Natalie Dormer: I was on Game of Thrones for “the perfect length of time”


Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer) was always one of my favorite characters on Game of Thrones. Clever and subtle, she played the game her way, manipulating people into doing what she wanted so delicately they often didn’t even realize it was happening. And she departed the series in explosive fashion right before the final two seasons, which were easily the most roundly criticized among the show’s fans.

Speaking to Variety, Dormer agrees that the timing worked out. “I got the golden ticket, the perfect length of time,” she said. “I watched season one as a fan, came in the second season, did a good solid five years just as the show had this incredible explosion, and then I got out in time to watch the end and sit on the couch again.”

And about that controversial ending, Dormer thinks that showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss had an “almost impossible task” wrapping up the series. “And by the very nature of the sheer quantity of storylines and characters, they had to start wrapping up around Season 6, which they did with the Tyrells and other beloved characters,” she said. “It was almost going to be the impossible task, I think, regardless of what they had done, to satisfy a third act for everyone in the time that they had.”

I’ll always remember Margaery very fondly, and am thrilled if Dormer’s exposure on Thrones led to other opportunities. For example, she’s currently playing the demoness Magda on the (so far) excellent Penny Dreadful: City of Angels, a follow-up to John Logan’s cult favorite Penny Dreadful. The original show was set in Victorian England, but the new one sheds that setting for 1930s-era Los Angeles, where tensions run high during the lead-up to World War II.

Like Margaery, Magda influences people subtly, whispering suggestions in their ear. Unlike Margaery, Magda is out to prove human beings are wicked creatures by pushing them into a war, so that’s different.

“[Magda] was pitched to me as sort of a capricious, supernatural goddess—like the jury was still out in her head about whether mankind is fundamentally good or fundamentally bad, which, I think is a pertinent question for our time,” Dormer told the Daily Beast. “You’re like, ‘Wow, Magda, who hurt you?’”

"I think sometimes actors, wittingly or unwittingly, take jobs to help them process things,” Dormer said, “We get attracted to stuff because it helps us with stuff that our subconscious is dealing with—be it personal or on a bigger scale. I think I recognize some of the arguments that John wants to explore—the demonization of others, the dangers of political leaders that pander to people’s prejudices. So, it’s all that and hopefully it’s all wrapped up in a really entertaining, whodunit cop heist, as well. Hopefully it does both."

Magda also takes on several human guises to better manipulate people, which gives Dormer a unique opportunity as an actor. She plays an unhappy German immigrant, a Mexican-American gang leader, and a mousy city councilman’s assistant who — what else? — slyly manipulates things from behind the scenes.

That last one was Dormer’s favorite role to play, by the way, since the look is so different than what she usually does. “A couple of the cast walked past me a few times before they realized it was me, when they hadn’t ‘met’ Alex yet,” she told Variety. “But as an actress, playing a character like that is so liberating because there’s absolutely no vanity attached,” she says. “It’s like I would almost say to the camera operator, ‘What’s the worst angle? Put it in the worst, first.’”

Penny Dreadful: City of Angels is an ambitious show that aims to explore bigotry, nationalism, and other-ness, all while telling a gripping crime yarn, with Natalie Dormer’s vampy demoness at the center of it all. So far it’s been a blast, and Dormer herself never seems to run out of new ways to entertain.

Next. WiC Watches: Penny Dreadful: City of Angels. dark

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