NATALIE DORMER HAS BECOME THE GO-TO ACTRESS FOR SPIRITED, INTELLIGENT WOMEN. AND, AS STYLIST FINDS OUT, THERE’S A GOOD REASON WHY
Natalie Dormer has just jumped fully clothed into a swimming pool. It is a heated pool in the opulent Hotel Café Royal, but regardless, it’s still a surprise to see a Game Of Thrones and Hunger Games star, in a £6,000 dress, swimming around like a mermaid, hair plastered to her scalp, in full make-up. But then one thing you quickly learn about 33-year-old Natalie is that she’s very much her own woman, with a savage sense of what she will and won’t do. She is an actress who won’t be put in a box, either professionally or personally. And doing so has given her major Hollywood credentials.
Since graduating from drama school in 2005, Natalie’s rise to fame has been slow and steady, with occasional dips into a-little bit-too-slow and not-all-that-steady. She made her name playing Anne Boleyn in The Tudors in 2007 followed by roles in Captain America: The First Avenger and BBC drama Silk. But then in 2012 along came the character of Margaery Tyrell in Game Of Thrones and Natalie proved herself one of the show’s most compelling talents. And that’s no mean feat in a series which has won both critical and audience acclaim – the finale of season four was watched by 9.3 million in the US, becoming HBO’s most popular show ever.
And then there was that other mega franchise The Hunger Games. In 2014, Natalie starred alongside Jennifer Lawrence, Julianne Moore and Philip Seymour Hoffman, which catapulted her into another league. It’s fair to say Natalie played the game of show business and won big.
Fiercely smart – a missed A Level grade curtailed her plan to study at Cambridge University – Natalie chats easily about politics, philosophy and gender between shots (more on which later). In conversation she can be intense and she is accomplished in front of the camera – although I’m happy to see that she’s eschewed the Louboutins we’ve provided for hotel slippers when we shoot on dry land. She’s 5ft 6 but somehow seems taller, and I notice that most of the undercut she (controversially) had for The Hunger Games has grown back.
Natalie, who was born in Berkshire, is also very down to earth, chatting happily with the hair and make-up team and tucking into a caesar salad, popcorn and green tea. When we discover there’s a press conference for the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) in the hotel she shocks everyone with her knowledge of it. And there’s a brilliant moment when her phone rings. “It’s one of those numbers,” she mock moans – she means PPI – before telling us about claiming back her own PPI and recommending we follow suit: “Don’t use a middle man, fill in the forms yourself!”