining up to meet her, Nathalie said, “Thanks for having me. It’s been really special.” (READ: IN PHOTOS: Celebrity guests, cosplayers, exhibits at AsiaPOP Comic Con 2015

Check out this quirky but warm welcome that she received in Manila:

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<blockquote class=”instagram-media” data-instgrm-captioned data-instgrm-version=”4″ style=” background:#FFF; border:0; border-radius:3px; box-shadow:0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width:658px; padding:0; width:99.375%; width:-webkit-calc(100% – 2px); width:calc(100% – 2px);”><div style=”padding:8px;”> <div style=” background:#F8F8F8; line-height:0; margin-top:40px; padding:50.0% 0; text-align:center; width:100%;”> <div style=” background:url(data:image/png;base64,iVBORw0KGgoAAAANSUhEUgAAACwAAAAsCAMAAAApWqozAAAAGFBMVEUiIiI9PT0eHh4gIB4hIBkcHBwcHBwcHBydr+JQAAAACHRSTlMABA4YHyQsM5jtaMwAAADfSURBVDjL7ZVBEgMhCAQBAf//42xcNbpAqakcM0ftUmFAAIBE81IqBJdS3lS6zs3bIpB9WED3YYXFPmHRfT8sgyrCP1x8uEUxLMzNWElFOYCV6mHWWwMzdPEKHlhLw7NWJqkHc4uIZphavDzA2JPzUDsBZziNae2S6owH8xPmX8G7zzgKEOPUoYHvGz1TBCxMkd3kwNVbU0gKHkx+iZILf77IofhrY1nYFnB/lQPb79drWOyJVa/DAvg9B/rLB4cC+Nqgdz/TvBbBnr6GBReqn/nRmDgaQEej7WhonozjF+Y2I/fZou/qAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC); display:block; height:44px; margin:0 auto -44px; position:relative; top:-22px; width:44px;”></div></div> <p style=” margin:8px 0 0 0; padding:0 4px;”> <a href=”https://instagram.com/p/7u5rbEpkJa/” style=” color:#000; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; font-style:normal; font-weight:normal; line-height:17px; text-decoration:none; word-wrap:break-word;” target=”_top”>Talk about the coolest welcome ever!!!! Was not expecting this as I walk into the hotel! @loulouvictoria and I just can&#39;t stop smiling! #helloManila #Philippines #asiapopcomicon #gameofthronesthemesong #feelingthelove #thankyou</a></p> <p style=” color:#c9c8cd; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; line-height:17px; margin-bottom:0; margin-top:8px; overflow:hidden; padding:8px 0 7px; text-align:center; text-overflow:ellipsis; white-space:nowrap;”>A video posted by Nathalie Emmanuel (@nathalieemmanuel) on <time style=” font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; line-height:17px;” datetime=”2015-09-17T13:08:20+00:00″>Sep 17, 2015 at 6:08am PDT</time></p></div></blockquote>
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Nathalie, whose first “telly” break was on the Channel 4 soap opera Hollyoaks, gained fame on the other side of the pond when she was cast as Missandei on the Season 3 of HBO fantasy series Game of Thrones.

Missandei was but a lowly but extremely wise slave-interpreter (speaking 19 languages), when Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) first met her in Astapor. Later, Missandei meteorically ascended the ranks to become Daenerys’ confidante.

Because Game of Thrones is a huge production, too, Nathalie transitioned smoothly into Hollywood – taking roles in two recent blockbusters, Furious 7 and Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials.

“Doing film is so exciting. It’s very different to television – just, you know, pure scale of it, but at the same time, shooting Game of Thrones is sometimes a bit like a movie, when there’s like, 500 people on set, big cranes, and crazy locations,” said Nathalie. “So, I’ve had quite a good transition into movies, actually.”

After the astonishing and harrowing events in the last season of Game of Thrones, reporters huddled around Nathalie. An insider in Westeros was in our midst, and we also couldn’t resist the urge to coax her into divulging some juicy details. As she is as tough as her character, we settled with her talking about life on-and-off-screen.

Here are some things we learned about her and from her:

1. Nathalie took a quick sidetrip and went on a historical tour in Intramuros with her sister. “I was very proud,” she said. “We went to the Manila Cathedral, San Agustin Church, and Fort Santiago. I learned lots of things, and it was really interesting.”

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<blockquote class=”instagram-media” data-instgrm-captioned data-instgrm-version=”4″ style=” background:#FFF; border:0; border-radius:3px; box-shadow:0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width:658px; padding:0; width:99.375%; width:-webkit-calc(100% – 2px); width:calc(100% – 2px);”><div style=”padding:8px;”> <div style=” background:#F8F8F8; line-height:0; margin-top:40px; padding:50.0% 0; text-align:center; width:100%;”> <div style=” background:url(data:image/png;base64,iVBORw0KGgoAAAANSUhEUgAAACwAAAAsCAMAAAApWqozAAAAGFBMVEUiIiI9PT0eHh4gIB4hIBkcHBwcHBwcHBydr+JQAAAACHRSTlMABA4YHyQsM5jtaMwAAADfSURBVDjL7ZVBEgMhCAQBAf//42xcNbpAqakcM0ftUmFAAIBE81IqBJdS3lS6zs3bIpB9WED3YYXFPmHRfT8sgyrCP1x8uEUxLMzNWElFOYCV6mHWWwMzdPEKHlhLw7NWJqkHc4uIZphavDzA2JPzUDsBZziNae2S6owH8xPmX8G7zzgKEOPUoYHvGz1TBCxMkd3kwNVbU0gKHkx+iZILf77IofhrY1nYFnB/lQPb79drWOyJVa/DAvg9B/rLB4cC+Nqgdz/TvBbBnr6GBReqn/nRmDgaQEej7WhonozjF+Y2I/fZou/qAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC); display:block; height:44px; margin:0 auto -44px; position:relative; top:-22px; width:44px;”></div></div> <p style=” margin:8px 0 0 0; padding:0 4px;”> <a href=”https://instagram.com/p/7xBLCApkHA/” style=” color:#000; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; font-style:normal; font-weight:normal; line-height:17px; text-decoration:none; word-wrap:break-word;” target=”_top”>The history of #Manila and The #Philippines as a whole is so amazing! After only visiting #Intramuros&#39;s Manila Cathedral, the San Agustin Museum and Fort Santiago my brain is burstin with information! And there is so much more to see!! All thanks to our brilliant tour guide Greg Dorris!! #history #lovedit #wishiwasherelonger #thisbooksaysDominicaonit  #manilacathedral #sanagustinmuseum #fortsantiago #culture #travel #iloveoldbooks</a></p> <p style=” color:#c9c8cd; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; line-height:17px; margin-bottom:0; margin-top:8px; overflow:hidden; padding:8px 0 7px; text-align:center; text-overflow:ellipsis; white-space:nowrap;”>A photo posted by Nathalie Emmanuel (@nathalieemmanuel) on <time style=” font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; line-height:17px;” datetime=”2015-09-18T08:52:18+00:00″>Sep 18, 2015 at 1:52am PDT</time></p></div></blockquote>
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2. Despite being in a movie about cars, Furious 7, she doesn’t have a driver’s license. “So that’s a bit awkward,” confessed Nathalie. “I live in London! You just jump on the bus or on the Tube. It’s so much quicker! You don’t need to drive, really.”

3. She spent Thanksgiving with Vin Diesel and his family while filming in Atlanta. “That was just so great ‘cause being English, we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, but they were really adamant that I wasn’t to be in my hotel by myself,” said Nathalie. “That says it all already about the people – the person that Vin is and his family are.”

4. The Maze Runner bunch welcomed her into the fold with playing Mario KartHowever, Nathalie confessed that she chose to watch in the sidelines most of the time because she’s not quite good at it. It’s that case of when everyone’s finished, and they’re like, waiting for me who’s in 12th, stuck in a corner, and going the wrong way,” she said.

5. One of the coolest perks of being on Game of Thrones is getting to read the scripts in advance. She says that she sympathizes with the viewers though: “I came into season 3, but I watched from the beginning religiously. I’m there with you guys.”

6. If she wasn’t Missandei, she would like to play Cersei.  “Being baddies is always fun,” said Nathalie.

7. Daenerys and Tyrion are her favorite characters. “She’s my homie as well, so I gotta be loyal,” she said about the Khaleesi, but on Tyrion, “just because he’s so brilliant and hilarious.”

8. “Daenerys is my homie” should be on a shirt because the Mother of Dragons are friends on and off-screen. “They genuinely support each other, and they recognize each other’s abilities and powers where two women from very, very different backgrounds, upbringings, and what-have-you,” she said about the friendship between Daenerys and Missandei.

Off-screen, she says that she and Emilia Clarke are a “match made in heaven, because we hang out off-set and stuff.” She even shared, “We like to have little tea parties.”

9. Although Game of Thrones is massive, she feels very much at home on set. She said, “Every time we go back, I’m so excited. It’s like going home or going back to school – it’s familiar and comfortable. Every one works really, really hard, and are so down-to-earth and so sweet.”

[Spoilers ahead for those who haven’t seen Season 5]

  

10. “For the watch,” Jon Snow? “I have no answer. I’m sorry to say.” #Dracarys

11. Valar morghulis – all men must die,” as the Valyrian aphorism goes. What if she were given a chance to choose how to die? “She’s had a hard life, you know –slavery and all that craziness. So I kind of wanna like, settle down and be happy,” said Nathalie as her first option. “But then, part of me is just like, maybe she can just die in an epic battle and kick some butt first. Suddenly, we realize that she’s like a ninja secretly, and we’re like, ‘Oh my God, Missandei is so badass!’”

Well, maybe Nathalie just forgot that Daenerys actually quipped in one episode where “Valar morghulis” was mentioned, “But we are not men.”

12. With Daario and Jorah gone to look for Daenerys, who flew off with Drogon in the penultimate episode of Season 5, the triumvirate of Missandei, Grey Worm, and Tyrion is left with a volatile situation in Meereen. 

“We were left with Peter Dinklage in our little team, so we’re seeing a whole new dynamic with that group, which only Tyrion can bring, I think. So that’s gonna be fun to watch,” said Nathalie.

She also later added, “[Missandei has] been there many times and understands the culture. Maybe she could be a voice for the Meereenese people, and maybe help the people in the Pyramid understand what’s going on in the city.”

13. While much has been said about the women of Game of Thrones, Nathalie says that their portrayal has been diverse, “a real mix,” but always about being strong: “We’re seeing very, very intelligent women who are surviving this very, very harsh world that the wonderful George [R.R.] Martin created for them.”

As Season 5 was also filled with jaw-dropping drama, the show’s women were especially at the fore. She said: “We had some pretty dark things happening to some female characters last season, but they persevere and they keep going. I think that’s really important when we see that.”

14. She thinks Missandei sets up a great example by representing “people who have nothing and come from nothing, but using what’s up here and their courage to overcome incredible, astonishing circumstances.”

Nathalie Emmanuel as Missandei and Jacob Anderson as Grey Worm. Photo by Helen Sloan/HBO

She added, “Her intelligence is what made Daenerys go, ‘I see you. We need to be friends. We need to be in cahoots.’ I think Missandei absolutely represents that, and that’s why I love playing her.” – Rappler.com

Paolo Abad is a film/television editor and motion graphic designer. He is also a self-confessed concert junkie. Follow his Instagram for live music @outoftunephoto

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Paolo Abad

Paolo Abad writes, edits, and shoots for a living. He is one of the founding partners of the online radio platform Manila Community Radio.