RIP Diana Rigg: Her most iconic roles from ‘GoT’ to ‘James Bond’
Last week, the iconic action star Diana Rigg passed away. She was 82 when she passed on and left a prolific film legacy. Her obituary from the BBC rightly describes her as having “excelled at playing sharp-witted female characters who carried steel fists in velvet gloves.”
Diana Rigg was born near Doncaster as Enid Diana Elizabeth Rigg. She moved to India when she was a toddler, where her father worked for the Maharaja of Bikaner as a railway engineer. She spoke Hindi as a second language when she returned. From joining the Royal Shakespeare Company to earning several acting awards, she had a long, illustrious career.
Rigg worked until shortly before her death, appearing in a remake of All Creatures Great and Small as her last role. “She spent her last months joyfully reflecting on her extraordinary life, full of love, laughter and a deep pride in her profession,” Diana Rigg’s daughter, Rachael Stirling said.
Let’s take a look at some of the highlights of Diana Rigg’s career.
Diana Rigg studied acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art after attending a Moravian Church-run boarding school in Yorkshire. After completing her studies, she joined the Royal Shakespeare Company. Notably, she was given accolades for her performance as Cordelia in King Lear before becoming a TV star.
Rigg also worked with some big names on stage. She played Regan in Lawrence Olivier’s production of Hamlet and Lady Macbeth opposite Anthony Hopkins in Macbeth. She would go on to win a Tony for her performance in Medea in 1990, a BAFTA, and was created Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire the same year.
Diana Rigg was a rare female action hero in the 1960s. She starred in the British spy show The Avengers (no relation to the MCU), taking down bad guys as Emma Peel in go-go boots and a black, leather catsuit. She became known as a feminist icon in the UK during Women’s Lib.
Rigg made her television debut in The Avengers after Honor Blackman dropped out to play Pussy Galore in Goldfinger. She ran the screen test and got the part, even though it was promised to another actress. Product Brian Clements cast her because she brought a sense of humor to the role.
If Diana Rigg’s catsuit looks familiar to you, take another look at Michelle Pfeiffer’s costume in Batman Returns, or Scarlett Johannson as Black Widow in the MCU. Their catsuits were inspired by Rigg’s.
Mrs. James Bond
Diana Rigg played Tracy, the only Bond Girl to get James Bond to the chapel in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. She starred opposite George Lazenby, and reportedly feuded with him while on set. A rumor circulated that Rigg would eat garlic before love scenes with Lazenby but she denied it.
“The only thing you need to know about me is that I pay my debts,” she famously said to James Bond.
A well-rounded career
After her roles in The Avengers and a Bond film, Diana Rigg wanted to round out her repertoire. She starred in a screen adaptation of the musical A Little Night Music with Elizabeth Taylor.
“My ambition was to cover all sides of the business. Elizabeth was ravishing and very nice but she was interminably late,” Diana Rigg recalled about working with Taylor.
Diana Rigg recounted working with Taylor in British Legends Of Stage And Screen, a series of interviews from actors who worked during Britain’s postwar years, including Michael Gambon, Christopher Lee, and Ian McKellen.
Fans absolutely adored Diana Rigg on HBO’s hit show Game of Thrones as the sassy matriarch of the Tyrell clan. From watching her take down Cersei (after Cersei accuses Oleanna Tyrell of making veiled threats, Tyrell cuts her off by asking “what veil”), to scheming Joffrey’s death, Rigg’s character was certainly one of our favorites from the series.
As evidenced by the numerous videos of the “X times the Queen of Thorns threw shade” on YouTube, we could spend all day watching Diana Rigg’s performance.