'Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1': Natalie Dormer on Cressida's Noble Propaganda

We talk to 'Hunger Games: Mockingjay' and 'Game of Thrones' star Natalie Dormer about the spin of media and the upcoming slate of superheroine films.

The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 1 Interviews - Natalie Dormer

Even before The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 hit theaters, Game of Thrones star Natalie Dormer was making headlines (pun intended) when an under-shave haircut for the film pushed her character - Capitol filmmaker-turned-rebel, Cressida - to the forefront of the new characters being introduced in the third installment.

However, as indicated by her continued outspoken views on the need for "gender irrelevancy" in the TV/Movie industry, Dormer herself may frown upon the fact her character's hairdo was the dominant topic of the conversation. After all, in the Mockingjay book, Cressida has one of the more dynamic arcs of the supporting cast.

While at the NYC press day for Mockingjay - Part 1, we sat down with Dormer to talk about the deeper (less superficial) points of Cressida's character, as well as her walk on the line between documentarian, rebel, and propaganda filmmaker. We also followed up with her about her comments at Comic-Con regarding the need for more strong female-led films, now that big tentpole projects like Wonder Woman, and Captain Marvel are realities.

The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 1 Interviews - Natalie Dormer
Natalie Dormer as Cressida in 'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1'

Screen Rant:  So the first thing I thought was very interesting about your character in this film was even though she exists in the source material, I think one of the most pivotal things about how we receive her onscreen has to do with your mannerisms about how you approach all these things - like the propaganda films. I know in our culture right now it’s such a…I mean you have a film like Nightcrawler that kind of looks at the darker side of when everybody is taking a camera and filming these tragedies. It was very pivotal to see how you depicted that, because the wrong way you could slide into something like you're a TMZ producer or something like that. Can you just talk about where you drew inspiration from for this character, and how to kind of depict her onscreen in the right way?

Natalie Dormer:  Sure. There is a moral line to walk when you have that responsibility of packaging and spinning a message. The interesting thing to know about Cressida is she has a genuine political conviction to overthrow tyrannical, repressive government of Snow.

So it’s almost irrelevant to her to begin with whether Katniss Everdeen wants to be or can be the Mockingjay. The revolution needs a Mockingjay. And so, Cressida wants to do that for her home. She wants to do that for the populous.

If you are asking me about general spin:  it’s everywhere. A camera never gets pointed anywhere without a subjective angle being taken. It’s, at its height, most important when there is a war cause going on. I drew a lot of my inspiration from just watching a lot of footage. There is a lot of stuff happening around the world right now that we see on the news. And even the way that it’s portrayed in London, where I’m from, in contrast to how it’s portrayed here in The States, or in France, or in German news, where we also shot Mockingjay. Even if you are talking about Western democracies, there is still an angle and a position taken that is reflective of that country’s interests, of that populous’s interests.

So, for me, I love those big themes that don’t talk down to an adolescent audience to think about that stuff, because anyone with a smartphone now can take a video and send a message out. So we all have to be responsible and think about what we are doing.

That was a really, really long answer to your question, but I hope you can cut that into some sense.

Captain Marvel Movie 2018 Release Date
Captain Marvel (Coming in 2018)

Screen Rant:  No. that was a very good answer to my question! The last thing I’ll ask is during Comic-Con this year, during The Women who Kick Ass panel, you were very vocal about the fact that TV has kind of jumped ahead of movies in terms of offering well-rounded, complex female characters. Ironically enough, since that time, it seems that…

Natalie Dormer:  It’s happened…

Screen Rant:  …the same people who were headlining that venue, DC, Marvel, have kind of put this now to the forefront. They are like, “All right. We have to get out here and kind of make movies that feature complex, strong central female characters.” Have you had any talks or had any thoughts about jumping into this transition? Have you talked about maybe stepping into a superheroine role? Are you thinking about playing in that sandbox now?

Natalie Dormer:  [laughs] I will play in a sandbox where there is good work and good material. I’m interested in a quality in cinema and I think it’s finally…I agree with you. I think it’s finally catching on. The beautiful thing about Julianne Moore’s role in this movie, President Coin, as well as Cressida, could easily have been played by men. They could have been male characters. I saw Interstellar the other day. The Anne Hathaway character and the Jessica Chastain character, they could have easily been male roles and they are not. I think that is what we are aiming for, ultimately, is when it becomes more about gender irrelevance it’s more about just who the character is and the journey they are on. I think that’s what we’re aiming for as an industry, as an audience, and just as people.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 reviews

For more of what the Mockingjay - Part 1 cast had to say, check out our other interviews:

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 will be in theaters everywhere on Friday November 21st.

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