In all of the machinations and power plays surrounding Westeros’ Iron Throne, Margaery Tyrell of Highgarden has had one of the swiftest rises and and most precipitous falls on Game of Thrones. As played by Natalie Dormer with acute finesse, Margaery was the woman who wanted to be queen in season 2 when she married Renly Baratheon, and then truly achieved that lofty goal last year by wedding her second Lion of Lannister in as many seasons.
Yet going into Game of Thrones season 6, Margaery finds herself in a grim new reality since she has been arrested for perjury and treason by the Sparrows (a fanatic religious cult akin to Savonarola’s Weepers in 15th century Florence) and faces trial, as well as possible capital punishment for lying about her brother Loras’ sexuality in order to save his life. It would appear to be a dark fate for the young queen, however it also offers many new storytelling opportunities to the HBO flagship series, and to Natalie Dormer herself.
Thus when I was able to sit down with Ms. Dormer for an interview earlier this week at the press junket for The Forest, a new January horror movie in which she stars as twin sisters who dare to enter Japan’s infamous “suicide forest,” the subject about Margaery’s future invariably came up. And Dormer teased a new dynamic for Margaery Tyrell.
“I just personally wrapped season 6 last week,” Dormer said about the new season. “What I love about Game of Thrones is every year you don’t really know who your pairing is going to be with. I’ve had some great stuff with Sophie Turner in the past, and some great stuff with Lena Headey. And I’ve got a whole new partner to play with in this season. So, I had a lot of fun there.”
Leaving fans to speculate, Dormer is not wrong about the dramatic formula utilized by both George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire,” and Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. Pairing off characters to interact can often be illuminating for each party. The relationship between Margaery and Sophie Turner’s Sansa Stark revealed some genuine compassion behind all the cunning for Margaery—although she was still positioning her family’s fortunes around Sansa’s name—as well as some growing self-awareness for Sansa. And the battle of egos and monarchy between Margaery and Lena Headey’s Cersei Lannister is the stuff of the best primetime soaps.
So, Dormer’s tease suggests yet another enlightening dynamic for the new queen, who is left in a very dangerous and vulnerable state after season 5. While Cersei Lannister was returned to the Red Keep following the most humiliating and misogynistic of “atonements” at the Sparrows’ hands, Margaery remains in the Great Sept of Baelor’s dungeons. However, lest this appear to be the end for Highgarden’s hopes, Dormer was quick to downplay comparisons between Margaery’s potential fate and the one suffered by her real life historic influence, Anne Boleyn.
When asked to compare the two, Dormer said, “They did turn out to be two totally different women. They want to be queen for different reasons and also, their demise of being thrown into a jail cell has definitely been played very differently.”
Admittedly, she could be referring to how the charges leveled against Margaery on Game of Thrones are different from those Henry VIII placed at Anne Boleyn’s feet (or those faced by Margaery in Martin’s A Dance with Dragons for that matter, which is much closer to Henry’s character assassination of Anne). However, it might also indicate a different direction for Margaery in custody.
If I would hazard a guess at anyone Ms. Dormer might be referencing in the King’s Landing subplots, she certainly has had few scenes to date with Jonathan Pryce’s deliciously self-righteous High Sparrow. Now that Cersei is temporarily out of his hair, perhaps he will turn his misanthropic gaze to another queenly prisoner?
We’ll find out for sure when Game of Thrones season 6 returns in April. Meanwhile, we’ll have our complete interview with Natalie Dormer in the New Year, closer to The Forest’s Jan. 8 release.