Natalie Dormer (born 11 February 1982) is an English actress. Born and brought up in Berkshire, she was educated at Chiltern Edge Secondary School and Reading Blue Coat School, and trained at the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art in London. Her first professional acting role was in the Shakespeare comedy The Comedy of Errors in 2003. She made her screen debut in Lasse Hallstrom's romantic film Casanova (2005), followed by a small part in the dramedy Distant Shores (2005). She received widespread praise for her portrayal of Anne Boleyn on the Showtime series The Tudors (2007–08), and was nominated for two Gemini Awards for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Drama Series.
She made her stage debut at the Young Vic in 2010 in the play Sweet Nothings, and portrayed Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, Duchess of York in Madonna's film W.E. (2011) and Private Lorraine in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011). In 2012, her lead performance in After Miss Julie at the Young Vic attracted widespread critical acclaim. Dormer gained international attention with her performance of Margaery Tyrell on the HBO series Game of Thrones (2012–2016), for which she was nominated for two Screen Actors Guild Awards (2014–2015). She is also known for playing Irene Adler/Moriarty on the CBS series Elementary (2013–15), Cressida in the science-fiction adventure films The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 (2014) and Part 2 (2015), and Sara Price/Jess Price in The Forest (2016).
Dormer was born in Reading, Berkshire, the daughter of Claire Richards and Gary Dormer. She is of partly Norwegian, and half Welsh, descent.
Dormer attended Chiltern Edge Secondary School before moving to Reading Blue Coat School, historically an independent boys' school that admits girls in the sixth form. She has said that she was the victim of bullying while at school, but "still to this day [she] can't place why". At school, Dormer was head girl, a first class student, vice-captain of the school netball team, and travelled the world with her school's public speaking team.
During her school years, Dormer trained in dance at the Allenova School of Dancing. She describes herself as the "academic hopeful" of the family and was provisionally offered a place to study history at Cambridge; but, in her A-level History exam, she did not achieve the A grade she needed to attend. Dormer decided she would audition for drama schools and decided to train at the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art in London.
Six months after graduating from Webber Douglas, Dormer won the role of Victoria in Casanova. This was her film debut and it was released in 2005. The director, Lasse Hallström, was so impressed with Dormer's comedic timing that he had the script writer expand her part. In 2005, Dormer had a small part in Distant Shores. After the filming of Casanova, Dormer was out of work for ten months, which she ascribes to "bad representation". She was attached to an independent film which kept being delayed because of financial problems. Taken off the audition circuit, Dormer waitressed and worked in data entry to support herself. She has said that her being out of work for so long "was the best lesson I could have had in the first 12 months of my career".
In 2007 and 2008, Dormer played Anne Boleyn in the first two seasons of The Tudors, for which she received highly positive reviews. Robert Abele of LA Weekly wrote: "Natalie Dormer presents a painterly exquisiteness and complexity in her portrayal of Anne Boleyn... her enigmatic, time-halting loveliness is a boon for The Tudors, and damn near worth losing your head over". After her character's death at the end of the second season, The Boston Herald noted: "Dormer gave Anne Boleyn life, making her not just a beautiful schemer but a rebellious, defiantly independent tragic hero in the tradition of Rebel Without a Cause and Cool Hand Luke... her departure from The Tudors leaves a tremendous void."
In 2008, Dormer played Moira Nicholson in Agatha Christie's Marple: "Why Didn't They Ask Evans?" and appeared in a number of films such as Fence Walker and City of Life. Dormer's Marple appearance aired in the US in the summer of 2009 as part of the PBS Masterpiece Mystery anthology series. Also in that year, she appeared in Incendiary, but her scenes were cut from the final film. In March 2010, she made her stage debut at the Young Vic theatre in London as Mizi in the play Sweet Nothings. In The Observer, theatre critic Susannah Clapp praised the performances of the cast and wrote: "Natalie Dormer is lissome as a dirty, delightful gadabout, pushing aside an entire chess game in order to put down her hat".
After six months of playing Mizi, Dormer went on to film some new roles, including the Duchess of York in Madonna's film W.E., Pvt. Lorraine in Captain America: The First Avenger, and Niamh Cranitch in the BBC court drama Silk. She then went on to her next stage role of Pat in .45 at Hampstead Theatre in November 2010. She returned to The Tudors as Anne Boleyn in a dream sequence for the fourth and final season in mid-2010.
From 2012 until 2016 Dormer played Margaery Tyrell in the HBO fantasy TV series Game of Thrones. Dormer, along with the rest of the ensemble cast, was nominated for four Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series in 2012, 2014, 2015, and 2016, respectively, and the cast was awarded the Empire Hero Award in 2015 by the British film magazine Empire. For her performance in the third season of the show, Dormer won the Ewwy Award for Best Supporting Actress - Drama.
In March 2012, she returned to the Young Vic to play the title role in After Miss Julie by Patrick Marber. Her performance received critical acclaim, with reviews describing her as "little short of sensational", "outstanding", and "the perfect Miss Julie". The online theatre magazine Exeunt wrote that her portrayal of Miss Julie contained "all the anger, desire, wit, loneliness, merriment, melancholy and desperation of the casts of several plays together... Dormer has still more presence and eerie beauty than is apparent from her appearances on-screen, and she shape-shifts almost supernaturally between seductress, child, and tormentor." In March 2013, she played the Lady Door in the radio play of Neverwhere, based on the novel by Neil Gaiman. Later that year, she appeared in the car racing drama Rush and the thriller The Counselor. She also appeared in A Long Way From Home. In 2013, Dormer played Irene Adler in the final three episodes of the first season of the CBS series Elementary; she reprised the role in the second season. Dormer played Cressida in the films The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 and Part 2. In preparation for the role, she shaved the left side of her head.
In September 2014, Deadline.com announced that Dormer has been cast in Screen Gems' upcoming action thriller Patient Zero, alongside Matt Smith and Game of Thrones co-star John Bradley-West. The film is to be directed by Oscar-winning filmmaker Stefan Ruzowitzky and based on a script by Mike Le. It is set to be released in 2017. Dormer starred in the Lava Bear Films/David S. Goyer-produced horror film The Forest, directed by multiple award-winning music video and short-film director Jason Zada, as his feature film debut. Focus Features has the North American distribution rights to the film, which was released in January 2016.
In November 2014, it was announced that Dormer was to star as the scandalous 18th-century noblewoman Lady Worsley in a BBC drama called The Scandalous Lady W, based on the book Lady Worsley's Whim by the historian Hallie Rubenhold; it aired in August 2015. Dormer is to star in In Darkness, a revenge thriller. The film was co-written by Dormer and has been in production since 2015. In February 2017, it was announced that Dormer was cast as schoolteacher Mrs Hester Appleyard in Picnic at Hanging Rock, an adaptation of the 1967 Australian novel of the same name by Joan Lindsay. The 6 episode feature will air on Amazon Prime.
Since 2011, Dormer has been engaged to film director Anthony Byrne, whom she met in Dublin while filming The Tudors in 2007. Dormer has stated that Cate Blanchett has been an influence in her career as an actress.
Despite rumors that Dormer is related to historical lady-in-waiting Jane Dormer, who served Queen Mary I, they have no known familial connection. On this subject, Dormer stated, "There was a woman, called Jane Dormer, in the Royal Court who happened to have the same family name as me, but I think that's as far as it goes."