Minor spoilers for Army of Thieves ahead.
Nathalie Emmanuel doesn’t know much about cracking safes (“Like, literally not at all,” she confesses), but it’s the central skill in her new film, Army of Thieves , now streaming on Netflix.
A prequel to Zack Snyder’s Army of the Dead , the heist flick follows Ludwig Dieter (Matthias Schweighöfer) before his zombie encounters, when he was recruited by a band of crooks to unlock a set of legendary and nearly impossible safes created by the fictitious designer Hans Vagner and, of course, steal the money inside them. Their schemes take them from Paris to Prague to St. Moritz, all while evading the clutches of Interpol.
While the premise was “a whole new thing” to Emmanuel, who plays jewelry thief Gwendoline and love interest to Ludwig (then known as Sebastian), she was drawn to the script and the mythology behind the storied locks. Their extremely detailed clues are found in Richard Wagner’s operas and Norse epics. “These stories are timeless and the kind of epicness of them are so amazing and so enticing,” Emmanuel gushes.
The actress has a penchant for epic stories. She’s starred in Game of Thrones and the Fast & Furious franchise and, for the romantics, the Four Weddings and a Funeral reboot. With Army of Thieves , she enters the Zack Snyder cinematic universe for yet another large-scale project with a major fanbase. She’s also set to star in a modern adaptation of Dracula , called The Bride , which she’s filming now in Budapest. Could a superhero movie be next? “I’m happy just to do it one time,” she says.
The funny thing about making Army of Thieves was that it was filmed months before Army of the Dead even came out. Emmanuel didn’t get to watch it for context. But Schweighöfer, who both starred and directed, fed her the highlights during production. They were also shooting during the COVID surge last fall, before vaccinations were widely distributed and people still refrained from large public gatherings. The cast was encouraged to avoid crowds and there was a strict mask mandate on set, but that also meant the actors couldn’t really bond outside of filming.
“We would just go back to our accommodations and we weren’t really allowed to socialize outside of the set,” Emmanuel says. “That was sort of the way we did it. And so we had to find new ways to connect with each other, but the dynamic was pretty great. Everyone was very warm and welcoming and generous with each other and supportive of each other.”
Here, Emmanuel delves into Army of Thieves and how her family supported her through her lowest moments. It’s interesting that you were making a prequel to something that had not come out yet. What did you know about Army of the Dead and this universe?
I just knew that it was a Zack Snyder movie expanding on the Army of the Dead movie that was coming out, and basically it was the origin story. […]