Emma D’Arcy: A film of sweat is really sexy”

Emma wears all clothes Celine Homme.

We gave the House of the Dragon actor a ring to talk books, birthday suits, and the allure of an egg mayo sandwich (you heard).

Every day, Emma D’Arcy – the actor whose big break came two summers ago, via Game of Thrones prequel series House of the Dragon – eats an egg mayo sandwich. Every day, Emma D’Arcy wears blue. Well, that’s not strictly true. Six days a week, the 31-year-old can be found in West London, performing in a stage adaptation of Maggie Nelson’s Bluets alongside Ben Whishaw and Kayla Meikle, where the three share the role of the protagonist, musing on their obsession with the colour blue. That’ll explain the wardrobe then. As for the egg mayo sandwich, well, that’s just Emma’s personal preference.

Though right now, their world revolves around theatre, it’s been a big week for House of the Dragon fans. A few days ago, Emma attended the premiere of the show’s second season in New York, dressed head to toe in Hedi Slimane’s Celine, pairing a crystal-encrusted blazer with a tie and leather trousers. They’ll return to King’s Landing as Rhaenyra Targaryen, the platinum-haired, dragon-riding princess who’s also the disputed heir to the Iron Throne. After a season spent flirting with and, er, eventually marrying her uncle Daemon (Matt Smith), we meet a grieving Rhaenyra in season two, following the murder of her son Lucerys.

It is, in true George R. R. Martin style, an intense and gory affair – and HotD is all the better for it. For those who haven’t seen the show, you may remember Emma from that viral clip that knocked the espresso martini off its perch as the nation’s favourite cocktail, in favour of a negroni sbagliato… with prosecco in it. But all that was in 2022. Here’s what Emma’s been up to lately.

Hi Emma! Where are you right now?

I’m at the Royal Court Theatre in my dressing room, hoping no one storms in here for the next ten minutes. It’s a matinée day, so I’m between shows.

How do you normally spend that precious bit of spare time?

I’ll do my daily walk to buy an egg sandwich. For some reason, when I do a show, I end up falling into a very rigid structure. Like I’ll make a sweet potato salad at home and eat that before the matinée, and then every day I’ll buy an egg sandwich before the show and I can’t change it. So at the moment, I literally eat the same three meals every single day, and I will do until the 29th of June. You can’t fight these things.

You can’t fight the allure of an egg mayo.

No. I totally agree. Although you and I are in the minority, as I have discovered through the course of this show – it’s not a popular sandwich. However I think it’s a wise choice because it broadly avoids disappointment, you know?

I do. You recently attended the premiere for the second season of House of the Dragon. How did it go?

It went well! It went by in a real flash for me because I was in New York very briefly. It was very nice to see everyone dressed up and looking so smart. I find it particularly affecting when I see actors who play my various kids in their posh clothes. I just get such a feeling of pride like, don’t they scrub up well?

How would you describe your personal style?

My personal style is completely dictated by this play right now. I’m wearing assorted blue denims for the month of June.

Does that bleed into weekend looks?

If I get dressed at all on Sunday, which is our only day off, that’s already remarkable. So it’s like a wardrobe of blues and then a Sunday birthday suit.

What do you foresee for July, fashion-wise?

I hope that by July we’ll have some more consistently nice weather, because I’m having a fantastic time cycling at the moment. My bliss is high summer in London and arriving everywhere in a cling film of sweat, which I actually think is really sexy. Most people look much better when they’re sweaty, so I really hope that for everyone, for the people of London, that a sheen of sweat is the dominating fashion trend for July.

Emma wears all clothes Celine Homme.

Let’s talk books. You were inspired by Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts for your role in House of the Dragon. Can you tell me more about that?

I adore that book, and I’ve read it many times. I would consider myself a Nelson disciple. But the House of the Dragon-Argonauts relationship was particularly [important] for the first season of the show. I so adored how Nelson wrote about child-bearing and the queer transformation of the body in that book. She describes labour, and the words she uses really stuck with me: One experiences the touch of death”.

I would say Maggie Nelson offers a guide to most things in life, which is why I return to The Argonoauts periodically. I find it very helpful. Sentences from it really stick with me; I find them helpful as anchors to certain parts of a narrative or even just as a way in. They open the door for investigation, I think.

Did you find The Argonauts helpful in terms of digging into your character’s grief in season two?

As it happens, I shot season two straight after my first experience of really profound grief. I’m sort of at the beginning of that process, actually. So I was certainly aware that I was being invited to reflect or meditate on a process that I was in the midst of for the first time, and that was quite surreal but I definitely sought the good in it.

That sounds like an intense work experience.

I mean, it’s basically something people have to juggle all the time – huge, life-changing events and their job and whatever else. Grief has so many associated symptoms which can feel like alien elements within your body. I found myself very full of rage, which I would say is not an emotion that I have had a huge relationship with. In fact, I used to joke that I needed to go to anger management classes to ask for help identifying my anger! But it was interesting to notice and feel this alien in me; it was like having a foreign body inside me.

Thanks, Emma!

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