nathalie Emmanuel

Missandei and Ser Jorah 

Author: Holger Potye
Image Above: MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images

Iain Glen plays Ser Jorah Mormont, former friend and adviser to Daenerys Targaryen. He fell from grace at the end of season 4 and was banned from Daenery’s entourage. Nathalie Emmanuel is Missandei, former ex-slave and now translator, adviser and BFF to dragon queen Daenerys Targaryen.

THE RED BULLETIN: So what happens to you in the new season?

IAIN GLEN: Obviously the last beat for Ser Jorah in season 4 was being exiled once again from the one he loves. So my journey through the new season is completely different, which has been really enjoyable to play. I go on a quest to try and get back into her good graces, which proves incredibly difficult. It is also a very physical season for Ser Jorah. There is a great deal of armed combat within his journey and I enjoy doing all that stuff.

Nathalie you are in the main cast in season 5 for the first time. How does that feel?

NATHALIE EMMANNUEL: So amazing. Definitely unexpected. Just because Missandei, when I first saw the breakdown for her role, it was very vague. Something like, 3-5 episodes, possibly recurring in other seasons. Her future was not certain at all. The fact that I now shot a third season as a regular, that is just overwhelming and really something I am excited about. Obviously it is such a good show. I love working here and I have got really great material.

Can you tell us anything about that material, about the evolution of her character?

NE: We took Meereen at the end of season 4 and Daenerys has said she is going to rule Meereen, so that’s what we have been doing. Missandei is kind of growing in her role as advisor, and their friendship is a lot more important. The support that Missandei gives Daenerys in her role as queen is also much more important because it is not proving to be easy to rule Meereen. She has got all these people around her, telling her different things and it is hard to work out what is the right thing and what serves people. And she actually is turning to Missandei for advice, which is something that Missandei is not used to giving. That is pretty much kind of where we are in season 5 with their relationship. Emilia is just a sweetheart, so that was really fun to play.  And I suppose it kind of plays on a bit with Greyworm, this exploration of having human emotion and opinion and then saying it out loud is something that is all part of Missandei’s transition from slaved person to free person.

Missandei is kind of a translator. Did you really learn all these languages over the last few seasons or did you just learn your phrases off by heart?

NE: I would love to say that I learned the whole language. And I kind of would love to, because I am so fascinated by it.

IG: Is there a complete language?

NE: I think so. From what I understand, I think our producers David (Benioff) and Dan (Weiss) were telling me, that they went to a linguist society and said: “We are making a language for a tv show based on these books!” And everyone put in their ideas. But I have spoken with him a couple of times and people ask him questions, like phrases: “How do you say this in Dothraki? Or how do you say this in Valyrian?” And he is like: “Hang on, I haven’t made up that word yet.” But he will eventually. There is a formula as to how to say that word based on a word that is already made up. It is not just like: “Oh, I am going to call it this.” There is a real formula to it and a real structure. What happens is, he sends me these lines in English what they want me to say, and then he’ll send it in Valyrian.

IG: With the recording on how to pronounce it?

NE: Yeah, he says it, how it is supposed to be said, like fluently.

IG: With quite an american accent. (Laughs.)

NE:  With a little bit of an American accent. (laughs.) And then he records it syllable by syllable and then I have write it down phonetically, too. So that’s kind of how I learn it. But as the season has gone on, I have definitely sort of picked up things and recognize words. I can learn it much faster now because it has a rhythm and a formula to it.

So when you have a line or a sentence in Dothrakian, you know what you are saying?

NE: I can pretty much work it out now. But sometimes they tell us as well. Especially if you are doing something that’s emotional. It is good from an acting point of view to know what word is what, to place emphasis on it. When I did season 3, I spent a lot of time with the actor who played Kraznys (mo Nakloz) on this. Once I knew what he was saying, it felt much more natural. It’s challenging because it is not a real language, so there is no point of reference.

Game of Thrones

How will Missandei’s relationship with Greyworm develop in Season 5? 

© HBO

Iain, the show is known for its uncompromising portrayal of sex and violence. Do you think it is important that it is unflinching? And do you ever worry that it might be going over the top?

IG: I don’t worry about it going over the top. It is part of trying to create this plausible piece of imagined history, and I think most people who watch the series have a feeling that it could have happened at that time. The politics could have been practiced in that way. The sort of divide between the various dynasties could have manifested itself in that way. It is just trying to be honest about that without being sacrilegious. And I also think the flipside of it is, that within the same series you have these incredible love stories unfolding as well. I think that is part of the attraction of the series. I think it’s all a really rich concoction.  

NE: I think as well, it is a show for adults. If you take that away, sort of hide that side of it, you are almost undermining the intelligence of the audience, assuming that they can’t take that. I think it brings a real authenticity to it. Otherwise it would be a completely different show.

IG: There is something inherently not politically correct about it. I mean Peter (Dinklage) as a dwarf gets kicked around in the entire series. But, I think when it is right, people love things that aren’t PC. Breaking Bad wasn’t PC. You get a complex set of emotions out of these types of series.

NE: The reality of life is: Not everyone is all good and not everyone is all bad. The human condition has so many complex levels. To hide the gory or scary or sexy bits is boring.

“If it were up to me, I’d leave the show by having a major heart attack while making love to Daenerys.”
Iain Glen
iain glen

Actor Iain Glen plays Ser Jorah Moront, former friend and adviser to Daenerys Targaryen on Game of Thrones.

© Frederic Nebinger/WireImage

Do you guys watch the show at home and are you able to enjoy it?

NE: I love it. I was a bit of a hardcore fan already before I was on the show. It is a whole new thing for me, because I know a lot of the cast now and you get excited for them when they do great performances. The most amazing part is to have excited discussions of the work we have done with people watching the show.

Is there anything you learned about yourself through playing your characters?

IG: Well, I found out that I really, really enjoy armed combat. It is a good skill to acquire. After a really physically exhausting day you feel like you really deserve your glass of wine at the end of the day.

Are you guys constantly worried about receiving a script with your death scene in it?

IG: Yes. I mean you are not constantly worried, but you are definitely aware of it.  I am really very, very grateful and appreciative of having been in it for as long as I have, and being a part of it. So it is a mixture of emotions. And they are very good writers, and I trust them, so if it is time for me to go, it is time for me to go. 

So how would you like to say “Goodbye” on the show?

IG: If it were up to me, I’d have a major heart attack while making love to Daenerys. (Laughs.) But I guarantee, whatever it is, it won’t be what we have imagined.

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