The world recently mourned the passing of Dame Diana Rigg, veteran actress and the star of many beloved franchises, from James Bond to 1961's The Avengers. Younger viewers know Rigg best in the role of Olenna Tyrell from Game of Thrones, for which she earned three Emmy nominations for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series. In an interview with IndieWire, the co-creator of Game of Thrones, David Benioff, recalled the audition process prior to casting Rigg went a little differently than normal.
"We had tea with her. Dames don't audition for you; you audition for them. We loved her, she was funny, she was bawdy, she was everything we wanted for that character."
The character of Olenna Tyrell is one of the most commanding on Game of Thrones, despite her frail appearance. According to director Mark Mylod, who directed several episodes of the show, Rigg in real-life was just as authoritative as Olenna, which made the work of giving her directions for a scene very tricky.
"My very first scene with her, I asked her to do a very minor thing. Like, 'Would it make sense if you close the door and walk a few paces before this moment?' She came back with some rebuttal about why she wanted to do it another way and then said: 'Thank you! Go away!' I became a five-year-old boy. I could feel myself blushing and creeping back to my monitor, stripped of any kind of dignity or authority."
Rigg's take-charge attitude extended to everyone on set, and not just the producers and directors. Actress Jessica Henwick, who played the role of Nymeria on the show, recalled sharing a scene with Dame Diana Rigg in which the late actress unexpected became the director of the day before making an abrupt departure.
"[Rigg] walked onto the set, and she went, 'I'm ready now!'. A cameraman came over and went, 'Well, okay, but we haven't finished setting up.' She interrupted him and said, 'Roll the cameras!' And she just started doing her lines. She did two takes, and then the guy came over and was like, 'Great, now we're going to do a close-up.' And she just stood up and she went, 'I'm done!". Now, she can't walk fast. She has to be helped. So basically we just sat there and watched as Diana Rigg effectively did her own version of storming off the set, but it was at 0.1 miles per hour. She cracked me up. I loved her."
While that kind of energy can be difficult to handle onset, Rigg's headstrong nature translated very well on screen, and Olenna Tyrell is remembered as one of the best characters Game of Thrones ever produced, a strong and unapologetic lady who was willing to do what must be done to protect the ones she cared about, whether it was poisoning Joffrey, or indulging in deadly political intrigue that earned Olenna the title "Queen of Thorns". This news first appeared at IndieWire.