So Emilia, what is it like to be the most loved Game of Thrones character—everyone wants to marry you?
Oh I don’t know about that!
Were you prepared for the amount of popularity that you have gained through the show?
No, none whatsoever. And because of the fact that I wear the wig, I look very, very different. So I have an incredibly normal life in terms of not really getting recognised very much. I’ve had six years to adjust to sort of take on board what the show has done for me personally and what it is doing everywhere and that I’m incredibly fortunate… but I had no idea is the short answer.
Was there a turning point where you became aware of what was happening to you?
Really recently if I’m being very honest. I’ve been working sort of pretty continuously, so there’s not been any time to kind of stop and smell the roses as it were. It’s just kind of been happening slowly and I think that I’m very lucky that that’s the case because it’s sort of allowed me to maintain my feet being on the ground and not maybe fall into the pitfalls that a young actress who gets a rush of success quickly could fall into.
It’s so hard being famous these days with the internet and social media. Do you trust technology around you nowadays?
I think that technology is moving at such a pace that it is saving lives as well as being used as a tool to destroy them. So I personally think that it’s the people behind the technology that we have to be afraid of before my iPhone tries to kill me (laughs).
Do you Google yourself?
I did it when Game of Thrones first came out because you’re kind of intrigued and then just no, no, no. For every thousand lovely comments there’s one horrible one and you take that. So I decided to just avoid it.
Yeah, yeah exactly.
Do you recall the moment you really wanted to be an actress?
Well, I mean it’s a funny thing because I never genuinely saw anything else. There was never anything else that I wanted to do. It’s only as I’m doing acting that I’m starting to sort of write, sing and read, and see that there’s other creative outlets that I can use. I’ve been fortunate enough to be in this position and I’m now seeing the other parts of your life that are incredibly important to explore. Now that I’m in a position where I have the time to do that then there’s some other things that I have planned, but yes it’s just always been acting.
Your parents must be very proud of your success. But were they worried at all when things happened so quickly for you?
I couldn’t get more supportive parents. My dad works in the theatre so he kind of had an idea of the world that I was going into. You know, if I said, ‘Dad I’m desperate to be a gardener’ or whatever, they would be supportive of whatever it was that I did. The fact that the career that I have chosen to do has worked out is brilliant. I think they are just very happy.
Do you, or can you, plan your acting career?
Self employment by any route is difficult to plan, but you can have an idea of what you aspire to. The thing for me that I’m so lucky with is that I kind of came out of drama school and very quickly got into Game of Thrones, and that opened so many doors for me, this included. So my goal is to try and do as many different roles as possible and try and push myself as an actor in as much as I can, while I have this opportunity to try everything I’ll just do that.
Planning your career must be difficult because you don’t know if you are going to survive the next series of Game of Thrones?
Yes definitely, it’s exactly that. With Game of Thrones, or with any sort of big movie that you would come up with, it’s a trend to do not just one. So you can plan as much as you can, but mainly I think a good idea is just to have an idea of where you want to go and what sort of projects you want to be taking, or what people you want to be working with and keep that in mind as much as possible.
What inspires you besides acting?
Singing, writing… yeah music. Also being with friends and family, because when you are filming you really are away for such a long amount of time and you can get quite distant.
What kind of music do you like when you play the guitar and piano?
Everything. That’s a really boring answer but anything from Debussy to reggae to soul, funk, gospel, jazz, and folk as well. Lots of things.
And a favourite film?
I like the more classic movies. The Apartment is pretty high up there, like Adam’s Rib or something, Katharine Hepburn all day long and then obviously the newer ones. I try and stay on top of the sort of independent filmmakers – to see if there’s someone new and exciting who is coming up, as a young actor that is pretty exciting.
So Game of Thrones is not really your cup of tea then?
Oh no it is! Oh my goodness it is (laughs), I just took that for granted for a moment there.
Do you watch it?
I absolutely do watch it, because we don’t get to watch it ahead of anyone else. But I have to watch that by myself because people talk and it’s very frustrating.
You also starred in Terminator: Genisys. How was it to shoot with Arnold Schwarzenegger?
It was absolutely brilliant. The icon, the legend, the real deal! He’s kind of everything that you see on screen, and the brilliant thing about him is his professionalism on set is such that you would never think that he had any ego at all for everything that he has achieved in his life and for kind of the icon that he is. He really set such a wonderful tone of being a part of the ensemble and being a part of everyone that made it feel all inclusive, and made me as the actor coming in new to this project feel like I’m in safe hands really.
And tell us about Me Before You. It’s a drama right? And what’s your character like in that?
Yeah, which is so different from Game of Thrones and Terminator. The character I just played is much more closer to who I really am in my day-to-day life. I think if there were any movie for someone to recognise me from it would be that, because that’s the girl that walks around London, that character, is me. So it was wonderful—it was brilliant.
Do you have a role model as an actress?
As an actress there are people who I admire, there’s people who I am continually inspired by but it’s not just actors, it could be writers, artists, musicians or my mum. I am being continually inspired by lots of people. I think it’s important to have an idea of yourself, where you see yourself going, what you want to achieve and the things that would inspire you, and kind of take that as opposed to falling into the trap of trying to replicate someone else.
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