As Game of Thrones returns to our screens this month, Stephen Milton catches up with star of the hit show – and Twickenham resident – Natalie Dormer
Natalie Dormer’s built a regal career on a foundation of British royalty, with stunning performances as the Queen Mother in Madonna’s directorial debut, W.E and her blistering breakthrough as Henry VIII’s scheming, and ultimately light-headed second bride, Anne Boleyn in The Tudors.
And you’d think that would be enough sovereignty for the Twickenham-based siren? Apparently not.
Far from satisfied with her lasting impression on the English monarchy, the bow-lipped actress turned her attentions to the royal family of Westeros as Game of Thrones fan favourite, Queen Margaery Tyrell.
Once married to slain King Renly Baratheon, the ruler of Seven Kingdoms, she moved onto his nephew and successor, dastardly King Joffrey, with plans for lavish nuptials in the new season.‘I simply must be royalty in every part I play,’ Natalie chuckles.
Joining the phenomenally successful fantasy saga at the beginning of season two, Natalie earned an army of devoted followers as kind, caring Margaery, branding her, ‘the Kate Middleton of Game of Thrones’.
But the star confesses she may not be as sweet as initially thought. ‘I think she’s genuine when she helps the poor and needy, but she also has calculating skills.
‘A person can be sincere and politically savvy, simultaneously. She’s not malicious but she can be manipulative.‘And who else would you want handling Joffrey? He’s the most dangerous human being in Westeros.’
While we know the pair will walk down the aisle, it remains to be seen if they’ll get their happily ever after.
‘Look at it this way, weddings are always pretty low key affairs, just like the Stark nuptials,’ Natalie offers, dryly, referencing the bloodied Red Wedding from last season.‘There will be a wedding, but a happily ever after…with Joffrey? It’s an interesting concept.’
Fearful of revealing any telling plot devices, (one imagines show creator George Martin releasing a clan of fire-breathing dragons in revolt) the actress promises the most nail-biting season yet.
Which in all honestly, leaves us rather aghast at just how thrilling it can be, given the palpitating action from last series.
‘It’s true,’ she replies with a regal tone. ‘You wonder how it can top the last but the creators and writers, for season four, in its scale and size and spectacle, it really has been wrenched up to the next level. No one’s going to be disappointed.
‘And while we’re sad to see the departure of the Stark family, you’re going to get introduced to more characters and the story continues and grows. That’s the beauty of a show like Game of Thrones. And there are more dragons.’
Despite conquering the small screen with a string of standout performances, Natalie hasn’t neglected her commitments to cinema, with roles in Oscar-nominated racing flick, Rush, Marvel’s Captain America and Ridley’s Scott’s thriller, The Counselor with Brad Pitt and Michael Fassbender.
The nature of these parts however, followed a similar two-dimensional path – a largely supporting turn as the seductive temptress.
Fearing a complacency, the 32 year-old decided to draw the line on this repeated pattern.
‘That persona is just not me,’ she cries, ‘yet I’ve played the temptress, the seductress repeatedly. Now I think, I’m just done with that. It’s not challenging for me anymore.’
‘I’ve had that experience and being able to do it at the level with Ridley Scott and Ron Howard or a massive project like Captain America, is not to be sneezed at.
‘But I’ve made a little pledge to myself to turn away from that typecasting now, because I’ve feel I’ve done it and prove to people that my skillset as an actress is wildly more diverse.’
True to her word, the feline-featured beauty, who was once rumoured to be in a relationship with Tudors co-star, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, has extended her repertoire with her latest project, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay.
She plays Cressida, a rebellious freedom fighter who aids Jennifer Lawrence’s Katniss in her struggle against the Capitol.
‘She’s a documentary filmmaker who left the Capitol to join the Rebellion. The last of the Games books reads as more a civil war movie, less in the arena.
‘So this the natural crescendo of the trilogy and opens up in its scale.
‘It’s just a colossal production to be a part of, bigger than anything I’ve encountered on Game of Thrones. The joy of being able to get physical and run around with Jen [Lawrence] and the boys is fantastic and long overdue for me.’
One could certainly call losing half their flowing blonde locks a pace changer. How is Natalie coping with Cressida’s extreme look, which called for a blade one to half her head?
‘Well considering they told me I’d be going bald for this part, I was pretty relieved to be honest.
‘Although shooting in Atlanta in the middle of winter with half a bald head, yeah I could have done without that. Many hats were purchased.’
Maintaining a home in Twickenham with her Irish director fiancé, Anthony Byrne – whom she met on the set of The Tudors – success now dictates rarely any time spent there.
‘I persuaded him to move to London from Ireland but the nature of the game, I’ve spent so much time on a plane now, I’m always travelling. I get back as and when I can. I miss it there of course but you cannot put a level of appreciation on the work.’
Not only is her soaring success keeping her from her fiancé, it’s also keeping Natalie from her spiritual home.
‘London for me, it’s hard to explain,’ she muses proudly. ‘I guess it’s where I learned my craft, where I learned about myself, particularly after moving here and going to [drama] school.
‘It’s where I landed my first jobs and I don’t know, sometimes you’re striding down the streets of Soho, and the West End, looking around thinking, ‘that’s where I got my first audition; there’s where I got my first paid job.’ It’s a city of memory and laughter for me.
‘But like I said, I wouldn’t trade any good fortune right now. I’m not going to jinx anything by saying, ‘I wish I could spend more time in London,’ I just want to take this journey and see where it takes me.’
Game of Thrones is on Sky Atlantic, Mondays at 9pm