The award-winning British actress played Lady Olenna Tyrell in HBO's Game of Thrones

By Aurelie Corinthios
September 10, 2020 10:55 AM
Advertisement

Dame Diana Rigg, the award-winning British actress, has died. She was 82.

"She died peacefully early this morning," her agent told the BBC on Thursday. "She was at home with her family who have asked for privacy at this difficult time."

Rigg was catapulted to fame as the witty, seductive spy Emma Peel on the British cult series The Avengers in the 1960s, which earned her two Emmy nominations. She gained a new legion of fans decades later as the brilliantly wicked Lady Olenna Tyrell on HBO's Game of Thrones from 2013 to 2017, which earned her Emmy nominations in 2013, 2014 and 2015.

Hbo/Kobal/Shutterstock

Rigg was diagnosed with cancer in March, her daughter Rachael Stirling told The Hollywood Reporter. Stirling told the outlet 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.

VALERY HACHE/AFP via Getty Images

Her agent Simon Beresford added, "Dame Diana was an icon of theatre, film, and television. She was the recipient of BAFTA, Emmy, Tony and Evening Standard Awards for her work on stage and screen. Dame Diana was a much loved and admired member of her profession, a force of nature who loved her work and her fellow actors. She will be greatly missed."

In a statement obtained by PEOPLE, Susanne Simpson, executive producer of the anthology series Masterpiece, paid tribute to Rigg.

"The Masterpiece team was saddened today by the news of Dame Diana Rigg's death. She was an integral member of the Masterpiece family, including 15 years as the host of Mystery!, where her elegant introductions made an indelible impression on U.S. audiences. She won an Emmy for her performance in Rebecca, dazzled audiences in Mother Love, Bleak House and in her recent star turn in Victoria. In January, audiences will see her in All Creatures Great and Small in the role of the eccentric Mrs. Pumphrey. A grande dame of British drama, Diana was one of a kind and we will miss her."

Shutterstock

Rigg also played Bond girl Tracy Draco in 1969's On Her Majesty's Secret Service, the first and only appearance of George Lazenby as 007. Rigg's character was the only Bond girl ever to marry the spy, but was promptly killed off in the movie's finale.

Speaking to PEOPLE in 2017, Rigg said she "loved" the extravagant experience.

"It was so profligate — money was no object," she recalled. "There was a 10-second bit where I looked at my watch. And they sent for a watch-maker to arrive with a case full of watches. I just chose one, and they gave it to me. I also had a huge beautiful fox fur coat that I wore in the film, and they gave it to me! I loved it."

Chris Ware/Keystone/Getty Images

Rigg, the daughter of a railway engineer and a homemaker, recalled vowing to be an actress at 12 years old. "It was a wild hope, coming from a Yorkshire family with no theatrical talent," she admitted. But she was fiercely ambitious and joined the Royal Shakespeare Company. Years later, she was made a dame commander of the Order of the British Empire and never stopped working.

"I'm an immensely curious person, I just want to keep learning," she told PEOPLE. "I'm not complacent, because I hope to be playing all sorts of stuff that I’ve never played before, while the mind and the body still functions."

"I love my life," she added. "I'm a very lucky woman. I'm in a position to do exactly what I want. I travel quite a lot. I read prodigiously. I go to the theater, to concerts. London is a wonderful city to live in."