Warning! This story contains major spoilers — do not read until you’ve watched the Sunday, June 26, season finale of Game of Thrones.
When you play a role on Game of Thrones, dying is, as Natalie Dormer correctly asserts, “an occupational hazard!” So when she received news that her character Margaery Tyrell wasn’t going to make it beyond the end of season 6, she wasn’t overly surprised.
Her character’s fiery conclusion was, however, shocking to fans: With the help of Qyburn (Anton Lesser) and his vast storage of wildfire, Cersei Lannister (Margaery’s mother-in-law, played by Lena Headey) blew up the Sept and everyone in it — including Margaery, the High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce) and Ser Loras (Finn Jones).
But as Dormer, 34, told Harper’s Bazaar in an extensive exit interview, leaving like this was the best way she could have gone.
“It seemed an exciting, fitting way to depart. Margaery’s been battling Cersei for the last however-many-years and she ends up dying on the show not because she didn’t beat Cersei, but because she trusted that someone else — the Sparrow — was handling her,” Dormer said.
“She had the reins taken away from her, from being in control of the situation; the High Sparrow took the reins and it proves that he underestimated Cersei in a way that Margaery never would have. Margaery is a fatality of the High Sparrow underestimating Cersei,” she explained.
Dormer’s hopeful that fans will be sad about her dramatic end. “I’d like to think that people will be sad to see the Tyrells unjustly blown to smithereens!” she said, laughing. “As an audience member, you spend so much time with these characters, you get to know them very well, and to have them so irreverently snatched from you and killed is really harsh.”
But the show’s habit of killing of key characters is part of what makes is so successful, says Dormer.
“That’s what real life is and that’s why Game of Thrones is the powerhouse that it is,” she added. “It’s not scared to take away some of your favorite characters. It’s always been brave, this show.”
And with that knowledge, it wasn’t completely unexpected when she got the call to tell her that her time was up.
“I wasn’t that surprised because dying on the show is an occupational hazard,” she said. “I knew when I started shooting season 6 that it would be my last. It was lovely because it informed the whole way I enjoyed the season. I enjoyed being with the crew and the other cast members because I was aware that it was going to be my last year with the family.”
The final days were, of course, emotional. “We shot two or three days in the Sept. Jonathan Pryce is a lot of fun; I’ve enjoyed working with him this season. I was also with Finn Jones, who plays Loras, all that time. It was very moving and fitting that Finn and I should be together for those last three days and the brother and sister should go to their fate together, because you see the brother and sister relationship so beautifully over the years. They go to their deaths physically holding each other,” she explained.
But in the end, her finale was a happy experience. “There were a lot of long looks and hugs and we’ll-miss-you’s to Jonathan and me and Finn, to all of us who went up in that kaboom,” she said. “Every year we lose a few people and the cast members are always really supportive of each other.”
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