Natalie Dormer sheds light on dark spaces with new film

NATALIE Dormer knew she’d never feel fully ready for her screenwriting debut, writes Georgia Humphreys.

But she took the plunge — and the result is a thriller, In Darkness, (about a blind woman who gets caught up in a mysterious death) which she penned and co-produced with her fiance, Irish director Anthony Byrne.

Natalie Dormer (right) with co-star Emily Ratajkowski, and her fiance, Irish director Anthony Byrne, at the premiere of In Darkness. Picture: Kevin Winter/Getty

And now, the Reading-born star, 36, has some advice for other actresses who want to follow suit. “This is a big generalisation, but maybe, as women, we are more nervous when we don’t feel quite ready of, ‘Oh, I’m being modest and self-doubting about that’,” says the Game of Thrones star, who also plays the lead role in the thriller.

“And the answer is, jump in with both feet. What’s the worst that is actually going to happen? You’re going to embarrass yourself slightly? I mean, there’s worse things. And the only way you learn is by making mistakes.”

Dormer was spurred on to write In Darkness by Byrne, with whom she has been engaged since 2011.

It was him turning round to me saying, ‘You write this with me. I believe you and I can write this together’, and I was like, ‘OK!’

The story follows blind pianist Sofia (Dormer), who overhears a struggle which results in the death of her neighbour, Veronique (played by Emily Ratajkowski). When Sofia meets Veronique’s father, a Serbian businessman accused of being a war criminal, she finds herself drawn into a dangerous world of corruption.

Dormer is honest about what it was like co-writing the script with 42-year-old Byrne, who she met while they were both working on hit series The Tudors.

“It was interesting,” she says. “It was a steep learning curve. Anthony had written his own material before, he knew he worked best by riffing off someone. But then we also learnt quite quickly not to write while eye-balling each other at the same time. It was better to do it separately and swap drafts of certain scenes and sequences.”

Interestingly, she’s since asked Game of Thrones writers David Benioff and DB Weiss about their process of working together.

She recalls: “David Benioff said to me, ‘You [and Anthony] were writing in the same room to begin with?! You idiot!’”

Dormer has had a variety of high-profile roles in recent years — yes, Margaery Tyrell in Game of Thrones, but also Cressida in the Hunger Games film series.

Then there’s the much-talked about TV adaptation of iconic Australian novel Picnic At Hanging Rock, which began on BBC Two this week, and on RTÉ next Monday. But when it comes to In Darkness, she found portraying someone without sight an entirely different acting challenge.

“I completely underestimated it,” she admits. “Not being able to make eye contact with your co-stars is tough.”

Overall, she reckons the experience of making In Darkness has made her a better actor.

“There’s no greater lesson than starting a project right from the beginning and following it all the way through to the edit, the sound design, and the promotion, right to the very end. It’s the whole whammy,” she says.

In Darkness is in select cinemas now

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