There’s no denying that “Game of Thrones” actress Nathalie Emmanuel is beloved by her fans.
As you might remember, those exact fans rallied behind her just a year ago when the series killed off her character Missandei in the final season. At the time, Missandei (who had come so far from her days as a slave in the series) saw her end when she was put back in chains and had her head chopped off. The death sparked a backlash that lambasted the series for maintaining its racial blind spots and doing Emmanuel’s character dirty. At the time, even Emmanuel’s co-star Emilia Clarke (Daenerys) reacted poorly to the death. Clarke who had previously admitted to having a close friendship with Emmanuel told Entertainment Weekly that she was shocked “because it comes out of f—king nowhere… I’m flabbergasted. Absolutely never saw that coming.”
So it’s no surprise that when speaking with British Vogue in a recent interview, Emmanuel shared an empowering anecdote that happened between her and Clarke.
Speaking about her experiences making the HBO hit, Emmanuel recalled an instance when Clarke defended her after a male colleague commented on her “revealing” costume.
“In my first season, my costume was pretty revealing and there was an incident with a supporting actor who made a comment about it on set,” she told British Vogue. “I mean, typical — and Emilia straightaway had my back. It got handled.”
Emmanuel went onto add that she instantly connected with Clarke on the “male-dominated set” when she came on in its third season.
“Emilia and I got on like a house on fire from the beginning,” she continued. “When I joined the cast, she had already been shooting ‘Game of Thrones’ for a few years, and she was definitely ready to have some female energy around her. She and I always looked out for each other… If you’re the only girls on a male-dominated set, it bonds you in a certain way.”
In a separate interview in 2019, Emmanuel described her relationship with Clarke as one filled with learning and love.
“Emilia, as a friend and colleague, is just such a joy,” Emmanuel said during the interview. “I really have thoroughly loved working with her. I loved learning from her. And we just check in with each other every so often.”
“She’s such a beast. As a woman, she really picks herself up and keeps going,” she added. “She’s really inspiring, I’m so proud of her.”
Speaking about the death of her GOT character, Emmanuel, who now stars in “Four Weddings and Funeral,” said fan reactions to her character’s death was important to her.
“It definitely caused me to reflect a lot more — about race and diversity more generally,” Emmanuel explained. “At the end of the day, if there’s ever a show on the level of ‘Game of Thrones’ again, representation has to be part of the conversation from the beginning. That way, there’s no single person who has to represent every other person of color.”
Speaking about being a character of color, Emmanuel said that “It’s a conversation I used to have a lot with Jacob [Anderson], who played Grey Worm, the only other major non-white character in the series. We were always really conscious of how much our being part of ‘Game of Thrones’ mattered to people. It made us really protective of Missandei and Grey Worm.”
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