A Pawn In The Game
Nathalie Emmanuel, who plays Missandei on Game of Thrones, just spoke to HBO’s website about her pivotal role in the latest episode. Warning: spoilers ahead for anyone who hasn’t seen episode four…
HBO: What was your reaction when you discovered Missandei’s fate?
Nathalie Emmanuel: Once I read she was captured in the battle, I knew she was going to be a casualty. A part of me felt like her journey had been cut so short. We meet Missandei as an enslaved person in chains, and then she dies in chains. I really felt the weight and tragedy of that and what that meant — not just in the show, but in the world. It felt like a punch in the gut. I knew it would be the same for people who supported Missandei and connected with her story. I was devastated that that is what happened to her, but was happy with how strong and brave she was right up until the very end.
HBO: How did it feel to see the outpouring of love for Missandei after Season 8, Episode 4 “The Last of the Starks”?
Nathalie Emmanuel: I’m overwhelmed by the response and people’s thoughts and feelings towards Missandei. What’s really hit home for me, more than anything, is how important my being in the show and the representation was to people. I was like: “Wow people love her,” which made me miss her even more.
I came up in this industry and didn’t think that I could ever be that representation for someone, somewhere; it makes me want to weep. I feel really grateful for playing MIssandei and getting to map out this beautiful character and play the beautiful journey of Missandei and Grey Worm. Also, to show a story of two women who love and respect each other, and really hold each other up — every element of Missandei has taught me so much. It’s just one of those life changing roles; I will probably never have this experience again.”
HBO: Missandei’s final message for Daenerys was so powerful. What did you think of Missandei getting her own “Dracarys” moment?
Nathalie Emmanuel: “She came in and went out fighting until the very last moment. It’s a testament to who she is. The moment we meet Missandei (Season 3, Episode 3), Daenerys warns her, “I’m taking you to war. You may go hungry, you may fall sick, you may be killed.” She joined Daenerys knowing that and was prepared to die at some point, and she fulfilled that promise to Daenerys in a way.
“Dracarys” is a callback to earlier seasons, but Missandei is ferocious in that last moment, which is something we’ve never seen before. She still has her dignity intact, in control and brave. Her life of enslavement has taught her to be collected, calm and non-threatening — to be correct and perfect. In that last moment, she’s like: “F**k this. I’m going to yell and be angry,” and that’s amazing. Her rage really came through and that’s something I was happy to see.
HBO: You worked so closely with Emilia Clarke and Jacob Anderson over the series. How did it feel to bring Missandei’s story to a close?
Nathalie Emmanuel: There are so many stories that have to conclude and loose ends that have to get tied up, that Dany and I didn’t get that final scene made it even harder. When I read that scene of Grey Worm and Missandei making plans for the future, I knew that wasn’t going to end well. Part of why Game of Thrones is so good is that is makes you feel the heartbreak and devastation of what could’ve been.
HBO: Fans have watched Missandei and Grey Worm’s relationship grow over all these seasons. What was your favorite scene to film with Jacob?
Nathalie Emmanuel: I’m getting emotional thinking about it. It has to be when Grey Worm sees her bathing and comes and apologizes to her (Season 4 Episode 8). It’s such an amazing little scene. It’s the first time these two acknowledge their pasts and their affection for each other — it’s the start of this very beautiful relationship. I remember shooting the scene, and the tragedy of their lives and pasts is so profound. It was an emotional day on set. That was the start of feeling completely safe and trusting Jacob completely.