Article translated from Grazia
«I like to run and swim in the Ocean», says Natalie Dormer with a wide shining smile when asked what she enjoys doing to relax. This was her most intense year in her career. And if by “relaxing” she took part to the London marathon, completing it in less than four hours, and not many can make it, before that she was in the saga Hunger Games and also her role as queen Margaery Tyrell in Game of Thrones, who shaked this last season.
«Running taught me to work harder for my goals and not to lose on them. I can also run for training for several hours. It’s like a meditation status, and I focus a lot on myself. Once it’s over, I feel ready for the challenge». It’s no surprise that this british actress of 34 was given with the Women in Film Max Mara Face of the Future Award, the award that Italian maison dedicates each year to the most promising of the moment. An award that in the past went to actress like Kate Mara, Emily Blunt, Rose Byrne, Zoe Saldana and Katie Holmes.
Natalie Dormer is that typical blonde with the right face for all those epic movies and in costume: «I am fascinated by women in power, those characters like Anne Boleyn in The Tudors, who make of their strength something sensual. I am very different from this, I’m shy». Who knows that by accepting all these roles I won’t become myself a seductress». Dormer is also that typical British beauty, who fits in thriller and horror movies, as it shows in The Forest: «I’m so scared, though. During my youth time at parties where you watch scary movies, I was the one hiding in my sleeping bag. It’s still hard to watch again some scenes for me, even if I’m the protagonist».
The actress just signed for Offical Secrets, in which she will portrait the story of Katharine Gun, an agent from British Secret Service, who bravely reported irregularities on the invasion of 2003 in Iraq from United States. With her will also be Anthony Hopkins and Harrison Ford. It looks like the right chance to really start to run, not in a marathon this time, but to the Oscars and Golden Globes.
The meeting with Natalie is in her hotel suite at Four Seasons in Beverly Hills. Actually, I had met her at the party in her honor organized by Max Mara in Chateau Marmont, the notorious hotel in Hollywood, and I already was fascinated by her class, but also her modest simplicity.
«This is really a happy time for me, but also a very busy one. I have to admit I can’t wait to have a vacation with Antony (Byrne, Irish director and screenwriter who is her partner since nine years). I am training with him for the marathons and I also like scuba-diving».
I like to listen to Natalie when she speaks. She has a clear and neat English, but her tone is at same time sweet and comfortable. She has no “posh”, those typical snobbery from the British high society, often ridiculed with the expression plum in the mouth.
My observation makes Natalie laugh, but she appreciates my compliment. «There’s no “posh”, or snob or made up in my life», she explains to me. «I come from a very normal family from Reading, in London suburbs, and for the three years I attented the Academy of Dramatic Arts I worked as a secretary, a waitress and usherette in theater. The diction you call perfect, I learnt it from my grandfather».
Was he an actor as well?
«No, he was fascinated by my enjoyment in telling stories and transformation in characters I brought to life from my imagination, ever since I was a child. I really cared a lot about it and he helped me to believe in it and to play them in the most reliable way possible. In his free time he was a carpenter and he built me a wardrobe I could bring around with me and put all my costumes inside it».
How about your family, you’ve got any brother or sister?
«I was an only child until the age of 7. Then came my brother and my sister, and they were my first audience. I always wanted to act. The very first time I was sure I fulfilled my dream was in school, when I was given the role of Peter Pan. I was 8 and I still remember it like yesterday, that green stocking and my class applauding me».
The Max Mara award make it seems like it was really the right path for you.
«That is true, in this moment of my career, this award it’s a little yet big gift for me, and it gives more value to the whole work I have done so far. I was moved when they said my name to accept it. I really feel like this is the most important moment of my career. I always tried a variety of different roles, I tried to discover new emotions and new complex characters. Now I’m taking back from all my efforts. There’s no doubts: it’s very satisfying when someone notices you».
In your case, it was a big brand from Italy. Did you know Max Mara?
«Yes, of course. It aligns with my concept of fashion. I like the natural elegance of this brand: you put on a jacket or a coat well finished and that’s it. I am a girl from London, I love all those sartorials, Vivienne Westood or Alexander McQueen. I think Italians and British people have a lot in common, starting from the love for making impeccable clothes. When you wear one of these, you just need your personal touch, a creative detail and that’s perfection».
Talking about measuring, is there among your projects to direct a movie written, directed and created by your partner. Sounds like a beautiful declaration of love, don’t you think?
A proposito di “su misura”, tra i suoi progetti c’è anche quello di girare un film scritto, diretto e costruito dal suo compagno intorno a lei. Una bella dichiarazione d’amore, non trova?
«To be fair, it’s something we worked on together six years ago. We tried to do something, me as an actor and him as a director, it was a moment in which none of us was getting anything good to do. Rather than complaining about it, we thought to put together into something we both liked and were satisfied with.
It still was a very interesting project, I entered the independent directing and producing world. I learnt a lot of new things, met people who love cinema. Working on a script helped me to understand better the work of the actor, and Anthony taught me what directors really need. The movie is titled In Darkness and I play a blind musician who witnesses a homicide in the apartment above».
I am thinking to Rear Window by Alfred Hitchcock.
«Yes, that’s exactly the kind of effect we want to bring you to. It would be great to make of it a noir, a classic thriller. Anthony is really passionate about cinema and we want to present that kind of stories that seems to be sadly long gone from British cinema as well».
What is the genre of movie you used to watch as a teenager?
«I didn’t become an actor thinking to have fame in cinema. I always preferred the stage, William Shakespeare’s theater. That’s my true passion. Anthony, loves cinema ever since he was a kid and he made me discover this world. Somehow it seems like we train each other on it. He taught me how important is the work they do behind the cameras».
When did you meet?
«It was nine years ago, I was doing the The Tudors, playing at Ardmore Studios in Dublin. The same crew would have worked for Anthony soon after and so he came on set to meet them. His accent was so close I didn’t get a word, but I liked him immediately. And we never separated ever since».
Love at first sight?
«Yes absolutely, but I needed a translator in the beginning. I’m not joking».
What’s the best place for a week-end?
«Venice: I loved it ever since I played in Casanova. It was my very first real job and I cannot forget those shooting in costume, piazza San Marco or going around for calle and campielli on the lagoon».
Was that the movie that made you understand you were fit for the big screen?
«No, but I discovered coffee. Everyone on set kept drinking a cup after another. I never heard about espresso, but I am addicted ever since. I can’t understand how I attended three years of dramatic arts without having an espresso».
For six years you played a queen: a clever, intelligent, scheming woman. Do you miss playing in Game of Thrones?
«I do. It’s one of those series where everything can happen, and you can’t even imagine. And that is what pushes me on accepting every challenge, my grandfather knew it and my man taught me this».