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Before Diana Rigg passed away at 82 last week, she left an indelible character in her wake – playing HBO’s Game of Thrones character Olenna Tyrell. Rigg's Olenna was the matriarch of House Tyrell, and at one point, its only surviving member. If you thought Olenna was feisty, you might be surprised to learn the actress was similar at times. Once while filming her iconic role, Rigg hilariously even stormed off the set in the slowest way possible.
Yes, this really happened on the set of Game of Thrones, and one cast member has recalled the moment with tremendous affection. Jessica Henwick played Nymeria, aka one of the fan-loathed "Sand Snakes" on the show and recently revealed how a Game of Thrones line led to a highly memorable moment on set. Speaking in the book Fire Cannot Kill a Dragon (via EW), Henwick recalled Olenna meeting with the Sand Snakes' leader, Ellaria, in Season 6 only to quickly to shut down the young Sand Snakes by saying:
Oh, do shut up…Let the grown women speak.
That line and so many more procured Diana Rigg's Olenna Tyrell legend status on Game of Thrones. So, what happened to make Rigg walk off the set? While they were filming the scene mentioned above, Henwick learned that when the actress was ready to roll, she was ready to roll. Jessica Henwick also shared:
She walked onto the set, and she went, 'I’m ready now!' A cameraman came over and went, 'Well, okay, but we haven’t finished setting up.' She interrupted him and said, 'Roll the cameras!' And she just started doing her lines. She did two takes, and then the guy came over and was like, 'Great, now we’re going to do a close-up.' And she just stood up and she went, 'I’m done!' Now, she can’t walk fast. She has to be helped. So basically we just sat there and watched as Diana Rigg effectively did her own version of storming off the set, but it was at 0.1 miles per hour. She cracked me up. I loved her.
Age can make a stormy walk off set less speedy, albeit no less dramatic. I wish that Game of Thrones would release the footage of Diana Rigg's theatrical exit. It had to be something to behold and to think that was not the last of Rigg's best lines or moments on the show. After all, Olena went toe-to-toe with Cersei.
Diana Rigg's Olenna Tyrell did not save the best for last, though. Fans were forever in Olenna's debt for ending the tyrannical reign of the evil Joffrey via poison in Season 4, and smacking down several characters using her sharp tongue. Personally speaking, Game of Thrones was not the same without her squaring off with Charles Dance's Tywin.
Of course, Olenna's advice was not always on the money. Olenna’s words to Daenerys helped fuel Daenerys going full-dragon after Olenna urged her to embrace her true nature. A word of advice that had cataclysmic results as Game of Thrones ended. As for the Sand Snakes, they went over like a lead balloon with fans most times. Hence, Olenna Tyrell's verbal smackdown listed above was arguably one of their largest on-screen highlights.
Let's face it, Game of Thrones was a little low on satisfaction as it came to a close. Unfortunately, Olenna Tyrell was not there for the final season as it desperately needed her wisdom and one-liners.
The passing of Game of Thrones' saucy powerhouse did not go unnoticed by her co-stars, many of whom paid their respects to her on social media. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who shared Diana Rigg's final scene as Olenna Tyrell on Game of Thrones, was among those to do so. She seemed to be a respected actor and much-loved presence on set.
To relive Diana Rigg's scene-stealing moments as Olenna Tyrell, you can stream every season of Game of Thrones on HBO Max. Diana Rigg's on-screen journey starts in Season 3 and continues from there. While you wait for the franchise to "be a dragon" with the spinoff, House of the Dragon, check out this fall's premieres.