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Vegas - 2015 - Issue 7 - November - Natalie Dormer

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Dormer grew up in Reading, England, where a thriving Hollywood career seemed about as probable as a play date with Prince William. "I didn't know any actors and had no idea how to get into the profession," she says. It was her grandmother who inspired Dormer, the eldest of three, to perform. "She would take me to see Shakespeare's tragedies in the ruins of the Reading Abbey, knocked down by Henry VIII and Cromwell, and my eyes totally opened up to the possibilities." A straight-A student who speaks multiple languages, Dormer was accepted to Cambridge University but chose instead to enroll at drama school in London. Just months after graduating, director Lasse Hallström cast her as a bum- bling virgin opposite Heath Ledger in Casanova. Dormer's role was written as a bit part, but Hallström gave her more screen time when he saw she had real potential. Dav id Goyer, t he screenw riter behind Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy and the writer and coproducer of The Forest, says, "When you meet Natalie, what distinguishes her is this sense that 'here's someone who's going to be a star.' It's partly her ambition, but it's also her rare combination of razor- sharp wit, unusual intelligence, and unique, timeless looks." That mix made her a natural to play Anne Boleyn in the 2007 Showtime series The Tudors. By the time another cos- tume project, Game of Thrones, came along, Dormer might as well have stitched herself permanently into a corset. "You say that," she says a touch defensively, when asked about the period roles, "but I've actually only done three corset dramas in 10 years. Kate Winslet's spent more time in a corset than I have. Helena Bonham Carter has spent more time in a corset than I have. What Americans tend to forget is that I can carry a semiautomatic weapon and run around in jeans and T-shirts, too." That's true. Her role as Sherlock Holmes's only love, Irene Adler, in t he CBS series Elementary showed t hat Dormer could be powerful and sexy without ruffes. But it is the character of Margaery Tyrell on Thrones that is her greatest creation. Here, too, the role was not conceived as a major one—Margaery is a marginal fgure in the original fantasy novels—but Dormer turns her into a politically savvy woman in charge, who dominates whatever scene she's in. Last season found Margaery in what might have been the most uncomfortable sex scene ever broadcast on television that did not actually involve sex. The boy king, Tommen Ba rat heon, played by Dea n Cha rles Chapma n, made Margaery his queen—with all the carnal clutching and gasp- ing such a royal union involves on a show like Thrones. Fans were agog. Chapman is 17 but playing 12, an age gap that set off a Twitter storm even though the hook-up was mostly implied. Dormer fnds the fuss a little irritating. "After what we've done on this show—the rape, the incest, the child mur- dering—it baffes me that two people in a reasonably good, reasonably affectionate relationship is what gets the wide eyes and the questions." As for questions about Dormer's own relationship, let's just say it might be easier to extract answers from Ser Pounce, t he Game of Thrones cat. Dormer's partner of four years is Anthony Byrne, a flmmaker and director. He created Hozier's latest music video, which features Dormer. Byrne is across the pool today, tapping on his phone as Dormer talks, but she doesn't say much about him. "I couldn't pos- sibly comment," is all she says when asked about recent reports that the couple was spotted ring shopping or about the double date paparazzi caught them on in Serbia last June with Lady Gaga and her fancé (and Dormer's costar in The Forest), Taylor Kinney. Dormer treasures her privacy, which is partly why she stays off social media. "I've been busy enough playing four different roles in the last four years," she says, "and I don't have energy to put out some perfect image of Natalie Dormer that's not the real me anyway." To stay grounded, she spends as much time as possible with friends she's had since childhood. "Most of my closest pals have nothing to do with the industry. They watched me struggle fnancially. They know my sob stories and t he roles I missed out on and the nights when I never thought I'd work again." She is also devoted to philanthropy. Dormer ran the London Marathon last year to raise money for Barnardo's, the UK's largest children's charity. "She put us all to shame by somehow man- aging to train in the middle of Hunger Games," Nina Jacobson laughs. I f Dormer's schedule allows, she'll run the New York Marathon this month in support of Team for Kids, the New York Road Runners' charity. She also appeared in a campaign on behalf of Plan UK, which works to eliminate forced underage marriage and female genital mutilation around the world. Whether future roles will involve bodices and bustles remains unclear. Margaery did not appear in the Game of Thrones fnale last season, leaving fans to wonder if she might become yet a not her v ict i m of br ut a l it y i n Westeros and Essos. But Dormer will be okay no matter what happens. She says she'd love to do a comedy ("I'm a huge fan of Veep," she says) or a natu- ralistic drama, and being a Bond girl might be cool, too. Dormer looks out to LA, her eyes glimmering, as that confdent, cryptic facial expression returns. "My fve-year, no, 10 -year, hell, my 55-year take is that I'm going to keep doing this as long as I can keep doing this," she says. "You look at my country women like Judi Dench and Vanessa Redg rave a nd Dia na R igg—t hey're gonna drop doing what they love to do. That's where I'm heading." Corset or not, she says, "Someone's going to have to carry me out." The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 opens in theaters on November 21. V "I get oil paintings from fans, computer- generated art from fans, fans approaching me in the toilet, fans approaching me in the sauna. It's a Champagne problem, but I can't really go any where without a 'Wait, aren't you…? '" 84

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