Natalie Dormer will not be pigeonholed. It's not hard to find a connective thread through most of her major roles across her decade-long career up until now though. From playing Anne Boleyn on The Tudors, to setting Brad Pitt up in Ridley Scott's The Counselor, to stumping Sherlock Holmes as Moriarty in CBS' Elementary and of course, displaying a knack for political savvy as Margaery Tyrell on Game of Thrones, Dormer has a penchant for playing femme fatale schemers. Some actresses would be content to accept the niche and run with it—typecasting sucks but after all, work is work and the four examples named aren't exactly what you'd call low profile.
But Dormer's got bigger plans and a strong belief in her capabilities—which is why she's been taking concerted efforts to choose roles that skew out of the usual realm, lest she end up playing "honeypots," as she calls them, for the rest of her life. Cressida, the rebel cum propaganda film director in Mockingjay, the two-part finale to the Hunger Games franchise, marked a first step in that direction. She's a badass with a Skrillex haircut, but her motives and agenda are not in the conniving vein of Margaery. We hopped on the phone with Natalie to talk Hunger Games, Game of Thrones, and what she's up for that doesn't involve being a cunning schemer.
A lot of the most prominent roles in your career so far have been the femme fatale types. Is that a conscious decision or just something people seek you out for, especially after The Tudors?
I think when you are successful in a role, people immediately offer you roles that fit the blueprint. That’s what happened with Anne Boleyn. For a few years while I was trying to establish my career, people were like, “Oh, femme fatale, Natalie Dormer.” But a few years back I had a conversation with my team where I was like I need to stop playing the femme fatale honey trap because I am being put in a box here. I didn’t train three years in drama school just to play one role. It was hilarious because two weeks after I had that conversation with them, they went “Oh, we know what you said but Ridley Scott wants to use you.” I was like okay, I’ll play femme fatale honey trap one more time. Oh, you want me to seduce Brad Pitt? Let me think about that. [Laughs]
I really feel in the last few years I've taken a quite sufficient step away from that and you see that in roles like Cressida [in Mockingjay] and [Sara in] The Forest, which I have coming out in January. Even Margaery is not what I would say a femme fatale—she is more political than that. I am trying to challenge people’s perception of me and I am trying to challenge my perception of myself.
What are some other roles that you want to take on?
I’ll go where the good scripts are. I have never done a horror before but The Forest was a really interesting experience. I would be totally up for comedy, more action movies. I just wrote a thriller with my other half that we are hoping to shoot in the spring or early next year. To me, I don’t want to be committed to one genre. I am willing to do anything.
What did you find appealing about the role of Cressida specifically?
It’s a woman who is a refugee. She has been forced to leave her home, flee a tyrannical, coercive government. She wants her home to be free and liberated. She is going to use skills that she has—which are direction, propaganda, marketing—to fight. To me, even though it's a fantasy world, I thought the themes were very pertinent for what is going on in the modern world at the moment. Just to be part of that universe and a part of that ensemble, I was like this, is a no-brainer.
How annoying was it everyday to go through the makeup of putting those head tattoos in?
It was liberating to do, and I am so pleased I did it. Cressida looks a particularly strong way and I loved rocking that for the nine months that I had it. The only annoying thing was what time the alarm went off. My alarm went off at 45 minutes earlier than everybody else's.
Both Game of Thrones and Hunger Games are overarching franchises populated with a lot of strong women. Is that something that attracted you to joining both of those families?
Yes, absolutely. It’s not so much that there are ”strong women,” but they are so well-written. They are three-dimensional, fully fleshed out women, which is what we experience all the time with male characters. They feel real. They are contradictory, they have different personality attributes that aren't to do with their gender. They are just people.
We are finally starting to see TV and film reflect that balanced character creation.
Yeah, it’s getting there. I think you're right. Katniss has proven it's viable to write an incredibly three-dimensional protagonist who happens to be female. So hopefully, the tide is turning.
Speaking of Katniss, do you see yourself maybe leading your own franchise one of these days?
[Laughs] I am not the person you ask that question. We don’t get to choose.
I mean, some actors sometimes prefer not be part of the bigger blockbusters and stick to smaller stuff.
I am a lucky girl. I have managed to, so far in my 11-year career, do theater, TV and movies. I've been able to switch it up in different mediums, do small independent and do huge projects. Hopefully, I continue to have that fortune.
What are you enjoying on TV and film this year?
This year, I thought Mad Max was a masterpiece. I thought it was a brilliant piece of filmmaking. It was just so well put together and the editing was an absolutely fantastic spectacle, it obviously spoke for itself. And Charlize's role in that movie was fantastically well played. I really, really enjoyed that movie a lot. When I finally finish the press tour, I’ve got a stack of movies at home, whether it be Steve Jobs or Burnt or Carol, I'm excited about putting my feet up and watching my colleagues do their thing.
Are you done shooting Game of Thrones Season 6?
No, I have a few more days left. We shoot until December so I have a little more time till Christmas.
I know you probably can’t say much, but when the show returns, where will we find Margaery? Where is her head at? Last we saw her, she was in prison.
Oh we have left Margaery incarcerated last season and she is a wily one—she will be doing everything she can to get herself out of that jail cell, so she goes on an interesting journey this season. That’s all I can tell you without and David [Benioff] and Dan [Weiss] sending me an email.
Are you pestered all the time about whether Jon Snow is alive?
Oh, I mean, yeah. If I had five dollars for every time I’ve been asked that in the last few months, I'd be richer today.