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Game of Thrones & The Avengers Series Star Diana Rigg Passes Away

September 10, 2020 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
Diana Rigg

Diana Rigg, best known for playing Emma Peel in The Avengers and Olenna Tyrell in Game of Thrones, has passed away. The BBC reports that Rigg’s daughter, actress Rachael Stirling, has confirmed her mother passed away of cancer after being initially diagnosed in March. Rigg was 82 years old.

Before becoming famous in The Avengers, Rigg had already established herself as a theatrical veteran with roles in the Royal Shakespeare Company starting in 1959. Rigg also played a small role in the 1959 TV film adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a story she would revisit in Peter Hall’s 1968 film where she played Helena.

It was The Avengers that made Rigg a household name though, as she played the badass martial arts-using spy adventurer Emma Peel. The role, which Peel played from 1965 to 1968, turned Peel into a feminist and fashion icon at a pivotal time in history. Rigg replaced Elizabeth Shepherd in the role, who was dropped after two weeks of filming. Rigg auditioned without ever having seen the series and while it made her a star, she always said that she was uncomfortable with how the fame destroyed her privacy and disliked being considered a sex symbol. She held out for a pay increase for her second season/series, which led to her being vilified by the press in several quarters. She did not come back for a third season and moved on from there.

After The Avengers, Rigg went on to become a Bond Girl — and the only woman to marry James Bond — in 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. She proceeded to rack up a huge list of credits on screen and stage, earning an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie for the 1997 UK adaptation of Rebecca.

She received a total of eight additional Emmy nominations in her career: two for The Avengers and four for the role that would make her most famous to modern audiences, that of Olenna Tyrell in Game of Thrones. As the matriarch of House Tyrell, the “Queen of Thorns” was a character with a barbed wit that sparred with some of the biggest names in the show — most of them Lannisters like Cersei, Jamie, and Tyrion. Much like The Avengers, she never watched Game of Thrones before or after appearing in it.

Rigg’s final roles are still to come; she had completed filming on the upcoming drama series Black Narcissus for the BBC and FX, as well as Edgar Wright’s psychological horror film Last Night in Soho which is set for release in April.

On behalf of 411, our condolences to the family, friends, and legion of fans of Dame Rigg. She will most certainly be missed.