Natalie Dormer did what many would call the impossible: she caused more buzz than the entire cast of “The Vampire Diaries” combined at her Q&A on Oct 29. Students packed into the chairs, lined the walls, and even lingered in the hallway for a chance to hear her advice on acting during the Savannah Film Festival.
“Wow, this isn’t overwhelming at all,” said Dormer looking at the crowd.
“Just a chat between a few friends,” quipped professor Andra Reeve-Rabb, her interviewer.
Immediately, Dormer wanted to dive into sharing the nitty-gritty of working in the industry. She explained that she learned her most important lesson just three months out of drama school.
“I found myself in Venice with Jeremy Irons, and Heath Ledger, Sienna Miller — an incredible cast. And Disney gave me a three-picture deal, and my agent was like, ‘this is incredible, that’s what Knightley’s got. You’re home and dry,’” said Dormer. “Then Disney didn’t exercise their deal with me, and I found myself unemployed for nine and a half months. So the biggest lesson I learned straight away was to never take anything for granted.”
Unemployment is healthy, according to Dormer. It teaches young actors to be proactive and the importance of networking.
“It’s an industry,” she said. “It’s a business, and it’s one of the most painful things to learn because you’ve spent the last three, four years learning it’s all about the art. But most importantly, it’s a business.”
Dormer was adept at injecting humor to lighten the ups and downs of the chat. When asked about her career-shaping role as Anne Boleyn in “The Tudors” and her luck with period pieces, she raised a leg in the air and gestured to her jeans, “Pants… Do you wear them?”
“I’m known for these long-skirted girls,” she continued, “I worry about [being typecast] constantly. I would love to play a working-class drug addict. It’s so hard to challenge people’s perceptions of you, but it’s not impossible.”
Of course, there was no way to discuss her career without touching on “Game of Thrones.” In it, Dormer plays Maegery Tyrell, Joffery Baratheon’s soon-to-be Queen and a master player of the game.
“People ask me how I play the ambiguity of Maegery a lot and I say I don’t. I just play her sincere — in the moment — in every given scene and the writing does the rest,” said Dormer.
“Can you tell us about auditioning for Maegery?” asked Reeve-Rabb.
“I didn’t audition for Maegery. I first auditioned for – “ she began and then said with a wink, “No… I’m not going to tell you who.”
“This [audition process] is what I mean about holding a steady path and networking and everything happening for a reason,” she advised.
“About two years ago I went out to pilot season in the states. I did all the rounds, I did the cattle calls, and I did a studio screen test for Alan Taylor — who is one of the director/producers for “Game of Thrones” — for an NBC show that was about Playboy Bunnies. I didn’t get it. Anyway, two months later I found myself in a room with Alan and the creators of “Game of Thrones,” David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, and the rest, as they say, is history.”