British actress Natalie Dormer, recipient of this year’s Max Mara Face of the Future honor at tonight’s Women in Film Crystal + Lucy Awards, chats with WWD about going from a small-screen star on “The Tudors” and “Game of Thrones” to leading lady on the big screen. Among her upcoming projects: the espionage thriller “Official Secrets” with Gillian Anderson, Anthony Hopkins and Harrison Ford; the medical drama “Patient Zero” opposite Stanley Tucci, and “The God Four” with Jai Courtney and Michael Douglas.
WWD: In what way does this moment feel like a turning point? What shifted for you?
Natalie Dormer: I’ve worked with some incredible ensemble casts in the last handful of years. To finally step away as a leading lady and play characters whose journey themselves is the story is great. I’ve done that in TV and I’ve done that on stage, but I hadn’t yet done that in movies. And that’s what’s changed in the last year. I’ve earned my stripes. I’m kind of glad that I’ve had that time because now I feel fully ready and informed to embrace those new challenges.
WWD: Did “Game of Thrones” help open doors in any way?
N.D.: For all the cast, it did. It redefined television in how ambitious you could be and in being irreverent and bold in its storylines toward its characters. Because it was so ambitious in its writing and in its production value, it changed the landscape for all of its main cast, not just me.
WWD: You’d previously starred on “The Tudors” and appeared in films like “Casanova” with Heath Ledger and Madonna’s “W.E.”, but the “GoT” level of enthusiasm had to be somewhat new to you. What’s been the most memorable fan experience?
N.D.: It’s grown incrementally. It’s not like we woke up one morning and “Game of Thrones” was the phenomenon that it is. It’s happened slowly over those six years. You find yourself in situations, with people approaching you in swimming pools or in saunas or when you’re standing in front of the cold meat section in the supermarket. It makes you realize how far-reaching the show is. It’s very rare that I go to a country that doesn’t have “Thrones” now.
WWD: You and your fiancé Anthony Byrne cowrote “In Darkness.” What inspired you to put pen to page?
N.D.: That’s a testament to how long it takes to get an independent film made because Anthony and I started writing that six years ago. It was born out of a frustration for me at the time over the roles I was getting.
WWD: What’s the best part about working with your fiancé?
N.D.: That we actually get to see each other and be in the same country. I think he’s an incredibly talented director and I don’t think he’s been able to show it off properly yet. Also, he knows me better than anyone, so he’s the perfect person to direct me out of my comfort zone. But we’ve only written it. The other half of the game is shooting it. I can’t comment on that until it’s done.