Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

R.I.P. veteran actress Diana Rigg

Diana Rigg, 1978
Diana Rigg, 1978
Photo: Evening Standard/Hulton Archive (Getty Images)

Originally posted at 8:53 AM CST. -Ed.

Diana Rigg, the revered television, stage, and film actress who was most recently heralded for her role as Lady Olenna Tyrell in Game Of Thrones, has died. Per BBC News, her agent confirmed her death. Her daughter, Rachael Sterling, later released her own statement: “My Beloved Ma died peacefully in her sleep early this morning, at home, surrounded by family. She died of cancer diagnosed in March, and spent her last months joyfully reflecting on her extraordinary life, full of love, laughter and a deep pride in her profession. I will miss her beyond words.” She was 82 years old.

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A celebrated acting virtuoso, Dame Enid Diana Elizabeth Rigg began preparing for her time in the spotlight when she enrolled Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in 1955. Two years later she made her stage debut with The Caucasian Chalk Circle. After a stretch with the Royal Shakespeare Company between 1959 and 1964, she began to juggle film, TV, and stage parts, including King Lear and a bit part in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In 1965, she landed her big TV debut with The Avengers, where she starred as Emma Peel (and earned two Emmy nominations) until 1968. The role secured both her immovable place within the action genre and her status as a style icon—two very important elements that led to her casting in the sixth Bond film, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Starring alongside George Lazenby as Countess Tracy di Vicenzo—or Tracy Bond—she is still the only character to have married Bond onscreen.

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Rigg later debuted on Broadway 1971 as Heloïse in Abelard and Heloïse. The role garnered her first of three Tony Award nominations and quickly placed her on the path to stardom. Before long, the actress began building what would become a lengthy, decades-long roster of credits across the entertainment landscape. Anchored by a litany of award nominations between the BAFTAs, Drama Desk, Olivier, The Tonys, and others, Rigg was seen as a vivacious force of talent and verve. It’s what would ultimately make her a standout in Game Of Thrones, where she played the unflinching Lady Olenna Tyrell. A scene-stealer, Rigg was a fandom favorite for her wit and sheer nerve, which often resulted in a number of unforgettable lines. (“Tell Cersei, I want her to know it was me.”) If Olenna’s take-no-prisoners attitude earned her some heat, Rigg wasn’t bothered by it. “There are some actors who don’t like to play bad; they like to be liked. I love to be disliked,” she told BBC in 2019. “Olenna had the best lines, they were very kind with their scripts.”When she spoke to The A.V. Club in 2015, she was very complimentary of the writers responsible for her iconic prose. “I think they’ve got my measure as an actress,” she said. “And they write for that, which is great.”

Rigg will have one final appearance in Edgar Wright’s forthcoming feature Last Night In Soho, which is currently slated for a theatrical release on April 23, 2021. The director, a self-proclaimed “lifelong fan,” tweeted that “it was beyond a thrill to work with her on her final film.”

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