Welcome to Lovely Nathalie Emmanuel, the latest online resource dedicated to the talented actress Nathalie Emmanuel. Nathalie is known for her role as Sasha Valentine in UK soap"Hollyoaks" before heading off to America to further her career. She has since starred in the "Fast & Furious", and "Maze Runner", frachises aswell as "Game of Thrones", "Four Weddings and a Funeral", and "Die Hart". This site is online to show our support to the actress Nathalie Emmanuel, as well as giving her fans a chance to get the latest news and images. Enjoy your stay and please visit us again soon.
Nathalie Emmanuel on her new film, The Invitation, trusting your instinct and racial ‘gaslighting’
September 8th, 2022 • admin • 0 comments

The former Games of Thrones actor has risen from Hollyoaks to Hollywood, playing the lead in a female-led horror-thriller film.

From dragons to vampires might not be the most tried and tested trajectory, but Nathalie Emmanuel has made it work, playing heroine Evie in new horror-thriller film, The Invitation. The English actor and model, 33, is best known for playing her Games of Thrones character, Missandei, a former slave who serves as Handmaiden and advisor to Daenerys (played by Emilia Clarke). Soap fans will have known her long before: Nathalie’s television career began in Hollyoaks, where she played the character of Sasha Valentine between 2006 and 2010.

GLAMOUR has interviewed Nathalie several times, most recently back in 2020, where she spoke about her secret shyness and how her Games of Thrones role “pulled her out of a slump” in her acting career. Today, she’s on top of the world – energised and enthusiastic about her recent leading role. We discuss her latest film, the mixed blessing of playing the central role in a horror film (and what she does to “come down” after her working day). Plus, Nathalie explores why horror is such a compelling genre to access the difficult themes of racial and social discrimination (she is of Dominican heritage, through her mother, and Saint-Lucian/English heritage through her father), and the “gaslighting” that surrounds it.

You’re most famous for your recurring role on Game of Thrones, where you were very much part of an ensemble cast. What was it like being at the helm, in The Invitation, playing the main character Evie?

It was a welcome challenge to be honest. The responsibility was a whole other level to what I had previously experienced. I felt like I had been building towards it for many years and finally I got the opportunity to lead a movie. I mean, it was tough, for all the reasons you can imagine. I’m pretty much in like almost every scene, and it was a big undertaking to build and map the character across that much material. There’s just so much more work involved, but I was just incredibly excited to have that opportunity, and it’s an experience I hope to continue to keep doing.

Are you a horror fan yourself, in your spare time?

I wouldn’t say I have a hardcore knowledge about the horror genre, but I’ve always enjoyed horror and thriller movies because it’s such an escapist sort of journey that you get to experience. I know it can be gory and scary at times, but there’s something about the not knowing and the trying to work it out. You’re playing detective. I love how [the viewer] is so interactive while watching a horror. You just have to tell yourself: the blood is not real. Once you’re past that part, you can enjoy the experience. It’s like in comedy, you enjoy the landing of a joke and how it makes you laugh. And I think to an extent you can enjoy the pent-up suspense and then the moment of the scare.

It must be different being inside of it, though. You mentioned you’re in every scene. How do you take off your character and recover at the end of the day, having been in all those intense scenes?

It’s hard, actually. Especially towards the end of the film – in a lot of those scenes, Evie is in a state of survival. She’s trying to escape but she’s trapped, and she’s terrified and traumatised. She’s seen horrific things at this point, she’s realised where she is and how she’s completely at their mercy basically. Playing that trauma or that fear or that terror, it takes its toll. I remember there was one day, I think it was the scene where I’m in the basement, and I was just crying and screaming – just completely in a state for the whole day. Then I had the most terrible headache at the end of the day. I was exhausted and it was hard to shake it off when I got home. I remember finding it quite hard to sleep that night, even though I was so, so tired. At the same time it’s weirdly satisfying to leave it all out there. There’s nothing left at the end of the day. And there’s something cathartic about that. For an actor, it’s quite satisfying. But yeah, it took a minute to shake it off after days like that, but at the same time, the next day you’re shooting something else and you have to click into the space of that scene. So you keep it moving.

Do you have any self care rituals or things that you do when you come home after day filming?

I do. I have a tendency to go over my entire day and my brain’s going at a million miles an hour and I’m like, ‘How did you do that line? Why did you make that choice?’ You know, like recapping that conversation you had. I do this thing when I sort of download the day and go over it a lot. My challenge in the evening is to quiet my mind and relax. To try and come into a more still, quiet space. That’s quite hard for me, but I find it helpful when I move my body. Sometimes I just play music and shake out all of that pent up tension. If you’re connecting with your body, it helps to calm your mind. I also do focused breathing and meditation. But I’m a big fan of nice, hot bath, relaxing with Epsom salts and candles. Just trying to set the scene to rest, relax and recuperate. That’s an important routine for me. I also like an early night, and I really take my bedtime routine seriously – skincare and everything. It’s a way for me to start to relax, de-stress and disconnect from the day.

What kind of music do you listen to to de-stress?

It’s not what you’d expect. I actually like listening to soca music. It’s very high-tempo, very energetic. I have Caribbean and west Indian heritage. So music is something that I immediately connect to. I just want to dance to it. So you’re dancing, and it’s very fast and quick, and you are like, ‘Oh, I’m actually out of breath and tired now.’ I end up completely sweaty and out of breath, but then I’m sleepy. And then I can take my bath before bed. When I’m in the bath, I like to play something a bit more relaxed, a more chilled vibe – I love a good singer songwriter, a bit of India Arie, you know, just something that’s guitar or just very chill.

What was your favourite part of playing Evie, and did you relate to her character?

I loved playing Evie. We have a lot in common: we’re both very close to our mothers. We’re both creatives – and we’ve had that artist’s life. You know, I’ve been very blessed in my career in recent years, but I’ve definitely had times where I was down on myself, really questioning whether I should be doing what I’m doing. Because I’m not getting to do it in the way that I wanted to. You doubt yourself at times. I immediately connected into that part of Evie and seeing her evolution of her realising that her power and her strength is within her already. She just wasn’t aware. I went through a similar thing a number of years ago and I realised how powerful and resilient I am. Because I’m very sensitive and quite introverted. Sometimes when you are naturally that way, you are perceived to not be as strong. And you can internalise that. I’ve definitely had those moments where I have had to reach deep down and pull that strength out. I connected with Evie in that respect. Obviously I haven’t been in the same situation as her, by any means, but there was something I really liked about her. I like that she stands up for herself. Even though she doesn’t always realise the danger she’s in, or she questions her instincts, these are all things that I relate to constantly. Like, wait, something doesn’t feel right. I’ve been in those situations where I feel completely unsure of my own instinct. Her experience, while within this heightened genre, this horror world, is something that we can all relate to. I also got to learn a bit of ceramics [Evie’s character is a ceramicist], which was fun and cool to do. And I always love learning new things. I’m actually looking for a new class to go and try it again.

I want to go back to something you said about trusting your instincts. Could you tell me a time where you had that experience of wondering whether or not you should go with your instincts?

It happens often. What happens is, as you gain more experience in life and as you mature, as you have all these new experiences, you learn to trust your instincts more and more. I’m a very emotional person. When something doesn’t feel right, energetically I can’t shake it. That sensation is enough for me to go, OK, this is making you feel unsettled, your peace is disrupted – so listen to that sensation. For a very long time, when those situations came about, whether it’s professionally making a choice about a project or making a choice about the people around you and the energy that you invite in, I definitely have had situations where I’ve had to make a decision which is difficult and upsetting. But I’m like, there’s something about this that’s not sitting right with me. II feel like with each year I’m getting more and more confident at listening to and trusting that voice and trusting that voice. It’s always a work in progress.

You mentioned you’re an introvert. The premise of the film is that Evie goes to a destination wedding with distant family members who are strangers. Can you imagine yourself doing that?

Not with strangers! I do that with people I know, but the idea of getting on a plane to go to meet strangers on my own in a different country feels dangerous. I think anyone who does that is a braver person than me. I tend to hang out in very small groups and with people I’ve known for a very long time. I have been to some destination weddings though, which were beautiful, but obviously I knew the people getting married and it was a beautiful celebration for them. A destination wedding is such a great idea because you get the wedding and honeymoon in one, but with all your friends and family. So I love the idea – just not a vampire wedding with strangers.

The themes of social class, race and the people who can exploit that are at the centre of the film. Why do you think horror is the right genre to tell this kind of narrative?

I think some of the brutality of those structures just lend themselves very easily to horror, because it’s often where we see a lot of violence, sinister agendas and things like that. The psychological element of this movie is a lesson in gaslighting. Because the whole time, Evie’s really, really unsure. She’s suspicious, but everyone’s telling her it’s fine. At one point, she says, “I’m feel like going crazy”, and they make her feel like that. The psychological element is true, when you think about how race and class and gender and how they all intersect. As someone who comes from a working class background and as a woman of colour, a lot of the time there are micro-aggressions, or those moments where that feel racialised or feel sexist. But it’s not explicit. Something in your system’s going, I don’t know about this… That psychological thriller element, and the horror element, is a great way to talk about some of those things. As a genre in general, it’s a great way to speak to some of those issues because it creates an escapism that makes it more digestible for people. Because sometimes when you talk about it just very directly, people often get defensive or feel like it’s over the top. But I feel like when you put it in an almost fantasy setting, people are able to receive or interact with it a bit easier. That’s very true for this film.

Finally, this film is directed by Jessica Thompson. We know that female directors are notoriously unrepresented in Hollywood. How did it change your experience, being able to be directed by a woman?

It was great! We had such an amazing, female led team. Jessica at our helm, and then Autumn Eakin who was our director of photography, and Nora Robertson who was our hair and makeup designer. There was a great female presence, and all in that horror space – a genre where women are highly underrepresented. Jessica is so smart. She knows what she wants, but she also gave us a lot of freedom to play. She trusted us a lot with our characters, and I enjoyed that. There was a feminist thread throughout this film, and she just wanted to invert a lot of tropes that are placed on women in film.

Could you tell me more about the feminine tropes that Jessica Thompson wanted to invert?

Well, she was very sure to not objectify Evie and make her a sexual object. She wanted her to have agency, like in her pursuit of the character Walt. She wasn’t chased – she was very much engaged and interested, and I’m going to let you know it. Often in film – as in life – it’s like the guy has to pursue you. But she very much had agency in her front-footed pursuit of Walt. Even though she was obviously being highly manipulated the entire time, she always had an agency about her that you don’t see all the time. And I think we’re seeing that more and more. Evie isn’t an old-fashioned damsel in distress. She’s very much her own hero, and in the end she’s her own saviour.

The Invitation was released in the UK in cinemas on 26 August. [Source]

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