NEW YORK: NATALIE Dormer is best known for her role as cunning noblewoman Margaery Tyrell in the phenomenally successful HBO fantasy drama Game of Thrones, but the kick-arse documentary maker she plays in the latest The Hunger Games instalment is probably a better fit.
“Cressida is about as far away from Margaery and her long brunette locks as you are ever likely to get,’’ says Dormer, the 32-year-old English actress, who shaved half her head to play the intricately-tattooed Capitol deserter in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1.
As a kid, I used to be a bit of a tomboy.
“And I am a very physical human being. So to be running around with a gun and in combat gear is much closer to my physical self.
“That’s maybe not so prevalent in Mockingjay 1 but you will see it very much next year in Mockingjay 2.”
Dormer’s parallel decision to take part in April’s London Marathon, which she finished in less than four hours, stood her in good stead for The Hunger Games’ ambitious back-to-back shoot.
“The cardio training timed really nicely with making the movie, because when you are trying to keep up with Liam Hemsworth and Sam Claflin in big heavy army boots with a semi-automatic rifle, you need that stamina,’’ she laughs.
Dormer has now worked with two of the three Hemsworth brothers — starring opposite Chris in Ron Howard’s Formula One drama Rush.
“I can’t have a favourite. That’s just rude! They are both gorgeous gentlemen and talented and generous actors.”
Together with Julianne Moore, in the expanded role of District 13 president Alma Coin, Dormer is one of the key new cast members introduced in Mockingjay 1, which moves outside the relatively focused environment of the arena for the first time.
“Life reflected art very nicely with that — Cressida comes in with her camera crew to a group of people who are already close and tight with each other,” she says.
“But everybody was so gracious and welcoming. And after you have been running around in water and mud and fire and dust for a few weeks, 18 hours a day, you are pretty much bonded.
“And then the dirty jokes start coming to keep people’s morale up.
“So it happens quite quickly. I had a similar experience in Game of Thrones. I stepped into that one season later than everybody else. It’s amazing how quickly you are absorbed into the bosom of the family.”
Dormer did, however, already know Claflin, who plays former tribute and golden boy Finnick Odair, after working alongside him on Lone Sherfig’s Oxford University thriller The Riot Club.
“It was nice to have somebody to whinge to when the Americans were popping on their three-hour flight from Atlanta to LA and we were going long haul in order to maintain our relationships.”
From Tyrell to The Tudors’ Anne Boleyn and Elemental’s Moriarty, Dormer specialises in complicated female characters. Cressida is no exception.
“That’s good drama, right?”
So exactly how did she manage to sidestep the conventional rom-com route?
“There is a lot of fortune and luck involved in this industry but you also have to be brave and say no occasionally — that’s the only autonomy an actor has.
“And also just perseverance. I am dogged.’’