Nathalie Emmanuel knows exactly what she wants, which shouldn't surprise anyone, since she's made a name for herself playing women who do not mess around. While many of us know the star's face from her role as Missandei on Game Of Thrones, she's equally iconic in the action movie world thanks to her work as Ramsey in the Fast And Furious movies. Emmanuel joined the cast of the iconic franchise back in 2015 for Furious 7, and returns this year for the eighth film in the series, The Fate of the Furious.
Refinery29 spoke to the actress about how things have changed for her in the upcoming movie, and why she has such an attraction to action movies (and shows) featuring powerhouse women.
What was it like being back with the team again?
"It’s always such a pleasure, you know, everyone’s so sweet and we just have a lot of fun together. It was really, really nice to see everyone and catch up and also just keep making these incredibly exciting films. It was really fun."
How did your experience with this film compare with the last one? How have things changed?
"My introduction into these movies was really explosive and it required a lot more physical activity. This movie’s a little bit more, like, she’s doing what she knows how to do best, which is use her computer skills to help figure out what’s going on with Dom. There is a lot of excitement and the car chases and the sort of crazy stuff but in terms of actual stuff that I was involved in, it was much less than the last movie. But really it’s just about chasing Dom down and trying to find out what has gone on with him. In terms of the physical activity, the physical stunt work, it was much less this year. But, you know, she’s sort of in her element this year doing what she does best and that is trying to find footprints and try to figure out what’s happening. She’s very integral."
Is that something that attracted you to the character initially? This skill that she has?
"Absolutely. I think that there’s this real stigma about women in technology, and industries that surround technology. And I love the fact that this is a girl who is exceptional at what she does, is really smart and intelligent, and I think she breaks any stereotypes of the type of person you would imagine in that kind of work. So I really was thrilled to play a smart, very capable young woman. But also, she has interests that people wouldn’t necessarily apply to her because she’s a woman."
"I definitely like to play smart women who have their own agency."
Is that something when you’re accepting or auditioning for roles that you look out for?
"I definitely like to play smart women who have their own agency, and I definitely look for those kinds of roles. But obviously, when you’re looking at any roles, I’m always looking for variety as well. I wouldn’t not take a role if it wasn’t that, but I’m definitely attracted to playing strong, intelligent women. Ramsey absolutely embodies that."
Was it intimidating to enter into such a huge franchise?
"Oh, of course it was. I have been a fan of every single person on these movies for a really long time, within the franchise but also within their own individual projects. Everyone else’s work was something that I’d always watched and been a fan of, so it was really, really intimidating to come into that already well-established family but also people who I really admired. It was really exciting but also I was really nervous. It’s like being the new kid at school.
"I just came in with a professional head and pretty much straight away I realised I was amongst friends. They really welcomed me in and were really sweet. All of the guys were really great at making sure I was a part of the family, like, ‘You’re here now so you’re one of us.’ It’s one thing to be cool with someone on set and make them feel welcome, but every person really made an effort to hang out with me off set and make sure I was okay. I was away from home for the first time really, for a long period of time working on a job in another country. Vin was amazing, and included me in his family gatherings, which he really didn’t have to do. Tyrese, he’s another one who really likes to bring people together, he very much included me in that. I was really so grateful to everybody and I felt like I fit right in. I was really lucky."
What kinds of things did you all do together?
"They often had gatherings at somebody’s house, like I remember when we were filming 7 in Atlanta and there was a fight on and we all went round to someone’s house to watch it, that type of thing, going to dinners, celebrating people’s birthdays, the things that everyone does with their friends."
Is there a moment in this film, compared to the last one, that you’re really excited for people to see? What makes this one stand out?
"As you can see from the trailers, you can see how explosive and huge it is. It’s not any small venture. It’s really exciting, and adrenaline junkies, car addicts, they’ll all be satisfied. These movies are like superhero movies but we don’t have super powers or capes."
A lot of your work is very intense, is that what you like?
"It’s always a lot of fun. I know that at this point in my career I’m definitely looking for intimate movies that are character-driven storytelling of everyday people. Don’t get me wrong, the Fast And Furious movies and Game of Thrones, they’re all very character driven, and we’re very invested in those characters, but because they’re such huge, explosive productions, I am definitely, in terms of my challenge as an actress, I’m definitely looking for something that’s a little bit more intimate and will stretch me in different ways than I’m used to. As much as I’m obviously attracted to those fun action stunt films and projects, I’m also looking for quieter, intimate movies too."