When we were first introduced to the Tyrell clan in Game of Thrones Season 2, it seemed like young Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer) would be our main point of contact. Sly and ambitious, Margaery climbed the royal over the course of her five seasons on the show, but was finally brought down by Cersei Lannister in the Season 6 finale.
We met Margaery’s grandmother, Olenna Tyrell, in the second episode of Season 3, “Dark Wings, Dark Words.” With her quick wit and bold manner, she became an instant fan favorite. She stayed that way right through to the end of Season 6, where she was last seen making an alliance with Varys and the Sand Snakes, effectively throwing her support behind Deanerys Targaryen. She’ll assuredly be around in Season 7, and if she survives into Season 8 (not something we can safely assume on this show), she’ll have outlasted her granddaughter and become the most prominent Tyrell on Game of Thrones.
Rigg recently sat down with BBC HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur to talk about her time as Olenna Tyrell, and about her acting philosophy in general. “If you do justice to the acting, you have to have a profound knowledge of the human condition and of yourself,” she says.
What happens when you accept a part is you have to measure the distance between yourself and that part, and you have to fill it with truth…You have to turn that written page into nature.
That is some very high-minded thinking, although Rigg admits that it hasn’t stopped her from taking parts when they’re offered. “I’ve generally thought, ‘If I don’t believe in this, it’s a bit of a challenge,'” she says. “I’ve got to make it believable.”
As for her time as Olenna, Rigg says that she was “deeply grateful” to get the part, although she didn’t realize at the time what it meant. “I wasn’t aware that I was getting involved in something so huge,” she said. Still, she, like fans, considers the role “a good part.” “I really enjoy doing it.” It shows.
Most intriguingly, Rigg makes a comment about Olenna’s nature. Sackur calls the character “something of a harridan,” and Rigg is quick to agree.
Oh, yes. She’s also pretty evil. I’m good at evil.
Rigg may have been speaking with her tongue planted in her cheek, but that’s one way to read Olenna’s actions. She did commit regicide, albeit against someone few would miss. But generally speaking, Olenna’s motives are sympathetic, even if she’s done some questionable things in the name of her family’s well-being.
There’s also the possibility that Rigg knows something we don’t. Yesterday, Sophie Turner (Sansa) said that she had received scripts for Season 7. Rigg may have received them too, and seen something that’ll change our perceptions down the line.
There’s a longer version of the interview out there that can be viewed by people living in the U.K. Rigg has had a long career outside of Game of Thrones, including as the lead on The Avengers TV series in the 1960s and as a Bond girl, so there’s a lot to go over.