Natalie Dormer Says It’s “Refreshing” to Play a Woman Not Defined by a Man


Game of Thrones star Natalie Dormer has never shied away from discussing women’s issues in Hollywood and recent comments about her Mockingjay role are no different.

Dormer plays Cressida in The Hunger Games franchise who, unlike its main protagonist, has zero love interests. As Margaery Tyrell on Game of Thrones, she technically doesn’t either.

In an interview with Flare Magazine in 2014, the actor said “The beautiful thing about Margaery is that even though she keeps getting married, she’s not defined by a love interest. And Cressida is defined by her profession and her political beliefs. Since Anne Boleyn, I haven’t played a woman who’s defined by romantic love.”

Dormer updated and expanded on those comments while speaking with The Guardian recently.

‘It’s so refreshing to play a woman who’s not defined by the love of a man. I was getting a little tired of sitting around in a silk skirt. It was a good antidote to put on a pair of army boots and run around in the mud for nine months,’ she recalls, ‘but by the time I had finished, I was ready to put the silk skirt back on.’

You may recall Dormer’s Thrones co-star Maisie Williams expressing a similar sentiment not too long ago, “I hope to never have to play a character that is only there to benefit a male lead.”

The Guardian also wondered what Dormer’s thoughts were in relation to “powerful” roles for women as they relate to on-screen nudity, which the actor has had to do for many roles:

‘I don’t know what the answer is,’ she says, shaking her head. ‘Female empowerment shouldn’t be exclusively about sexuality. And you meet a lot – and I’m going to be careful what I say here – you meet a fair fraction of male writers and directors who want to wave the equality flag and believe that they’re making you a kick-ass female assassin, and they’re empowering you. Whereas true empowerment would be…’ she breaks off with a laugh. ‘You know, not a stylised, hyper sexualisation.’

Speaking of male creators who may be missing the crux of the matter, talking with The Daily Beast last year, Dormer revealed she’d asked Thrones creators Dan Weiss and David Benioff to alter the scene in which she seduces the young Tommen Baratheon (in Season 4). But following further interactions between the two characters (in Season 5), some of Dormer’s words were misconstrued by the press to make it seem as if she condoned sex with minors. She told The Guardian:

‘There are several things at play here,’ she sighs, staring me down with a defensive yet weary glare. ‘The first point is that the male actors in the show don’t get a lot of flak when they’re raping and murdering, because people understand it’s fantasy, and yet if a female actress has to portray something – which isn’t portrayed explicitly – I get flak, personally.’

And the second? ‘That everyone in Game Of Thrones, from Emilia Clarke to Sean Bean, is aged up. When I did those scenes I never imagined I was portraying someone going to bed with an underage child.’ Dormer was still concerned enough prior to filming to call the show’s creators, David Benioff and DB Weiss, to ensure she wasn’t put in a ‘compromising position’. Yet, had that age gap been the other way round, would the world have batted an eyelid? Dormer takes the words out of my mouth. ‘Frequently the age gap between a male actor and his female love interest in movies is 15 years-plus. Frequently,’ she emphasises. ‘And the same comments are not made.’

Over the summer Vulture wrote, “It isn’t news that Hollywood likes to pair its older men with younger women,” and then made a series of fantastic charts showing how bad it really is. However, rarely are those pairings men with actresses under the age of 18, so I can certainly see why the show was critiqued the way it was.

Dormer is set to star next as the lead virologist in Patient Zero alongside Thrones co-star John Bradley, Hunger Games co-star Stanley Tucci, Doctor Who’s Matt Smith, and Viking’s Clive Standen.

One Response to “Natalie Dormer Says It’s “Refreshing” to Play a Woman Not Defined by a Man”

  1. Adrian says:

    She’s so smart and tells it like it is… ( ♥‿♥)