Diana Rigg looks back at Olenna Tyrell’s reign

Image: Game of Thrones/HBO
Image: Game of Thrones/HBO /

It’s been over a year since the fierce Lady Olenna Tyrell exited Game of Thrones, and we still miss her dearly. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, star Diana Rigg looked back at her time on the show and how her character gained a huge fan following.

Olenna was a beloved character, and fans have gone on to spotlight her in many a meme. Rigg confesses that she hasn’t seen any of them, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t appreciate the fervor of her fan base.

"Obviously, it’s great that has happened, and great it was a young audience — terrific. That’s the nature of my profession. The young, I don’t expect them to know about my past, but if, through Game of Thrones, they discover me, that’s good."

And discover her they did!

When showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss approached Rigg about taking on the role of Olenna Tyrell, she didn’t know anything about A Song of Ice and Fire. She simply knew that the scripts were some of the best and meticulously written she’s read.

"I loved the complexity of Olenna. She was a political woman, and she played the game brilliantly. Anything and everything executed ruthlessly for the survival of her family, which is historical in a way, like the Borgias and various other famous families."


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One of Rigg’s favorite parts of being on the series was all the traveling, something she still enjoys doing very much. Going to Croatia and Belfast was an adventure for her, as she’d never been to either place. Rigg remembered the lively days she spent filming Joffrey’s ill-fated wedding feast in Croatia:

"I loved that location, it was absolutely beautiful. I remember one early scene in which I had a huge list to learn of what my army needed in terms of food and transport. It was a great big endless list, and I remember as I learned it thinking, ‘Are they testing my memory because of my age?’ I did it in one take, so that was okay."


Often to pass the time in between takes on set, Rigg enjoyed playing Word of Friends and Scrabble with the cast and crew, and was infamously known for beating everyone, even Benioff. “She’s a legend,” said Natalie Dormer, who played Olenna’s granddaughter and protégé Margaery. “Respect is shutting up and listening. Just that dynamic of a younger actress and someone with as much experience as Diana is what I call NAR, which is ‘no acting required.’ She’s one of the earliest feminist figures on our screen. She’s one of the original ’60s feminists.”

When asked if she missed the role, Rigg talked about the value of moving on. “I don’t know that I’ll miss her. I enjoyed her hugely, and I’m very grateful for the new audience that she’s brought me. I was extremely grateful that I didn’t die on the lavatory or in some rather undignified manner.

"It’s in the nature of this series, isn’t it, that people are dispensed with quite often? The fact that I’d been kept alive for far longer than the original author [George R.R. Martin] had intended seemed to me that I had a pretty good run for my money, and I was perfectly philosophical about being killed off."

She will, however, miss working with Charles Dance, with whom she worked on Rebecca in 1997. I suppose if you’re going to miss one thing about Game of Thrones, it might as well be Tywin Lannister.

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