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|A Song of Ice and Fire character
Game of Thrones character
Diana Rigg as Olenna Tyrell
|Created by||George R. R. Martin|
|Portrayed by||Diana Rigg
(Game of Thrones)
|Aliases||The Queen of Thorns|
|Title||Dowager Lady of Highgarden|
Olenna Tyrell (née Redwyne), also known as "The Queen of Thorns", is a fictional character in the A Song of Ice and Fire series of high fantasy novels by American author George R. R. Martin, portrayed by Diana Rigg in its television adaptation, Game of Thrones. Olenna is first mentioned in A Game of Thrones (1996) and first appears in A Storm of Swords (2000).
Olenna's role is the same in the show as in the books. In the season six finale, after losing her family in the wildfire explosion of the Sept caused by Cersei Lannister, Olenna aligned herself with Dorne and Daenerys Targaryen out of revenge.
Diana Rigg has received Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series for her performances in 2013, 2014, and 2015.
Olenna Tyrell, also known as the Queen of Thorns, is a former Redwyne and the mother of Mace Tyrell. She is described as a wizened and cunning old woman with a wicked wit and a sharp tongue, and is known for openly stating her opinion.
Olenna is not a point of view character in the novels, so her actions are witnessed and interpreted through the eyes of other people, such as Sansa Stark and Cersei Lannister. Olenna is mostly a background character in the novels.
In the books
In A Storm of Swords, she plots to have Sansa taken to Highgarden to marry her grandson Willas. This plan is foiled by the Lannisters, who force Sansa to marry Tyrion Lannister. According to Littlefinger later in A Storm of Swords, in order to shield Margaery from King Joffrey's cruelty,[dubious ] Olenna had actually been the one who murdered Joffrey at his wedding. Margaery would later go on to marry the younger brother, Tommen Baratheon.
In the show
Lady Olenna, better known as "The Queen of Thorns", is the sharp-witted grandmother of Loras and Margaery. In the adaptation, Olenna is the matriarch of, and the true power behind, House Tyrell. She is also aware of and is generally unconcerned with her grandson Loras's homosexuality. Olenna implies that both closet matriarchy and tolerance of "sword-swallowers" are considered relatively normal in the Reach. She is notably one of the few characters that Tywin Lannister treats as an equal.
After learning the abuses Sansa Stark suffered by Joffrey, Olenna figured out that Margaery could avoid the same fate by using Joffrey's love of violence. Varys warns Olenna that Petyr Baelish has designs on Sansa, who, given the death or disappearance of all her brothers, is now the key to the North. Olenna thus secretly plots to have Sansa marry Loras. Her plan is foiled by Loras himself, who accidentally reveals it to his new lover, one of Baelish's spies. Baelish informs Tywin Lannister, who has Sansa marry his son Tyrion Lannister instead. To secure the Reach, Tywin orders his daughter Cersei to marry Loras. Lady Olenna is at first against this because Cersei is too old (and therefore unlikely to have more children) and because of the scandal of her incestuous affair with her twin brother Jaime. But after Tywin threatens to make Loras join the celibate Kingsguard, which would make Joffrey and Margaery's children the heirs of Reach, Olenna admits defeat and praises Tywin for getting the best of her.
Olenna conspires with Petyr Baelish to murder Joffrey, so as to protect Margaery from Joffrey's beastly nature – it is Olenna who actually does the deed, using a poison Petyr arranged to have smuggled into the wedding on Sansa's person. Quietly admitting her actions, Olenna advises Margaery to become acquainted with her new match, Tommen Baratheon, Joffrey's younger brother and heir, before Cersei turns him against her. Olenna returns to Highgarden shortly afterwards.
When Loras is arrested by the recently reinstated Faith Militant for his homosexuality, Margaery writes to her grandmother who returns to the capital in order to protect her grandchildren from Cersei's schemes. But, mistakenly believing Loras's arrest was simply meant to humiliate House Tyrell, she helplessly assists to Olyvar's testimony which incriminates her grandson, as well as to Margaery's incarceration for perjuring herself in front of the gods in an effort to protect her brother. She later confronts the High Sparrow without results and has a secret meeting with Littlefinger who, blackmailed by Olenna for his part in Joffrey's death and in order to placate his role in her grandchildren's imprisonment in providing Olyvar to Cersei, gives valuable information about Lancel and Cersei's adulterous relationship. This results in the latter's arrest by the Faith Militant.
Olenna takes steps to free Margaery from the High Sparrow and retake power from the Faith Militant, but the plan is thwarted when Tommen forges an alliance with the Faith and becomes the High Sparrow's new puppet. Margaery feigns loyalty and manages to instruct Olenna to leave the city when the High Sparrow threatens her life.
Cersei's plotting ultimately causes the destruction of the Great Sept of Baelor, killing Margaery, Loras, Mace, and the High Sparrow. A grieving Olenna is invited to Dorne to meet with Ellaria Sand, who has seized control of the region and declared open rebellion against the Lannisters. In Dorne, Ellaria presents Varys, who persuades Olenna to support Daenerys Targaryen, having been a secret Targaryen loyalist all along. Olenna sends the Tyrell fleet to Meereen to assist in taking Daenerys' forces to Westeros.
During a meeting with Daenerys' allies at Dragonstone, Olenna displays her initial unease about Tyrion Lannister's plan to attack King's Landing using the Tyrell and Dornish forces, but eventually comes through. After the meeting, Daenerys requests for Olenna to stay to talk with her. Daenerys acknowledges that Olenna has joined forces with her to exact revenge for her family, and not out of any loyalty to her. Olenna advises Daenerys not to listen to "wise men" such as Tyrion, as that is how she has stayed alive all these years: ignoring them. She then tells her the lords of Westeros are all sheep, and Daenerys is a dragon, so she should *be* a dragon.
In "The Queen's Justice", Jaime seizes control of Highgarden on Cersei's orders. He confronts Olenna, granting her a painless death by poison. She drinks it, and then admits responsibility for Joffrey's death, wanting Cersei to know who did it.
Family tree of House Tyrell
Family tree of House Tyrell
Olenna is played by the British actress Diana Rigg in the television adaption of the series of books. Rigg highly praised the show after being cast as Olenna, saying that she "couldn’t ask for better lines - I’m so lucky. I could be sitting at home crumbling but I'm not." Speaking on the character, Rigg said that Olenna "says all the things that other people dare not say".
Remarking on the series and the character:
I wasn't aware I was getting involved in something so huge. I really had no idea. She is also pretty evil; I'm good at evil.
Remarking on the costumes of the series:
Also the costume is terrific. I don’t have to spend hours in make-up and I’m in a wimple, it’s great. I adore it, I absolutely adore it.
Executive producer D. B. Weiss said of Rigg's final scene as Olenna, "What I love about the way she plays the scene is that even though you leave the scene knowing she’s soon going to be dead shortly after you cut to black you still feel like she won. She’s probably the only character to win her own death scene."
Recognition and awards
Diana Rigg has received positive reviews for her role as Olenna Tyrell in the TV series. Screen Rant called Rigg's performance full of energy and fun, saying that the character is "refreshing" and has "sassy put-downs and blunt talk, she is likely the closest thing to comic relief we have in the show."
She received several award nominations for her portrayal of Olenna Tyrell. For her performance in the series she earned the Gold Derby TV Awards for Best Drama Guest Actress in 2013 and 2015. Other nominations include the Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series in 2013, 2014 and 2015, the Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Guest Performer in a Drama Series in 2013 and 2014, and the Gold Derby TV Awards for Best Drama Guest Actress in 2014.
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