Note: This story contains a major revelation from the season 6 finale of Game of Thrones….
Her death, like so many others on Game of Thrones, wasn’t exactly fair. Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer) had all the wits necessary to survive the King’s Landing lion’s den. She was chosen as somebody’s queen, not once, nor twice, but three times. And after each occasion, she was denied a comfy rule by forces beyond her control. Margaery perished in Sunday night’s spectacular finale after becoming trapped on the High Sparrow’s losing team as Cersei Lannister made her explosive checkmate move. The outcome was the final chord in a recurring theme in Margaery’s life — she constantly found herself attached to powerful, yet doomed, men. Only this time, besides the High Sparrow, she couldn’t escape his deadly downfall.
EW spoke to Dormer about her final Thrones episode. The actress, who joined the series in its second season, has seen her feature film career bloom over the years, with roles in The Hunger Games franchise and Rush, among other projects. Here she gives her thoughts on Margaery’s fate, and most intriguingly, says her character could have beaten Cersei if she wasn’t tripped up by the High Sparrow’s mistakes.
Entertainment Weekly: When did you get the phone call that Margaery wasn’t making it through to next season?
Natalie Dormer: I preempted the phone call because in true Natalie Dormer-style I tried to fit a million projects into a single year. I requested [while making season 5 that showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss] release me from working on the show earlier than usual so I could do another project, and they ended up phoning me — and that was The Call. But I got it six months ahead of normal. They were like, “We weren’t going to tell you this for a few more months, but we’re not going to release you now, so you can’t do that job you really want to do and we’re really sorry about that. But on the bright side, we are going to release you proper in the not-so-distant future.” It was good news, bad news — no you can’t do this, but don’t worry, you’re going to have lots more opportunities very soon.
And how did you feel about that?
They have to tighten the storylines given however many episodes are left. They have to focus them, down to get to the real business of the throne. Dany’s not far away. I appreciate they have to streamline and they’ve come up with some ingenious ways to do that that the audience will not see coming. That’s Game of Thrones all over, isn’t it? Every year something comes from the left field that no one could have predicted. It’s great they can still shock people six years on. I watch as an audience member as well, you get side swiped.
And how did you feel about the way Margaery goes out in particular?
I thought it was really clever. I really did. It’s not an echo of anything you’ve seen in the last six years. It’s truly it’s own unique moment to tie up what’s been a unique storyline about what’s happened in King’s Landing over the course of season 6. I thought it was an inspired choice. And it’s really interesting that I am given a moment of some vindication at the very end, which was the perfect way for Margaery to leave the show. She’s given a platform to say that she was right, as she always is. But because the power was taken from her, she couldn’t do anything about it.
She’s been sparring with Cersei all this time, but then has to relinquish control just to survive.
The reason it all goes tits up is because Margaery wasn’t in control of the battle against Cersei. She had to hand the reins over to the High Sparrow and Cersei outplays him. By the end, Margaery is a victim of the High Sparrow’s incompetence. He underestimates Cersei and that’s something Margaery Tyrell would never do. David and Dan try to stay as close to human nature as possible.
She ended up having a really great arc, though. In the books, Margaery has a smaller role and you have to figure one reason you had so much more to do is because you were playing that part.
Margaery had a fantastic arc in comparison to what’s in the books. David and Dan stood by what they originally said they would do, which is give me stuff to get my teeth into. It’s the longest time I’ve every spent playing a character. I’ll always have a little yellow rose after my heart, and I think it was just the right length of time, to be honest. It’s time for the Westeros story to move on and it’s a perfect time for her to exit.
What was your last day on set like?
My last day on set was fantastic. It was a scene with Diana Rigg [who plays Olenna Tyrell on the show]. That was the last scene that I shot. She and I had a lovely day together. Dan and David made sure they were there at the very end. It seemed very fitting Margaery’s last day is shooting a scene with the Queen of Thorns. They gave me a big hug and made a fuss out of me. It was lovely.
Overall, what was your favorite scene on the show?
I think it will remain the bow-and-arrow scene with [Joffrey Baratheon actor Jack Gleeson]. We had such fun that day. It was a defining scene for Margaery when you could see how she was going to handle the psychopathic king, one of the best baddies we’ve had in television for decades. And the scene with Aidan Gillen [Littlefinger] as well, when Aidan is standing over Renly’s body [and Margaery says] “I want to be the queen.”
So what’s next for you?
I start shooting In Darkness, which is a thriller I co wrote with my partner Anthony Byrne. Also doing Official Secrets with Martin Freeman and Harrison Ford. There’s fantastic independent films that will have me in jeans and t-shirts — no more flowing silk for awhile!
Keep reading “The Winds of Winter” coverage: Here’s our interview with Lena Headey revealing her point of view on those game-changing finale twists. Actor Finn Jones on Ser Loras’ sad fate. Our breakdown of that Tower of Joy revelation. And here’s star Emilia Clarke making her bold season 7 predictions. Our very deep-dive recap is now live with our opinions. Maisie Williams reveals who Arya should kill next. And don’t forget to subscribe to our Game of Thrones Weekly podcast (New episode posted below)!