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Young Diana Rigg from 'Game of Thrones' Was a Bunkworthy Dead Ringer for Natalie Dormer

By Dustin Rowles | Game of Thrones | April 8, 2016 |


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Unless you are a big connoisseur of The Avengers TV Series or fan of the entire Bond catalogue, if you were born after 1970, you might not be that familiar with Diana Rigg outside of her work as Olenna Tyrell in Game of Thrones. After all, she largely retired from acting in the 2000s (until Game of Thrones came along), and she was never a particularly big star here in the States.

Back in the day, however, Diana Rigg was not only a smoking-hot dead ringer for Natalie Dormer, she was a bad-ass, sexually adventurous woman.

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In fact, her independent streak was much of what she was known for outside of playing Emma Peel in The Avengers. Her love life is part of what led to the rise of tabloid celebrity culture in London. She was involved with a married British director 10 years her senior, Phillip Saville, for eight years. They lived together, but hardly spoke of their affair with friends or colleagues. They took separate cars to separate workplaces and didn’t cavort much outside of their home together.

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In 1969, she also played a “Bond girl,” in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, but she famously didn’t get along with George Lazenby, who played Bond at the time. They had a nasty and entertaining public feud in the tabloids, and Rigg basically owned him.

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In the 1970s, she met and married Israeli painter Menachem Gueffen, but that didn’t work out. Again, it had everything to do with her independent streak. They were together for only a year before Gueffen tired of being referred to as Mr. Diana Rigg. He didn’t much care for having a wife more famous than him.

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After her marriage, Rigg shacked up with a man named Archie Stirling, who was already married to a relative of the British Royal family. That didn’t stop Rigg and Stirling from having a child together, however. She and Stirling did eventually get married, but that marriage fell apart years later when Stirling had an affair with an actress 25 years younger than him. That actress? Joely Richardson.

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The relationship with Stirling, however, did produce a daughter in Rachael Stirling, who appeared with her mother in a Mark Gatiss-written episode of Doctor Who in 2013. Stirling was also in what was described in 2002 as a “lesbian romp” with Keeley Hawes called Tipping the Velvet.

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I only mention all of this for those who didn’t know that the woman who plays Olenna Tyrell on Game of Thrones is an amazing lady who has led an amazing life, and Natalie Dormer should be so lucky to one day have a life half as interesting and exciting.

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