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The Real Reason Natalie Dormer Left Game Of Thrones

In May 2019, Game of Thrones came to an end after eight seasons and 10 years on television. Though the show's final season meant that series stars Emilia Clarke and Kit Harington had to say goodbye to Daenerys Targaryen and Jon Snow, some actors on Thrones had said farewell to their characters long before the last episode. (This came with the territory, as Thrones made a habit out of killing off characters in often gruesome ways – if you're a fan, you're probably still traumatized from massacres like season 3's Red Wedding.)

One such Game of Thrones alum is Natalie Dormer, the British-born beauty who played conniving, clever Margaery of House Tyrell from the second season until her character met an untimely end during the sixth season. After a literally short-lived marriage to Renly Baratheon (Gethin Anthony), Margaery set her sights even higher: Renly's nephew and King of the Seven Kingdoms, Joffrey Baratheon (Jack Gleeson). However, she gets more than she bargained for with Joffrey, a sadistic product of Lannister inbreeding. But when he also meets an early death at their wedding, Margaery ends up married to Joffrey's younger brother and the next king, Tommen (Dean Charles Chapman). The Lannister matriarch, Cersei (Lena Headey) isn't exactly thrilled with Margaery's calculations, so she concocts a plan to rid herself of the Tyrell heirs once and for all, blowing up King's Landing's entire Sept of Baelor as the city gathers to see Cersei's trial.

Margaery may have met her end, but as it turns out, Dormer had some agency over her exit, which she opened up about once the sixth season came to an end. Here's the real reason Natalie Dormer left Game of Thrones after season 6.

Margaery's explosive ending

While Margaery's abrupt end may have surprised fans, Dormer was in on the secret for quite some time, as she was the one who originally requested to be released from her Game of Thrones responsibilities. 

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly in the aftermath of the season 6 finale, the actress revealed the story behind her exit. When asked when she got the infamous Thrones phone call of death, Dormer detailed that she had asked showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss to let her go from the series "earlier than usual" so she could pursue another project. That didn't end up panning out, but Benioff and Weiss did let Dormer know that her time on Game of Thrones would be coming to an end sooner rather than later.

"I preempted the phone call because, in true Natalie Dormer-style, I tried to fit a million projects into a single year. I requested [while making season 5 that showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss] release me from working on the show earlier than usual so I could do another project, and they ended up phoning me — and that was The Call. But I got it six months ahead of normal," she said. "They were like, 'We weren't going to tell you this for a few more months, but we're not going to release you now, so you can't do that job you really want to do and we're really sorry about that. But on the bright side, we are going to release you proper in the not-so-distant future.' It was good news, bad news — no you can't do this, but don't worry, you're going to have lots more opportunities very soon."

As for how Margaery's arc wrapped up, Dormer was a fan: "I thought it was really clever. I really did. It's not an echo of anything you've seen in the last six years." She also called it the "perfect way for Margaery to leave the show, stating, "She's given a platform to say that she was right, as she always is. But because the power was taken from her, she couldn't do anything about it."

Natalie Dormer's post-Thrones success

Even during her Game of Thrones contract, Dormer kept busy. She portrayed Irene Adler on CBS' Elementary, a role she originated during the first season and reprised during the second, and also appeared in both final Hunger Games films as Cressida, a role that required her to shave part of her head.

After Thrones ended, Dormer continued working steadily, appearing on shows like Picnic at Hanging Rock and in films like Patient Zero, as well as projects like In Darkness, a thriller which she wrote and starred in. In August 2018, Dormer officially joined the Potterverse when she signed on to narrate a new History of Magic book for Pottermore, keeping her in the realm of fantasy. She also lent her voice to Netflix's popular series Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, and as of this writing, Dormer is preparing to play screen legend Vivien Leigh in Vivling, a miniseries about the famous Gone with the Wind star.

Thanks to Dormer's talent and incredible screen presence, nobody doubted that she would work again after Thrones, and it's clear that the sky is the limit for this indomitable star. If you need your Dormer fix soon, keep an eye out for her on the upcoming Showtime series Penny Dreadful: City of Angels.