Jonny Lee Miller’s Sherlock Holmes was left devastated in last week’s “Elementary” by the revelation that the woman he has been grieving, and whose death lead him spiraling down the path of addiction — Irene Adler — is actually alive.
And Natalie Dormer, who continues her arc as Irene in the two-hour Season 1 finale tonight, can actually credit her duties as a member of the “Game of Thrones” cast for helping introduce her to the CBS drama — something that happened at the perfect time.
“It was like serendipity because I’d seen the show on the transatlantic flight. … I was skimming through all the different TV shows when I was flying over to do ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 3 press, “ Natalie explained to AccessHollywood.com about how she first became familiar with the “Elementary” take on Sherlock Holmes, shortly before being asked to meet with the show’s Executive Producer, Robert Doherty.
“It was really peculiar because less than a week later, I had a phone call going, ‘Rob Doherty would really like to meet you,’” Natalie continued. “There was kind of like a big secret as to why. They didn’t want to go into detail. So I was like, ‘This is weird because I just watched the show for the first time on the plane on the way over.”
Just like she helped sculpt her role on Showtime series “The Tudors” (where she played Anne Boleyn), Natalie helped craft the “Elementary” version of Irene, and she shared details of her input, with Access, as well as hinted at what’s ahead in the show’s season finale, which airs tonight at 9 PM on CBS. Natalie also addressed whether she thinks her “Game of Thrones” character, Margaery Tyrell is on par with Varys and Littlefinger, or just plain sincere (or maybe both!).
AccessHollywood.com: You were involved in the decision to make Irene an American like she is in the novels. How did that come about?
Natalie Dormer: I talked to Rob about it and I was like, ‘Why not?’ (Laughs). Originally, she was. Irene Adler was a Jersey girl. … I was like, ‘Well, let me just play her American.’… The cool thing about Irene Adler is you don’t really know who she is or where she comes from. … If you look into the novels or the incarnations of her — she’s a bit of a con woman, a bit of a wily one herself, so she has an accent, but you can’t quite place it, so I [thought], if I can do some kind of general American accent that is like, ‘What is that? Where is she from?’ — I was really curious [about] the idea of doing that, especially as it’s a British Sherlock in the show.
Access: There is something fascinating about this Renaissance woman, con woman, who is American, who is the one who captured the heart of this [genius] British man…
Natalie: I was in New York even before I went to do ‘Elementary’ because I was there with the ‘Game of Thrones’ press tour and I’m so impressed with like East Coast women. London women, we’re emancipated… we’re waving the flag and we know what we want and we’re ambitious, but I don’t know, there’s almost something always slightly apologetic about us British women, even when we do it. … Like an emancipated, ambitious, professional East Coast woman is very impressive and she can have a flare and a charisma in your characterization of her that is just sort of innate to coming from that part of the world so I was struck by the idea of doing that.
Access: Speaking about the artistry of Irene in the show, Sherlock starts flipping out the second he walks in the room and he sees the paintings. Are we going to find out what they represent or is that left to our imagination?
Natalie: I don’t think it’s so much to do with what the paintings are. I think it’s to do with him being able to recognize her work and then it’s just like creeping up that she’s alive and there she is around the corner. … The love of your life, who you think has been dead for the last 18 months, and you could have sworn that you stood like, next to a puddle of her blood, is suddenly there in front of your eyes. Jonny played it so well. … Obviously the whole spiraling decent into addiction was due to the loss of Irene, so it’s that wonderful humanizing thing of — even someone who is on such a high level, higher echelons than the rest of humanity, such as Sherlock, has a vulnerability and a fragility because of being in love or because of who he cares for, which is a very human thing. It’s something we can all identify with. Love, it can be our greatest strength and it can make us vulnerable and weak as well… So her turning up is going to show the audience and Watson a side of Sherlock that you haven’t seen for 21 episodes
Access: How much are we going to see of the torture Irene went through, of being a captive of someone?
Natalie: That’s the cool thing about the show — it doesn’t waste too much time in the past. It’s a really fast moving two hours in the present. The interesting thing is the trauma that both Sherlock and Irene have been through. They’ve obviously both been through the most incredible trauma within the last 18 months and been incarcerated in different ways. … It’s that interesting idea of — you’re as close to another human being as you can possibly be — they’re your lover, they’re your soul mate… and then you get separated and you both go through trauma and then you meet up and you’re strangers. And then, it’s that interesting idea of how much of that person that you knew and that was such a big part of your identity is now a stranger in front of you, so it’s [a] very fraught, interesting, psychologically explorative finale as well. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of cool action at the end as well, but Rob balances so well the psychological with the physical in this finale. It’s a very intense, surreal situation for all three of them to be in. It’s kind of just this triangle of Watson, Irene and Sherlock.
Access: Rob was asked recently if Irene will appear in the Season 2 premiere, which is being shot in London. He said he didn’t know yet because they are still writing it. Are you open to returning?
Natalie: Well (laughs), all I can say is I am this side of the Atlantic. I have to be because of ‘Thrones.’ Shooting on ‘Thrones’ begins in July, but it’s serendipity that I’m on the right side of the Atlantic in case Rob wanted to use me again. So, who knows? I can’t say enough positive things about how much I enjoyed being a part of the ‘Elementary’ family for the time that I was. So, I would always be open to the idea of working with that fantastic cast and with Rob again, definitely.
Access: Speaking of ‘Game of Thrones,’ do you think your character, Margaery Tyrell, is as smart or as conniving or as manipulative as Littlefinger or Varys? She definitely makes you think she’s a very clever power player.
Natalie: Yeah, she’s an intelligent woman, but she’s a pragmatist. You can’t survive, operating around the likes of Cersei and the rest of the Small Council if you haven’t got your wits about you. People ask me frequently about the sincerity of Margaery and I don’t think to be an intelligent political player, and to be a nice person need to be mutually exclusive. She’s just trying to be a shrewd and political. But is she a sincere, genuine human being as well? Yes, of course she is. The Tyrell’s are not the Lannisters (laughs). And Sophie [Turner, who plays Sansa Stark] and I have had this conversation before that in another circumstance, it would be highly likely that Sansa and Margaery would be just straight, pure, no agenda friends. It’s only because Margaery is put in a very particular situation by her family that she needs to operate the way she does.
Access: George R.R. Martin’s book series is not yet complete. With the future unwritten, have you thought about where Margaery might end up?
Natalie: No, genuinely, in so far as I don’t have time to speculate so far in the future. What I find very interesting, having met George and spoken to George, is that he is writing the last two books now very much aware in his head who the characters on the show are and it’s kind of this cross pollination [that] must be happening now in his head because he knows who his leads are on the show, and obviously he’s a producer on the show and he writes for the show as well. … I just find it fascinating what must be going on in George R.R. Martin’s head now because… how can he not be informed by all the cast members, not just me, but by everyone that now exists in 3-D real flesh. So I’m as curious as the fans of the books are as to what sort of difference that might make, or maybe it will make no difference at all. It will be interesting to see.
The “Elementary” two-hour Season 1 finale airs tonight at 9 PM on CBS. “Game of Thrones” continues its third season on Sunday at 9 PM on HBO.
-- Jolie Lash
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