Born in Reading, Berkshire and one of three siblings, actress Natalie Dormer has enjoyed a considerable amount of success in her career. After narrowly missing out on a place to read History at Cambridge, Dormer’s training at the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Arts saw her rise to prominence, after she took the role of Anne Boleyn in the American TV series, The Tudors, in 2007. Praised for providing an “exquisite and enigmatic” performance, she has most recently gone on to play Margaery Tyrell in the HBO series Game of Thrones.
Previously head girl, vice-captain of the netball team and a prominent member of the public speaking team at Reading Blue Coat School, Dormer’s acting credits also include a role in The Hunger Games film franchise and stints on the West End stage, including the 2003 production of The Comedy of Errors and After Miss Julie in 2012.
1. What was your biggest career break?
That’s a tough one! If you are asking me to be project-specific (was it The Tudors, Game of Thrones, Hunger Games, my first lead on stage? etc.), the best answer I can give is that my biggest break was my British agent, Dallas Smith, taking me on. He was my third agent since graduating drama school. He introduced me to my current US manager, who in turn introduced me to my US agent. I have the best, closest team in the business as far as I am concerned. They are my champions and my biggest believers and they fight to change the landscape for me every day so that I can challenge myself artistically in new ways.
2. Have you had a notable mentor? If so what was it about them that was so inspiring?
I have been sans mentor. The position is still available (she proffers). But, seriously, when it comes to inspiration, then Bette Davis, Katharine Hepburn, Vivien Leigh… Then outside my industry, trailblazers like Lee Miller, the first female war photographer and correspondent, and Pauline Gower who persuaded the founder of the ATA to let women fly in the war effort and founded the WWAF (Women’s Air Auxiliary Force).
3. What one piece of advice would you give to the 20-year-old you?
Put SPF50 on your face. I started doing that far too late.
4. What qualities do you look for in the people you work with?
Strong instinct. Vision. Love of hard work. Humour and candour. A low tolerance for BS too.
5. Who do you admire, and why?
My sister is training to be a midwife and she was a home-visiting carer for a year before. Her and the countless patient, unfazed employees of the NHS and funded organisations that aid our unwell – be it mentally or physically – vulnerable, isolated population, old and young. They are unsung heroes and I have profound admiration for them out of respect for what they witness and handle every day.
6. What does the future of your career look like?
Long and diverse, I hope.
7. If you hadn’t chosen your current career, what would you have done instead?
When I was young I wanted to present Time Team! I LOVED Time Team. That’s the little girl who loves history in me. Of course, on reflection, how unfathomable to replace Tony Robinson!
8. What is your biggest extravagance?
Sleep. Dormer by name, dormir by nature. I will nap or siesta at any opportunity, absolutely anywhere, and would sleep over nine hours a night if I could. Maybe that is an elaborate twisting of the question but, truly, it is my biggest indulgence.
9. Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?
Joanna Lumley – I mean, she’s extraordinary.
Beyoncé Knowles – voice of a whole generation of women.
JK Rowling – no explanation necessary.
Girly night in: lots of wine, storytelling, laughing, pillows and Chinese take-away, please.
10. What do you do to relax away from work?
Yoga, jog, dog-walk, read, watch inspiring theatre and film, great dinners with friends and travel somewhere hot to scuba dive whenever I can.
11. If you could change one thing about Britain today, what would it be?
The social services’ resources. I have associated myself with both Barnardos and the NSPCC over the years because I believe so strongly in the services they provide. The national system is on its knees and the government must give more of the money and services needed to transform the lives of endangered, vulnerable children. The numbers of those impoverished, isolated and abused is horrific and we as a society need to refuse to fail these souls of the future. Education, too, is so important. Careful now, you’ve got me started…
12. What would your last meal be?
Mexican food! I have spent enough time in Los Angeles to fall in love with great Mexican food. Some nachos with a lot of freshly-made guacamole, a burrito or tostada and chocolate churros please. A fine red wine and a strong coffee to finish. Gracias.