Diana Rigg, a commanding British actress whose career stretched from iconic 1960s spy series “The Avengers” to fantasy juggernaut “Game of Thrones,” has died. She was 82.
Rigg’s agent, Simon Beresford, said she died Thursday morning at home with her family. Daughter Rachael Stirling said she died of cancer that was diagnosed in March.
Rigg “spent her last months joyfully reflecting on her extraordinary life, full of love, laughter and deep pride in her profession. I will miss her beyond words,” Stirling said.
Rigg starred in “The Avengers” as secret agent Emma Peel alongside Patrick McNee’s bowler-hatted John Steed. The pair was an impeccably dressed duo who fought villains and traded quips in a show whose mix of adventure and humour was enduringly influential.
Rigg also starred in 1967 James Bond thriller “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” as the only woman ever to marry, albeit briefly, Agent 007.
In later life, she played Olenna Tyrell — the sharp-tongued “Queen of Thorns” — in “Game of Thrones,” receiving an Emmy Award nomination for the role.
Other television roles included the Duchess of Buccleuch in the period drama “Victoria,” and Rigg starred alongside her daughter in the gentle British sitcom “Detectorists.”
Rigg spent several years in the 1960s as a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company, and combined screen work with a major stage career, in plays including William Shakespeare’s “Macbeth,” Bertolt Brecht’s “Mother Courage” and Tom Stoppard’s “Jumpers” at the National Theatre in London.
She had several acclaimed roles in the 1990s at London’s Almeida Theatre, including Martha in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” and the title role in Greek tragedy “Medea.”
Rigg won a Tony Award for “Medea” on Broadway, and was nominated on three other occasions — most recently in 2018 for playing Mrs. Higgins in “My Fair Lady.”
Jonathan Kent, who directed Rigg in some of her great stage roles, said her “combination of force of personality, beauty, courage and sheer emotional power made her a great classical actress — one of an astonishing generation of British stage performers.”
She never retired. One of Rigg’s final television roles was in the rural veterinary drama “All Creatures Great and Small,” which is currently running on British television.
Stoppard said Rigg was “the most beautiful woman in the room, but she was what used to be called a Trouper.”
“She went to work with her sleeves rolled up and a smile for everyone. Her talent was luminous.”
Rigg is survived by her daughter, son-in-law Guy Garvey — lead singer of the band Elbow — and a grandson.
The likes of Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who played Jaime Lannister on “Game of Thrones”, “GoT” actor Pedro Pascal, and director Edgar Wright were among those paying tribute to Rigg on social media.
See more messages below.
I am late to post about this, but I was very saddened by the news of a couple recent deaths. The world of television and film lost a titan with the passing of Dame Diana Rigg. Such an amazing talent. It was such an honor to have her on GAME OF THRONES as the Queen of Thorns… pic.twitter.com/kD3R3Fl7V9
— George RR Martin (@GRRMspeaking) September 14, 2020
What to say about Diana Rigg? I could talk about her incredible career, but for now I'll just say as a lifelong fan, it was beyond a thrill to work with her on her final film. She exceeded all my highest expectations, so blazingly talented, fiery & funny. Miss you already Dame D. pic.twitter.com/3crtUsJhla
— edgarwright (@edgarwright) September 10, 2020
Dame Diana Rigg . She always raised the bar with her incredible talent, intelligence and wit. An absolute joy and honor to work with. May her soul Rest In Peace https://t.co/BC4annah1H
— Nikolaj CosterWaldau (@nikolajcw) September 10, 2020
Be a dragon.
The realm will always remember Diana Rigg.
— Game of Thrones (@GameOfThrones) September 10, 2020
RIP Dame Diana Rigg. Great actress and good sport – lest we forget, she let Daniel Radcliffe flick a condom on her head in Extras. pic.twitter.com/scFC8KPlZz
— Stephen Merchant (@StephenMerchant) September 10, 2020
— Pedro Pascal he/him (@PedroPascal1) September 10, 2020
Diana Rigg was just wonderful. But you all knew that already. Everybody did. Very sad news. #dianarigg
— John Bradley (@johnbradleywest) September 10, 2020
For a girl in the 1960’s, Diana Rigg was the embodiment of power and allure. To see her on stage in Medea 30 years later was sheer terror. And the icing was Game of Thrones. She outplayed them all. A great grand actor. 🖤 pic.twitter.com/9XjCQh1qmi
— Dana Delany (@DanaDelany) September 10, 2020
"We are very sad to hear of the passing of Dame Diana Rigg, the legendary stage and screen actress who was much beloved by Bond fans for her memorable performance as Tracy di Vicenzo in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, the only woman to have married James Bond." pic.twitter.com/nqQCSg35oM
— James Bond (@007) September 10, 2020
It was my great joy and privilege to have known Diana Rigg. From three slightly hysterical months at the Old Vic in ‘All About Mother’ to writing The Crimson Horror for Diana and her wonderful daughter Rachael. Flinty, fearless, fabulous. There will never be another. RIP pic.twitter.com/2EGc4MVx0S
— Mark Gatiss (@Markgatiss) September 10, 2020