When you hear the name of Nathalie Emmanuel, it’s easy to think of Game of Thrones. Playing Missandei in the hit HBO series absolutely pushed her into stardom and made her a household name. And with House of the Dragon, the prequel to Game of Thrones, just premiering, it feels like perfect timing that Remezcla got a chance to speak with Emmanuel about her latest project, The Invitation.
At first glance, and if you get a chance to watch the trailer for The Invitation, things seem pretty straightforward. Emmanuel plays Evie, a young woman who gets a DNA test done as a means of finding family after losing the last bit she had. That leads her on a whirlwind adventure to England, where she reconnects with long-lost relatives, stays in an oddly charming and creepy house, and falls for a seemingly terrifying man who initially seems like a dreamboat.
For Emmanuel, joining The Invitation was a no-brainer, especially when you consider that horror movies have taught us that if you’re POC, you’re going to die first. That doesn’t happen here. “It was great to play a character who is POC and going, “Not today.” This is especially true for Emmanuel because she looked at the experiences in the movie and asked herself, “Would I do this?” The answer is no, especially as a woman of color.
“There’s so many of this that are like your lived experience. And you’re like, “You know what? It’s not even worth it. I’m not gonna go into that dark corridor. I’m not gonna walk not that dark forest.” And Emmanuel let those lessons. that she has been taught in life, guide her in playing a character that is searching for belonging while still playing the final girl that kicks ass and survives.
The Invitation is also a movie about not judging a book by its cover. Playing opposite Emmanuel is Thomas Doherty, who plays Walt. He sweeps Evie off her feet and lures her into a situation she fights tooth and nail to free herself from when all is revealed. “That beautiful, beautiful man turned out to be the literal worst,” Emmanuel said about Walt, “I think it’s a lesson in don’t judge a book by its cover. The most charming and smart man could be the most dangerous, brutal thing you’ve ever seen.”
And Emmanuel couldn’t play at Evie’s strength, resilience, and shock at the conspiracy surrounding her without the help of Doherty, who she adores. “Thomas was such a joy. He’s such a sweet man, so talented.” And it was his ability to “switch out of this kind of dreamy charming guy and then playing those seeds of a slightly sinister and dangerous monster” that made Emmanuel comfortable in her role and the bond these two characters were building throughout the story.
While talking about The Invitation, we couldn’t help but wonder what Emmanuel would like to see this character do next; because a final girl’s job is never truly done. And when we suggested that Evie’s prowess and strength would be perfect for a vampire hunter-like role, Emmanuel was 100% down with that idea. “I mean, I would love that. Wouldn’t that be so cool? I mean, I was a huge fan of Buffy. So the idea of like a brown girl vampire killer, I’m like, “Yes, let’s do that.” That would be so much fun.”
With what we saw of Emmanuel in The Invitation and the journey she took Evie on, the possibilities are endless. But this one, where we see Emmanuel playing a vampire hunter, is by far our favorite.
The Invitation, starring Nathalie Emmanuel, is now playing in theaters.