Diana Rigg (Olenna) once “stormed off” the set of Game of Thrones


Natalie Dormer (Margaery) and Emilia Clarke remember acting with the incredible Diana Rigg, while the directors remember what a force she was on set.

Since Dame Diana Rigg passed on last week, we’ve been getting some tremendous tributes and stories about the legendary actor, who rose to fame in the 1960s with The Avengers and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and gained a lot of new fans when she played Lady Olenna Tyrell on Game of Thrones. Known for her fierce spirit and impeccable skill, she was an inspiring presence on set, but according to some of her directors, could also be “terrifying.”

This newest story comes from Fire Cannot Kill a Dragon: Game of Thrones and the Untold Story of the Epic Series, an oral history of the show written by Entertainment Weekly’s James Hibberd, who had close access to the cast and crew. Based on a new excerpt from his book, Rigg was a constant source of surprise, joy and grit on the set. “When you have someone who has that many accolades, you just shut up and watch,” said Rigg’s costar Natalie Dormer (Margaery Tyrell). “She had a very dry sense of humor and was aware of the parody of herself. Sometimes I think she was mischievous to see what she could get away with.”

Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen) was in awe of her, too.  “I only had one scene with her and was very blessed to have had that,” she said. “Like with Peter [Dinklage], it was watching an acting master class. I kept thinking: “Okay, not my line yet, I’m not just watching you — really! I’m acting with you. . . .”

The producers were impressed, as well. Rigg always managed to show up and make of the most of her lines, of which she had many excellent ones. “I’ve known a great many clever men,” she once told Daenerys. “I’ve outlived them all. You know why? I ignored them.” Then there’s her classic rejoinder to Cersei in season 6: “I wonder if you’re the worst person I’ve ever met. At a certain age, it’s hard to recall, but the truly vile do stand out through the years.”

Clearly, she knew what she was doing, sometimes to the point where she intimidated some of her coworkers. “I was terrified of Diana Rigg,” said Mark Mylod, who directed her in her famous death scene. “My very first scene with her, I asked her to do a very minor thing. Like, ‘Would it make sense if you close the door and walk a few paces before this moment?’ She came back with some rebuttal about why she wanted to do it another way and then said: ‘Thank you! Go away!’ I became a five-year-old boy. I could feel myself blushing and creeping back to my monitor, stripped of any kind of dignity or authority.”

Apparently this was a common sentiment among the directors on the show. Hey, the Queen of Thorns can prick you if you’re not careful.

Then there was what happened on the set of the season 6 finale, “The Winds of Winter,” during the scene where Olenna meets with Ellaria Sand and the Sand Snakes in Dorne:

“She walked onto the set, and she went, ‘I’m ready now!'” said Jessica Henwick, who played Nymeria Sand. “A cameraman came over and went, ‘Well, okay, but we haven’t finished setting up.’ She interrupted him and said, ‘Roll the cameras!’ And she just started doing her lines. She did two takes, and then the guy came over and was like, ‘Great, now we’re going to do a close-up.'”

"And she just stood up and she went, ‘I’m done!’ Now, she can’t walk fast. She has to be helped. So basically we just sat there and watched as Diana Rigg effectively did her own version of storming off the set, but it was at 0.1 miles per hour. She cracked me up. I loved her."

The more we learn about Diana Rigg, the more awesome she sounds.

Next. Diana Rigg (Olenna Tyrell) never watched an episode of Game of Thrones. dark

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