Diana Rigg, 'Games Of Thrones' and 'The Avengers' Actress, Dead at 82
By Antoinette Bueno
Stephane Cardinale/Corbis via Getty Images
Dame Diana Rigg, who was known for her roles in The Avengers, Game of Thrones and the James Bond film On Her Majesty's Secret Service, has died. She was 82 years old.
Rigg died on Thursday with her family present, her agent told the BBC.
"She died peacefully early this morning," the statement reads. "She was at home with her family who have asked for privacy at this difficult time."
Rigg was married twice, to the Israeli painter Menachem Gueffen from 1973 to 1976, and to theater producer Archibald Stirling from 1982 to 1990. She and Stirling shared a daughter, Rachael Stirling, who is also an actress. On Thursday, her daughter told the Associated Press that Rigg died of cancer after she was diagnosed in March.
"[She] spent her last months joyfully reflecting on her extraordinary life, full of love, laughter and a deep pride in her profession. I will miss her beyond words," Stirling said.
Rigg became famous when she played secret agent Emma Peel in the British 1960s television series The Avengers from 1961 to 1969. She became a Bond girl in 1969, when she played James Bond's only wife, Tracy, opposite George Lazenby. Game of Thrones will also remember Rigg for her role as Olenna Tyrell, appearing in 18 episodes of the HBO hit.
ET spoke to Rigg's Game of Thrones co-star, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, in August 2018, and he talked about working with Rigg on her final scene on the show in the episode titled "The Queen’s Justice." His character, Jaime Lannister, carries out Olenna's execution by offering her a quick, painless death by poison in a moment of mercy. But right before she takes it, she confesses to killing Joffrey (Jack Gleeson), catching Jaime completely off-guard.
"It was a great scene," Coster-Waldau said at the time. "But of course, the beauty of the scene is that at the very end, she flips the power dynamic. It was very thrilling to be a part of Diana's last scene on Thrones."
Aside from Rigg's high-profile on-screen roles, the British actress also had a thriving career in theater, winning the 1994 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for her title role in Medea. ET spoke to Rigg in 2018 about her Tony Award nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical that year, thanks to her celebrated performance as Mrs. Higgins in Lincoln Center Theater's revival of My Fair Lady. Rigg said that despite her Game of Thrones popularity, her first love was still theater.
"A program as far-reaching as this one, in terms of its audience -- it's got to be good," she acknowledged of Game of Thrones. "For me the priority is theater, but I don't take the view, as some people do, that television is a sort of poorer cousin. If anything I do outside of theater feeds interest in the theater, then hooray."
She also shared her plans at the time to spend time with her grandson after work slowed down.
"I'll tell you what I'm anticipating: being reunited with my grandson," Rigg told ET. "He was born a year ago in March, and we've been separated such a long time. We do use Skype and wave at each other, but I'm missing his first steps, all those things. So that's what I'm really looking forward to."