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Chatting up Natalie Dormer about 'The Fades,' 'Game of Thrones,' Madonna

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  • Sarah (Natalie Dormer) walks through her own haunting vision in "The Fades."
Sarah (Natalie Dormer) walks through her own haunting vision in "The… (BBC America )
February 02, 2012|By Curt Wagner | RedEye

It just doesn't seem right watching Natalie Dormer act in contemporary clothing, let alone with her natural blond hair.

"I do quite a lot contemporary stuff," Dormer told me, laughing, during a phone interview from London, "but the American audience perhaps wouldn’t know me so well for that."

What Americans do know the British actress for is her role as the brunette Anne Boleyn in "The Tudors," Showtime's bodice-ripping take of the lives and wives of 16th century British King Henry VIII. BBC America currently airs repeats of that series on Wednesdays, but fans can see the modern, blond Dormer in the network's horror-comedy mashup "The Fades," in which she plays Sarah, a ghost-fighting "angelic."

Without spoiling—the network airs the fourth of six episodes at 8 p.m. Feb. 4 (but I recommend you find them and start from the beginning; my review here)—Dormer's character is put through the wringer.

"I got a great kick out of this show because it was so physically demanding," Dormer said. “A lot of extreme stuff happens, without giving too much away, we all had ash being blown in our faces or were covered in goo and glue or had to deal with peculiar, extreme physical situations.”

Dormer dons period costumes again for her role in Season 2 of HBO’s fantasy hit "Game of Thrones," which begins April 1. She finished filming in December, but did not want to reveal too much about her character, Margaery Tyrell. Like Sarah in "The Fades," practically anything you say about Margaery is a spoiler.

But I think it's fair to say that Margaery is the sister of the Knight of Flowers, who after much drama marries a contender to the Iron Throne. And Dormer did say she's signed on to the show for multiple seasons. "Absolutely. Margaery really comes into her own in series [seasons] 3 and 4."

While you're waiting for "Thrones" to return, you can see Dormer in the Madonna-directed film "W.E.," which opens Feb. 10 in Chicago, and in modern clothes—and goo—in "The Fades."

Dormer and I talked more about Sarah and "The Fades," so stop reading if you're not caught up. We also talked about "Games of Thrones," "W.E." and working for Madonna.

ABOUT THE FADES
OK, so it’s been awhile since you filmed “The Fades” but hopefully we’ll—
You’ll jog my memory. [Laughs.]

I love that it’s this mix of comedy and heavy drama and romance and scariness. Is that kind of what struck you, too, and attracted you to it?
Absolutely. I think [creator] Jack Thorne [who also did the Brit version of “Skins”] is a master at sort of mixing these genres up. And his dexterity in the script was what really attracted to me to it. When I read the script initially, because he can jump [not just] in a few scenes but within a few lines from a very funny moment to, as you say, a very profound or a very scary moment. And that's really down to Jack’s writing. That’s the way Jack writes. He’s very agile and dexterous in the way he writes and its kind of fun to have to keep up with the writing, so to speak.

But I think that's what makes the show. I think that’s what made the show as popular as it has been, because it’s so hard to sort of pigeonhole it and say this is good for people who love their teen comedy or this is good for people who like to be scared. It’s got that little bit of everything as does human life, right?

True. It’s fun to see you not in a corset and long skirts for once, in period costumes—and with blond hair. How was that?
[Laughs.] I do quite a lot contemporary stuff, but the American audience perhaps wouldn’t know me so well for that. As you say, they’re used to seeing me in long skirts and a corset.

I got a great kick out of this show because it was so physically demanding. And it wasn’t just the same for me. It was for a lot of the cast. There’s a lot of running around. A lot of extreme stuff happens, without giving too much away, we all had ash being blown in our faces or were covered in goo and glue or had to deal with kind of peculiar, extreme physical situations that Jack had dreamt up. So I think any actor kind of really enjoys that, because if you get pushed and challenged physically it just adds to the whole fun of the game and playing it and finding something new, like surprising yourself.

With all the special effects and things going on, is it a challenge to act without that stuff being there in front of you?
We had the most amazing—considering the budget, I mean—it’s kind of testament to what grassroots like British TV can do. We in no way had any kind of budget that you would expect for this kind of show or maybe an American audience would be used to having. So it’s a testament to our effects team, how good a job they did.

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