Natalie Dormer Surprised That Themes of Female Independence on Her New Series Are Still Relevant

‘It’s scary,’ says the ‘Game of Thrones’ alum after finding out that the events set in 1900 on ‘Picnic at Hanging Rock’ still resonate for the modern woman in 2018.

Actress Natalie Dormer was surprised that issues central to her period drama “Picnic at Hanging Rock” are still just as pertinent today. The “Game of Thrones” star leads a TV remake of the 1975 Australian film, an adaptation of Joan Lindsay’s 1967 novel. The six-episode limited series, made by Amazon Studios, centers on the disappearance of several schoolgirls and their teacher Mrs. Appleyard, during a picnic at Australian beauty spot Hanging Rock, Victoria, on Valentine’s Day in 1900, and the subsequent effect on the local community.

Although the series is set at the turn of the 20th century, the 36-year-old actress found its themes still resonate for the modern woman. “It’s scary how 1900 and 2018, those themes of female independence – emotionally, spiritually, financially – finding a sense of identity, not needing a man, not being defined by being what your peer group suggests you should be, peer culture, authority rebellion, spirit and voice within those constructs (are similar),” she told Variety. “I think in a highly anxious time for young men and women those anxieties of ‘Who the f**k am I?’ are as relevant to our characters in 1900 as they are in 2018.”

Natalie was the top pick for director Larysa Kondracki to play the strict, buttoned-up Mrs. Appleyard, the stern headmistress of a women’s college. And the director wrote her a personal letter encouraging her to sign up for the role.

“It said, ‘I need this woman not to be an archetype. I need her to be three-dimensional, psychological, littered with flaws and fears. And I need the humanity of her so that she’s not just a b**ch,’ ” Natalie said of the note. “As an actor that’s just delicious to play – as the layers fall off, to keep scrambling to try to maintain control,” she smiled.

“Picnic at Hanging Rock” premieres May 25 on Amazon.

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