The Historical Costume Women of Game of Thrones


You’re probably aware that season 6 of Game of Thrones premiered on April 24. And we’ve mentioned before how many of the boys of Game of Thrones have been featured in a fair number of historical costume movies and TV. Well, it’s about time we looked at the ladies of Game of Thrones — how many of them have crossed between fantasy and historical costume and TV productions? Not a lot, but we did find a few big names and frequent fliers between genres.


Lena Headey


The wickedest woman in Westros, Cersei Lannister, recently fought off the undead and Jane Austen as Lady Catherine de Bourgh in 2016’s Pride & Prejudice & Zombies. She had bit parts in a number of historical costume TV productions such as Ava Wigram in the 1930s Churchill TV movie The Gathering Storm (2002). And in the same year, she played the doomed lesbian lover, Blanche Glover, in the Victorian flashback portions of the film, Possession. Now that’s some acting range!


She will cut you.


Gorgeous 1930s.


Serious Victorian biznz!


Michelle Fairley


Catelyn Stark may be gone, but she’s not forgotten. Since Catelyn’s Red Wedding, Fairley has played Victorian author Wilkie Collins’ mistress, Caroline Graves, in the Dickens’ biographical film, The Invisible Woman (2013). She also had a small part in the 2015 retelling of Moby Dick, In the Heart of the Sea, as Mrs. Nickerson, set circa 1850.


Apparently head of the Victorian Literary Mistresses Guild.


Let’s hear a story about whales!


Natalie Dormer


Surely you recognized Margaery Tyrell from her previous historical costume roles? Dormer rose to fame as Anne Boleyn in The Tudors (2007-2010), and recently she was The Scandalous Lady W (2015)


Oh you know.


Not as scandalous as you’d think.


Carice van Houten


The actress behind Melisandre has done a lot of European TV, but the only historical costume film I recognized was the small, sweet flick From Time to Time (2009), where she’s in an 1820s flashback as Lady Maria Oldknow.


Nice hair in this flick.


Rose Leslie


Both before and after she climed the Wall as Ygritte, Leslie was on Downton Abbey (2010, 2015), first as chambermaid Gwen Dawson, then after Gwen married Mr. Harding. She’s also been in the edu-tainment miniseries about the 1660s The Great Fire (2014) as a townsperson Sarah.


She did know something, Jon Snow.


Movin’ on up in the world.


‘Cept when it all burned down.


Tara Fitzgerald


Stannis’ unfortunate wife, Selyse Baratheon, lingered in the shadows, while Fitzgerald has had an extensive career in historical costume movies and TV shows. She’s played everyone from a villainous version of Marie de Medici in The Muskateers (2014) to abused wife on the run Helen Graham in The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1996) to needing to be un-repressed Estella Campion in Sirens (1993).


I do like the bitchface here.


Caught between Toby Stephens and Rupert Graves. TOUGH.


She loosens up a lot.


Diana Rigg


Prickly Olenna Tyrell is just one of Rigg’s snarky and delightful roles. In historical costume, she’s dabbled in many eras. I featured her turn as detective Adela Bradley in The Mrs. Bradley Mysteries (1998-2000), plus she was Arlena Marshall in the 1930s Poirot mystery movie Evil Under the Sun (1982), and Charlotte Mittelheim in film version of Sondheim’s musical (set in 1900 Vienna) A Little Night Music (1977). And then there’s her iconic role as Mrs. Peel in The Avengers, and in one episode “Escape in Time” (1966), she attempts to travel back to the 18th century.

The Mrs. Bradley Mysteries (1998)





Yes. Diana Rigg’s career in historical costume consists of awesome hats. I can’t help it.


Then there’s that Avengers episode. I’m compelled to point out that the costume is surprisingly not terrible for 1966, despite the tragic wig.


No zipper or back-lacing, folks! 1966!


Who’s your favorite woman from Game of Thrones?


About the author

Trystan L. Bass

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A self-described ElderGoth, Trystan has been haunting the internet since the early 1990s. Always passionate about costume, from everyday office wear to outrageous twisted historical creations, she has maintained some of the earliest online costuming-focused resources on the web. Her costuming adventures are chronicled on her website, TrystanCraft. She also ran a popular fashion blog, This Is CorpGoth, dedicated to her “office drag.”

19 Responses

  1. M

    Favourite GOT lady has to be Natalie Dormer, loved her as Victoria in Casanova, and as Anne Boleyn in “The Tudors”.
    Also Maise Williams, but I think the only period piece she’s done is “The Falling”, and 1960s school uniforms are not that interesting to look at…

  2. Charity

    Natalie Dormer was terrific in Casanova — that’s where I first saw her, so I was psyched when I heard a few months later she’d been cast as Anne Boleyn.

    Saw Carice in… was it called Black Death? Something with Sean Bean in it. You can guess how it ends. :P

  3. Lady Hermina De Pagan

    I’m surprised you did not include Kate Dickie. Besides playing the deranged Lysa Aran, she was the pregnant wife of John in Pillars of the Earth.

  4. AshleyOlivia

    I didn’t know Lena Headey was in Possession! Goodness, was that a makeunder or what?

  5. mmcquown

    First time I saw van Houten was in “The Black Book,” a WWII story where she played a Jew infiltrating the Nazi hierarchy by becoming the mistress of a highly placed officer. I guess that counts as a period piece these days. Been a fan ever since.

  6. ladylavinia1932

    Diana Rigg co-starred with Oliver Reed in the 1968 movie, “THE ASSASSINATION BUREAU, LTD.”, in which she portrayed an Edwardian journalist and suffragette.

    Lena Headley was also in the 1994 Disney film, “THE JUNGLE BOOK” and in the 1993 film, “THE REMAINS OF THE DAY”.

  7. Wehaf

    “In the Heart of the Sea” is not a retelling of Moby Dick, it’s a retelling of the true story on which Hermann Melville based Moby Dick.

  8. Cara

    OH MY GOD I did not realize Diana Rigg was Arlena from Evil Under The Sun until JUST NOW. I love that movie! And Jane Birkin is fabulously evil at the end

      • saffireblu

        Lena was also in an adaption of The Jungle Book, back in the 90’s, with everyone’s favourite ‘Dread Pirate Roberts’, Cary Elwes as a bad guy & my beloved Sam Neill- as well as Jason Scott-Lee as Mowgli.
        She was also in some Merlin mini-series/ movie-thing, also with Sam- her wedding dress in that is stunning! Even though it doesn’t get much screen-time, it makes Cotillard’s wedding/ coronation costume look kind of average, tbh.

        Nat got a little cameo in Capt America, I believe.