What’s a riskier move in Westeros than going to a wedding? Marrying Margaery Tyrell, apparently. Her first husband, Renly Baratheon, was killed by a mysterious assassin. Now her second, Joffrey Baratheon, was poisoned in Sunday’s episode at their wedding feast. Last September, we chatted with actress Natalie Dormer on the set of HBO’s Game of Thrones in Croatia in between breaks shooting “The Purple Wedding” about playing the savvy Highgarden double-widow and what comes next.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So congratulations, this is your big day.
Natalie Dormer: Thank you! Five [shooting] days in a row, six if you count the interior stuff that we did.
That’s right, you had a ceremony scene, too.
Dormer: Absolutely. I mean every girl loves a wedding day, but whether they actually would want to do it for five days in a row remains to be seen
Nice dress though.
Dormer: Thank you!
Your character’s interesting because we’ve seen all these different players manipulating others—playing the game of thrones, as they say — and your character brought something new to it. She played the game, but in a different way.
Dormer: She brings a very sort of modern PR angle to it, sort of canvassing the common people’s hearts and minds type of thing. I think of her as like a hybrid sorts — Michelle Obama, with a Kate Middleton or a Princess Di. That’s what she’s aiming for.
She’ll be ordering healthier school lunches in Flea Bottom next I bet.
One thing I was trying to decide when watching season 3: Is it all PR or does Margaery really care about people?
Dormer: Oh, I think she definitely cares. The Tyrells are not the Lannisters, and it’s more interesting if she’s sincere. And any modern politician this side of the Atlantic will tell you that the two don’t have to be mutually exclusive. You can be politically savvy and a genuinely sincere person with charitable inklings. So it’s both.
So you’re the good guy.
Dormer: I’m a pragmatist. She’s the practical, empathetic, modern politician. Yeah.
What sort of feedback did you get from fans to your character last season?
Dormer: I had a little trepidation because I hadn’t interacted with any fans previous to the screening of the third season and because obviously [showrunners Dan Weiss and David Benioff] had built on the foundations of Margaery and really fleshed her out [from the books]. I didn’t know exactly how fans were going to react. But my fears were waylaid when I actually went to a — What do you call them? A comic conference in Chicago—I went to C2E2. That was my first experience of interacting directly with the fans and the feedback I got about the direction that we’d taken her was kind of really galvanizing and a relief so it was like I was given the blessing.
Do you read comments online?
Dormer: Oh God no. That’s the rabbit hole—stay away from that!
So after Joffrey [Jack Gleeson] dies at the wedding, what can you tease about your character’s future?
Dormer: Well, politically, it’s a disaster, to lose one husband is bad but to lose two husbands is careless! It’s really bad PR for Margaery. So regardless of what she thought of Joffrey as a human being, it’s not a good place for her to be in. So she’s like cursed or tainted goods … Margaery has to recuperate after Joffrey’s death. She feels like she’s failed. And that’s where Olenna [Diana Rigg] is very important again at sort of galvanizing her. That’s why I like Margaery because she’s human. You see that she’s been traumatized by watching Joffrey die. That goes back to my saying about her being a genuinely sincere, sensitive person. She’s just strong at hiding it. She’s lost her husband, and she’s lost the queenship in one fell swoop. So she has to start from scratch again, which is a tall order.
What was it like working with Jack?
Dormer: We’re all going to miss him — we’re all trying not to think about it that it’s his last day so everyone is a little morose at the idea of actually losing Jack. But once you’re part of the Thrones family, you’re always part of the Thrones family, you’re still part of the clan even after.
The relationship between Margaery and Cersei [Lena Headey] … that can’t get more chummy after this.
Dormer: No, absolutely. It’s just going to deteriorate and get worse.
What will that be like?
Dormer: It’s going to get really nasty. The rivalry between them gets incredibly personal and venomous.
One more thing I should ask: What’s your take so far on the character of Cressida in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay?
Dormer: I’ve just read the book and I really enjoyed it. I go out and start pre-production at the end of next week. So until I sit down with [director] Frances Lawrence and have a conversation with him, I’m just enjoying the book in a very fan like way, and I enjoyed the first movie very much. So I’m just excited to be a part of it. And I very much look forward to getting out of the long hair and long skirts.
More Purple Wedding coverage:
‘Game of Thrones’: Behind the scenes of Joffrey’s wedding — EXCLUSIVE
‘Game of Thrones’ showrunners talk royal wedding twist
George R.R. Martin: Why Joffrey died THAT way — EXCLUSIVE
Jack Gleeson talks royal wedding shocker — EXCLUSIVE
‘Game of Thrones': Joffrey wedding crowns new piracy record
‘Game of Thrones’ recap of ‘Lion and Rose’: Best Wedding Ever!