Sitting around at home one night last July, Nathalie Emmanuel got the shock of her life.
A true “Game of Thrones” fan, the British actress had only recently nabbed the part of translator Missandei (she fits in Daenerys Targaryen’s storyline), when her Twitter feed lit up about the casting news – news she had made a pledge to herself to keep secret.
“I was just literally at home, in my pajamas just watching TV and then my Twitter just went mad. [It] was like, ‘Oh my God! Missandei! Missandei!’ I hadn’t told anybody and I started freaking out because I had made a decision to keep it to myself,” Nathalie told AccessHollywood.com in a new interview — the third in Access’ Countdown to Season 3 of “Game of Thrones.”
“I was like, ‘Why does everyone know that? That’s so bad, I’m gonna get in trouble,’” she continued of her panic. “And then, one of my Twitter followers sent me the link to YouTube of [the casting being announced at] Comic-Con and I went, ‘Oh gosh! Thank God for that!’ — because I thought someone had let the cat out of the bag!”
Now, with Season 3 set to premiere on March 31, Nathalie can fully share her exctiment over being part of the series.
“It was amazing! I’m such a fan of the show, like, it’s a little bit insane,” the actress laughed. “By the way. I’m a bit of a ‘Throny’ as I think the ‘Game of Thrones’ fans refer to themselves.”
In our interview with the new “GOT” star, Nathalie shared her enthusiasm over joining the show, recounted her fist meeting with Emilia Clarke and explained what Beyonce has to do with Daenerys.
AccessHollywood.com: How did you end up joining the series?
Nathalie Emmanuel: I just saw the breakdown for it on [a casting site]… I e-mailed my agent like, ‘Oh my God! There’s a part in ‘Game of Thrones’ that I could actually go for… It’s my favorite show! Please! I really want to do it.’ She’s like, ‘You know what Nathalie? I’ve already sent you over for it and we’re waiting to get a casting date.’ I was so excited… I think it was about a week later I went to the audition [with Nina Gold’s office] and I auditioned with [casting director] Robert Sterne. He put me on tape and then I didn’t hear anything for weeks… To be honest, I kind of forgot about it, ‘cause usually over here, if you don’t hear anything within a week or a couple of weeks at most, you assume you didn’t get it. Then, one day, I was coming into my house and I had like five bags of shopping – I’d been to the supermarket — and my agent rang, and she was like, ‘Oh, by the way, you got it.’ I was like, ‘Got what?’ She’s like, ‘Game of Thrones.’ I [said], ‘Don’t lie!’ She went, ‘No, I’m serious!’ And I just literally dropped my shopping and broke a jar or something… It was hysterical because I’m such a fan of the show… It was the best moment ever.
Access: What was your first meeting like with Emilia Clarke, who plays Daenerys?
Nathalie: She was my favorite character on the show. For me, it was always kind of like Daenerys or Tyrion. Watching it as a fan, I loved their storylines and their characters, so I was so excited. I hadn’t read the books at this point, and I spoke to my friend who had read the books and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh! That’s Daenerys’ storyline.’ I couldn’t believe it. The audition scene [was] with Daenerys as well, but I didn’t know much about the character… But it was so exciting. I first met Emilia at the read-through in Belfast… and we sat next to each other and I was like, ‘Oh, hello. I’m Nathalie.’ And she was so sweet. She kind of took me under her wing a little bit and was lovely.
Access: Fans want to know if the actors have read the books. Is it important to read them for you, or not read them as an actor, so you can play the part [as written]?
Nathalie: I read sort of up to where the storyline kind of [fits in] with the season… I thought it was important for me to familiarize myself with [the world, and] also to have a mental image of everything — to be able to place myself in that world because it’s hard to do that if you haven’t got any reference to it at all. So for me, just as Missandei – she’s in Astapor… I found it really important to know where she came from… I haven’t read all the books. I’m still reading. I didn’t want to go too far ahead because I didn’t want anything that I read to influence her now… I’m pacing myself with the seasons, I think (laughs).
Access: It could influence your acting choices if you knew too much, I think is the theory.
Nathalie: You could play something slightly differently because you have certain knowledge of what’s coming. The books are fantastic. I have struggled to put them down. I’ve got them all. I finished one and I’m like, ‘No! Don’t pick up the next one.’ I want to read it and know what happens, but I wanted to pace myself with the seasons just in case anything [that] happens in the future doesn’t affect my performance of Missadei now.
Access: For those who haven’t read the books, who is Missandei as we meet her in the series?
Nathalie: Well, she’s a squire, she’s a translator, she’s a handmaiden, she’s kind of a servant… But she’s extremely intelligent, which is probably unusual for someone from her background. She’s extremely gifted with language… She’s a really gifted translator… She’s kind of almost above a servant, if you like, in terms of her abilities. But she, under no circumstances, thinks herself above anybody. She knows her place and she is extremely obedient in every sense (laughs). She doesn’t really have an opinion… unless it was asked for… She’s extremely subservient and she’s almost like a bit of nerd in a sense — that she’ll just give you the correct answer when it’s asked. That’s kind of who she is and that’s just coming from the slave background… It’s a case of survival. You don’t want to do anything that’s going to get you into trouble.
Access: How do find your character fitting into the series?
Nathalie: She’s from Astapor and she encounters Daenerys when Daenerys visits Astapor.
Access: Dany’s last two female friends didn’t fare very well. One was strangled and the other one was shoved into a vault and left for dead. Are you worried about your fate at all?
Nathalie: ‘Game of Thrones’ does have an extremely high death rate… I genuinely haven’t thought about it. The fact that I’ve done one season is just fantastic in itself. I could walk away tomorrow and be absolutely over the moon. But, I don’t know. It depends what happens in the storyline.
Access: Back to working with Emilia – did you bond on set?
Nathalie: We did bond quite a bit on set actually (laughs)… ‘cause we’re both a little bit obsessed with Beyonce, so we were just basically applying Beyonce songs to the scenes that we were doing, as like the soundtrack of the scene. That was quite a funny thing that we did. We’d be like, ‘Right, what Beyonce song is going to this scene?’ We had a giggle with that and I think Daenerys has a lot of Beyonce songs actually [that can] like be her theme song ‘cause she’s so ‘girl power,’ like ‘Run the World’ kind of vibe. That was kind of a favorite (laughs).
Access: Would you include Destiny’s Child songs as well?
Nathalie: Oh yeah! ‘Independent Women,’ and all different ones… I think ‘Diva’ came up. Yeah, ‘Diva’ was a favorite because Daenerys is definitely a diva. I think the lyric goes, ‘a diva is a female version of a hustler,’ and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, Daenerys. Definitely!’
“Game of Thrones” Season 3 premieres on HBO on March 31 at 9 PM.
-- Jolie Lash