Diana Rigg: An Industry Legend
Eoin O’Leary writes about the acting work of the late great Diana Rigg.
The late Dame Diana Rigg is nowadays best known for her Emmy-nominated performance as the sardonic Lady Olenna from fantasy series Game of Thrones. Jostling with over a hundred named characters for our attention, her devastating retorts often make you forget that hers was a relatively minor role; only appearing in 18 of the show’s 73 episodes. Dame Rigg’s dry, witty delivery steals every scene and showcases a comedic genius at the top of her game.
But to focus on one role would be a disservice to an icon whose fame reaches back over half a century before her death last month. She was first launched into the spotlight as the spy Emma Peel in The Avengers (the 60s spy TV show, not the superhero franchise). Her striking wardrobe and fighting prowess cemented her as a fashion icon. Behind the scenes, she was a force to be reckoned with too, demanding a pay rise to match her male co-star Patrick MacNee. This resilience would stay with Dame Rigg for the rest of her career, marking her as a formidable woman who knew her worth and would not let anything get in the way.
Dame Rigg’s dry, witty delivery steals every scene and showcases a comedic genius at the top of her game.
She soon left The Avengers to star as Countess Teresa di Vicenzo in the 1969 James Bond film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. As the first ‘Bond girl’ to marry the philandering spy, her death scene remains a uniquely moving moment in the franchise. Diana Rigg quickly became a mainstay of British television and film, appearing in everything from A Midsummer Night’s Dream to Doctor Who and The Great Muppet Caper.
An endlessly talented and indomitable performer, Dame Diana Rigg leaves not only her phenomenal roles for us to remember, but the memory of a no-nonsense trailblazer who demanded respect. She will be dearly missed.