Nathalie Emmanuel talks about Missandei: ‘She believes in her queen’

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SPOILERS for Game of Thrones.

Nathalie Emmanuel played Missandei for five seasons. She was added to the cast in Season 3, when Daenerys bought her and the Unsullied Army, all of whom were slaves. Dany freed the Unsullied and she freed Missandei immediately, and Missandei became one of Dany’s most trusted advisors and friends. Missandei is being called “the most unproblematic sis” of GoT and it’s true – Missandei was just a good person, she was loyal to her Queen, she brought out the sweet, girlish side of Dany, and Missandei fell in love with a eunuch warrior named Grey Worm and their dream was “going to the beach together” when all this sh-t was over. She was also the only black woman on the show. And the Mountain beheaded her, on Cersei’s order, in front of Dany and Grey Worm. Cersei wants Dany emotional and coming in hot. I get that. But it was hard to watch Missandei used as plot device to make Dany go even more “mad.” And Missandei’s tragic last word – “Dracarys” – sounded strangled and weak. No dragon would save her. Instead, it was a cry for Grey Worm and Dany to avenge her, to burn them all, if you will.

Nathalie spoke to Entertainment Weekly about the death of Missandei and how she felt about all of it. This interview took place before she even shot it!

Jacob Anderson (Grey Worm) on Missandei’s death: “I found it heartbreaking for a number of reasons. There’s like a cruel inevitability in this show where anybody who finds that happiness is going to have to watch that taken away from them. So I thought either Grey Worm or Missandei, that one would be taken from another. I honestly thought Grey Worm was gone in that episode. And I even had that thought: ‘Take me!’ She’s come through so much s—t that she’s had to deal with her life. As soon as it looks like they’re about to enjoy it, it all gets snatched away. So I didn’t expect it and I had to lay down the script for a bit.”

Nathalie’s reaction to the script: “That I can’t believe I’m reading the last ever GoT scripts. I was on a flight coming back from New York as I opened it and I was about halfway through it and this is like the last first episode I’m going to read that that was pretty emotional, really. A lot of people ask when you read scripts do you read forward to see if you survive or not, and I didn’t. I just wanted the story to wash over me.

Whether Missandei had any doubts about Dany: “It’s hard to know from my character’s point of view because she does see many of those questionable moments. She would have heard about certain things going on. I do think Missandei is so loyal to Dany because she liberated her and gave her the respect she deserves. They have a really strong friendship. Missandei would probably have justified some of Dany’s actions.

What she thinks of Missandei’s death scene: “I thought it was a fantastic scene. I’ve said in so many interviews that I don’t mind if I die I’m just happy to be here and be a part of the show. But I just wanted it to be really cool and a moment that people remember and I feel like they really give me that moment and I’m excited to shoot it. It’s going to be really emotional and she’s so brave in it and shows her strength and fearlessness even though she doesn’t wield a sword. She believes in her queen and believes in her cause. I’m so happy that she has that kind of exit. It’s emotional. She said she was willing to lay down her life but we hoped she wouldn’t have to. You can watch the end of a show and think the character is living on to do whatever. But there’s a real sadness to the fact that the character won’t. It seems likely to push Daenerys to a scary level.

Whether she blames Grey Worm: “She doesn’t blame Grey Worm. He was trying to keep her safe.

What she wishes she could have done as Missandei: “I would have loved to see Missandei fighting. I think that’s just me projecting onto her that I want to see her being a badass with a sword or bow and arrow. I feel like a bow and arrow would be her thing as it’s super specific and requires a lot of skill. I guess I was relieved to not be doing 11 weeks of night shoots but there’s a part of me that’s a little sad Missandei didn’t throw down in the battle.

Her favorite scenes: “I do think my last scene will be a real moment. It’s probably my favorite scene that I’ve read. My favorite scene I’ve ever done — there’s so many — was when Grey Worm comes to her after he saw her bathing and they have this exchange and it’s emotional and amazing. It’s always really cool when you’re challenged as an actress to play those subtle things … If she lived, I think they would have gone back to her home. They would have lived happily ever after.”

[From EW]

The scenes between Missandei and Grey Worm were always amazing – the two actors have such chemistry, and there was always so much tenderness between them. It was beautiful that within this dragon, fire and power-mad story, there was such a kind, easy, sweet romance. All she wanted to do was go to the beach!! And Dany loved Missandei too, and now Dany is going to try to burn it all down. Dracarys motherf–kers.

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Photos courtesy of HBO/Game of Thrones.

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21 Responses to “Nathalie Emmanuel talks about Missandei: ‘She believes in her queen’”

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  1. Dttimes2 says:

    I couldnt believe she didn’t leap sideways and knock Cersei off her perch. I mean you know you’re going to die at least take out the real Mad Queen with you.

    And is Euron so stupid he didnt figure to ask how Tyrion knew about a baby when he had been gone for so long, but the baby had just supposedly been conceived with Euron?

    I sobbed when Rhaegal died and the look on Ghost’s face when Jon sent him away.

    And ugh Sansa seriously you kept the secret what 10 minutes??? And Arya breaking Gendrys heart and Jamie breaking Briennes **Sob**

    • Alyse says:

      I’m a bit confused, and a tiny bit upset, about Arya going on to Jon about being a Stark, then she leaves with the Hound saying she’s not returning to the North?!? I knew she’d go south but I never thought she’d abandon Sansa and Jon. Bran I can understand, he’s a robot! I foresaw her by Sansa’s side, helping her. Bah

      • Turtledove says:

        “I knew she’d go south but I never thought she’d abandon Sansa and Jon. Bran I can understand, he’s a robot! I foresaw her by Sansa’s side, helping her. Bah”

        I saw that as them both planning to go in…and do what needs to be done…knowing it may kill them, and not hoping for more. So, not meant to be telling each other their plans for the future, as much as acknowledging that their separate tasks are both life-threatening and they don’t care.

    • Lory says:

      Sansa doesn’t pinky swear on a promiss. She saw an opportunity to weaken Dany’s hold over Tyrion and she took it. She gave him another option for the throne and she would know that, like Varys said, if this piece of information gets spread around it will weaken Dany’s claim among the Westerosi.

    • NotSoSocialButterfly says:

      Also, why TF didn’t Dany approach the iron fleet from behind, and burn TF out of them? They would have been sitting ducks, unable to turn quickly enough to use giant crossbows before they were torched. Another nod to her lack of battle/ commanding skills. She’s going down, and Jon will command the last dragon.

      • Lady D says:

        I was yelling the same thing at the TV last night. Get behind them and burn them.

      • SK says:

        Because they ambushed her. It wasn’t clear to me at first but then I realised. She was coming back to Dragonstone and it seemed clear. They were hiding around a corner waiting in ambush. She had no idea they were there.

        Although, I also think she’s a terrible general who doesn’t listen to good advice. I know they needed to hurry the show up; but the smart play was to rest her dragons and her soldiers. Let them heal, recuperate and recover. It was to consolidate and build more support throughout the realm. The smart play was to wait Cersei out! Cersei is extremely unpopular and has no real legitimacy as Queen. Her people are starving – we know that. She is paying a force to fight for her at enormous expense. The longer they waited her out, the less likely it was that she could continue to afford them. An unpopular monarch in a ravaged region who can’t afford to feed her people and cannot long afford her soldiers… Sansa was right. Rest your troops Dany, and wait Cersei out! She would be mad to try and invade the north and a small force could keep her out at the Twins. In the meantime, play her game. Send in spies, send in assassins, check the lay of the land, be careful because she is sneaky. Work on a well-planned strategy that you can execute perfectly.

        Rushing in half-cocked with an exhausted and depleted force against a fresh force and a slapped together plan is just so stupid! Her dragon was vulnerable and injured and she knew they had dragon weapons. What was she thinking??

      • Turtledove says:

        I agree 100%. I think it is lame that we are meant to believe that despite the fact that she was in the air, she didn’t SEE those ships before they were close enough to attack. And even more lame is the fact that she didn’t just fly around and hit them with fire from behind.

        They show her flying at them all ragey….and then she backs off in frustration because spears…………….so, what? She very much wants to kill them and doesn’t think to go BEHIND them? It just makes no sense.

  2. LoonyTunes says:

    Slightly off topic, but in a fictional world, why did the black and brown people have to be the slaves?

    • Anon says:

      Probably because it was written by an older white man.

    • Alyse says:

      that’s just how GRR martin wrote it. Westeros has no slaves and is historically all white, Essos still has slavery and people have darker skin colour. Westeros is supposed to be like the medievil Britain/Western Europe and Essos is basically to the east and south of Europe. The storyline setting is all George, although the last few seasons it’s been the showrunners.

    • aiobhan says:

      They aren’t in the books. They are a mixture of different races.

      On the show. I think they just used the locals where they were shooting and did not give a thought to the optics. Doesn’t excuse their tone deafness at all. That is usually how casual racism works.

  3. Abby says:

    i wont get to see that gorgeous man of hair no more,crying deep inside

  4. DS9 says:

    I’m upset they really never gave her much to do. And I don’t ascribe to the common narrative that she was an advisor. Dany doesn’t really listen and her advisors do not have much freedom to disagree with her.

    Missandei was a deadend character. I’m sad she’s gone and sad she went like this. But what else was she doing? Nothing.

  5. Lucy says:

    Still not over this. The final scene made me feel physically sick, for real. Both her and Jacob were fantastic in it, though. Thank you, Natalie. Rest easy, Missandei <3

  6. Caity says:

    I thought missandei’s “dracarys” was powerful. Dracarys is the word that freed her from being a slave. She might have been in chains but she died a free woman.
    Dany will lose it though. She will definitely burn it down.

    • megs283 says:

      I agree, I didn’t find it strangled, I found it to be bold and a rallying cry for Dany and Grey Worm.

  7. Loretta says:

    Missandei death was awful. The sole purpose of it is to drive Dany crazy or otherwise make her lose control. Terible.
    And I’m with Dany: burns everything and everyone.
    I can’t believe that D&D ruined the show and the characters up to this point.
    Daenerys is maybe the most iconic character of this show, she deserved better

    • Char says:

      At this point, after keeping it contrived for all this seasons on the advice of stupid men and seeing her claim threatened by a stupid man, I won’t blame Daenarys if she goes “crazy” and burn it all. She should’ve done it with three dragons and seasons ago.

  8. Marty says:

    Is it really madness when you give someone a chance to surrender and they kill your best friend instead? I mean burn it all down seems pretty reasonable to me.

  9. Penguen says:

    I feel like I’m often paying so much attention to what’s going on in GOT that I don’t get a chance to notice how beautiful Nathalie is.

    To be fair, every time she’s been on screen this season I’ve been practically hiding my eyes out of fear that Missandei was going to get killed. I liked her.