Returning for the penultimate season of Game of Thrones, Nathalie Emmanuel plays Missandei, a slave girl turned consigliere for the Mother of Dragons (aka Emilia Clarke).
Imagine our surprise to discover, then, that the 28-year-old is friendly, approachable, and imminently down for a nice cup of tea.
Men's Fitness: Game of Thrones’ Season 7 has been cloaked in secrecy. What can you tell us about your character, Missandei?
Nathalie Emmanuel: The stakes are getting higher. Her role as adviser is getting more important and serious in terms of the progression to the Iron Throne of Daenerys [Clarke]. And if there’s a war, there are implications for her personally because of her connection with Grey Worm [Jacob Anderson], the leader of the Unsullied.
Grey Worm is Missandei’s eunuch-warrior boyfriend. What’s the key to pulling off a love relationship with a guy who’s all zucchini and no potatoes?
I don’t really know the answer to that. Their relationship is, uh...they have human intimacy. Their relationship is unexpected for both of them. They’re also navigating this life of freedom, which creates a bond. They definitely have a connection that’s beyond physical. That makes it truer, more pure in a way.
Your character is tough, together, incredibly internal. How often do people think you’re going to be like that in reality?
I’ve had people say, “You’re much nicer and warmer in person than Missandei.” But I don’t wear my heart on my sleeve. That’s how you have to be in this industry.
GoT fans can be obsessive. Does that get weird?
I’m very happy to meet people, but they can forget boundaries—and that they’re talking to a complete stranger—just because they know your face.
"A guy who's funny is always attractive. And a guy who's intelligent, too."
There was a story floating around the Internet that some guy in a club sent you 12 bottles of Dom Perignon, and that you rejected them.
That literally did not happen. First of all, I don’t really drink. The public reaction, though, was one of two things. Some people applauded me for not taking extravagant gifts: “She can’t be bought.” Other people thought I was being disrespectful to a fan. But if this had happened, I would‘ve said, “Don’t worry about the champagne, but nice to meet you. And what’s your name?”
So the way to your heart isn’t to send you £35,000 of champagne?
Sending me anything extravagant is not the way. Let’s have a chat and a cup of tea, we’ll be fine. [Laughs]
In the Fast and Furious films it’s become a running joke that Ludacris’ and Tyrese’s characters are vying for your affection. Which one of those guys is more your type: the brainiac or the goofball?
That’s a hard one. A guy who’s funny is always attractive. And a guy who’s intelligent is always attractive. Each of them has a good dose of those things. But if I were choosing for Ramsey, she’d choose Tej [Ludacris]!
Has being in GoT and the Fast franchise—two massive projects—changed your life?
My mum will still tell me off.
Game of Thrones Season 7 premieres July 16 on HBO at 9 p.m. ET.