The Game of Thrones star, who returns as Queen Margaery Tyrell in the new HBO series on April 25, says she’ll keep speaking out until there is equality in the film industry.
“The tide is definitely turning,” she says. “Just slower than we would all like. You have to focus on the positive.”
In the last year alone, she points out, the likes of Mad Max: Fury Road and The Hunger Games (in which she played Cressida) both featured female protagonists and were commercial successes.
Along with Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Natalie says they prove “that an audience will go and see a female protagonist in an action movie.”
But Natalie says lasting change must come from those at the top.
“It doesn’t lie in the actors; it lies with the scripts being written which give those opportunities and write those characters, and it comes from the people who commission those scripts. So, it comes from the money men and the studios.”
If the scripts aren’t there, she concludes, then women won’t get the parts.
“Often the answer is just ‘delete John and write Jane’,” she says. “I don’t think you need to ‘write for women’, per se. You don’t need to write about shoes and babies and periods. Women have brains the way men have brains.
“If you just change the name of the character; that’s what Angelina Jolie did with Salt, which was a role originally for Tom Cruise. I think male writers maybe panic that they can’t write female characters too much. Just change John to Jane.”
As for the recent criticism around Game of Throne’s portrayal of violence against women, Natalie is just as forthright with her views.
The actress says the HBO series isn’t aimed at viewers looking for escapism, but reflects the “horror of human nature”.
“All I know is that I turn on the news, and it’s covering a boy drowning off the coast, or children being shown beheading videos,” she tells The Sunday Times.
“The horror of human nature is prevalent in our world, and I appreciate that some people want to turn on the telly (television) for escapism – but if that’s what you want, don’t watch Game of Thrones.”
For more on what to expect in the eagerly-anticipated return of Game of Thrones, click here.