Legendary actress Dame Diana Rigg, who most recently played Lady Olenna Tyrell in HBO’s Game of Thrones, died at the age of 82, The BBC reported on September 10. A cause of death was not immediately known.
“She died peacefully early this morning. She was at home with her family who have asked for privacy at this difficult time,” her agent told the BBC.
Rigg, who was nominated for one Golden Globe, was best known for her appearances in On Her Majesty’s Secret Server (1969), The Avengers (1965-1968) and The Painted Veil (2006), as noted by her profile on the Internet Movie Database.
In 1994, she won a Tony Award for Best Actress for her portrayal in Medea, where she performed in New York and London theater. “Ms. Rigg sees Medea as a woman of restless intellect,” The New York Times wrote in their review, according to Variety. “An orgiastic fervor informed Ms. Caldwell’s performance; she had a savage growl in her voice. A passionate sense of injustice propels Ms. Rigg, whose voice never entirely loses its intrinsic musicality.”
Rigg also received Tony nominations for her parts in Abelard and Heloise (1972) and The Misanthrope (1975). Rigg received eight Emmy nominations and won in 1997 for playing Mrs. Danvers in Rebecca.
Another Actress Was Originally Supposed to Play Emma Peel
RIP Diana Rigg..one classy Lady. 😔 pic.twitter.com/TQCDWI5lTF
— here i am…stuck in the middle with you… (@bastardly_dick) September 10, 2020
When Rigg won the role of Emma Peel in The Avengers, she had actually taken over for another actress. Producer Brian Clemens wasn’t pleased with the way the original actress, Elizabeth Shepherd, was playing the role.
“She’s not a bad actress,” Clemens recalled of Shepherd, according to the BBC. “But she just didn’t have a sense of humor at all–that was essential in The Avengers. So we scrapped what we’d shot and got rid of her and then tested, and out of the tests came Diana Rigg, who was head and shoulders above everybody else.”
Rigg Did Not Enjoy The Outfit Emma Peel Had to Wear
RIP, Dame Diana Rigg pic.twitter.com/XIYtYCK867
— Paul Burton (@paulburton73) September 10, 2020
Rigg struggled to deal with the fame that came along with The Avengers, leading her to spend only two years on the series, the BBC wrote. She would hide in the bathroom to get away from the crowds. Rigg also didn’t want to let her theater career fall by the wayside.
“Some weeks I’d spend four days on the set of The Avengers and then head up to Stratford to be Regan to Olivier’s Lear,” she once said, according to the publication.
She also wasn’t the biggest fan of her outfit. “The leather catsuit I wore in The Avengers was a total nightmare; it took a good 45 minutes to get unzipped to go to the loo,” she was quoted as saying on IMBD. “It was like struggling in and out of a wet-suit.”
Once I got into the jersey catsuits, they were very easy to wear but you had to watch for baggy knees; there is nothing worse. I got a lot of very odd fan mail while I was in that show, but my mum used to enjoy replying to it. Some of the men who wrote to me must have been a bit startled because she would offer really motherly advice. I would get a letter from a teenage boy, say, who was overexcited and my mother would write back saying: “My daughter is far too old for you and what you really need is a good run around the block.”