10 Surprising Things You Didn’t Know About Game of Thrones’ Lena Headey
Born on October 3, 1973, Lena Headey is one of the most popular and exciting actresses on TV. Here's the story behind the Game of Thrones actress.
Shutterstock (2)Straight Out of Bermuda
Lena Headey was born on October 3, 1973 in Hamilton, Bermuda. Her father was stationed on the Caribbean island as a police cadet. She lived there until she was five, when her family later moved back to England. They settled in Huddersfield, which is close to where her parents were originally from in Yorkshire.
Pardon my accent
As a child, Headey was picked on and bullied because of the elocution lessons her mother made her take. Her mother wanted her to learn how “to speak like a lady.” However, her working-class hometown didn’t take to her “upper class” status.
She told Men’s Health in 2010, “I remember asking this boy where the playing field was, and he was like, ‘Where are you from?’ Then he literally smashed me on the head with his cricket bat because I was different,” she says, and then contemplates, “or maybe he just wanted to kiss me.”
The bullying didn’t stop at childhood either. Headey also recalled a story when she went back home after establishing herself as a successful TV actress in the early 90s. At the time, Headey had been recently cast in The Jungle Book when her old school mates confronted her at a bar.
“I was having a drink with my mates, and one girl (who we always had trouble with) said, ‘Oh, you think you’re so f***ing good coming back here, don’t ya?’,” she admitted to the men’s magazine. “Then she punched me in the eye, and I showed up on my first day of a Disney film with a real shiner.”
Friends with Peter Dinklage
She was already good friends with Peter Dinklage before she was cast in Game of Thrones, which is based on a popular book series that features fierce female characters. The pair met and became friends while making the indie film Pete Smalls Is Dead in 2010. In fact, Dinklage was the one who recommended that the producers cast Headey in the role of Queen Regent of the Seven Kingdoms.
“A lesser actress would play a wicked woman,” Peter Dinklage said of Headey. “But Lena approaches it as a mother lion—maybe because she’s a mother herself. Cersei will do anything to protect her own.”
In 2008, Headey appeared in an anti-circus public service announcement for PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). She described the cruel treatment of elephants and other animals that are forced to perform. “Circus trainers often force elephants, bears, tigers and other animals to perform tricks by beating and whipping them, shocking them with electric prods and jabbing holes in their skin with sharp metal hooks,” she described.
Believe it or not, but she has about nine tattoos on her body, including a large spiraling lotus flower on her back. She also has ink on her right arm, between her shoulder blades, and one of her ex-boyfriend’s name “Jason” on her arm written in Thai.
“I always want more, it’s a terrible thing,” Headey admitted to More magazine. “I’ll be outside a tattoo shop and hear the needle and think, ‘I could just get a little one that nobody would see.'”
During production on Game of Thrones, costume designers and makeup department have to find clever ways to film Headey without revealing her tattoos. Sometime they use body doubles for scenes that show her back or naked, such as Cersei’s humiliating walk. Hopefully, she asked herself these seven questions you must answer before getting a tattoo.
Highest paid on American TV
As of 2017, the main cast of Game of Thrones is the highest paid in TV history. Peter Dinklage, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (one of the celebrity names you’re probably pronouncing wrong), Kit Harington, Emilia Clarke, and yes, Lena Headey all get paid $1.1 million per episode going into season seven and season eight.
Pregnant during season one and season six
While filming season one of Game of Thrones in 2010, Headey was pregnant with her first child Wylie. The producers decided to use a body double, while also dressing Headey in long flowing dresses and robes to hide the pregnancy.
“We just hid the pregnancy,” Headey said to Vulture in 2013. “But even after that, I’m not a naturally pregnant person, so I was having all these hideous post-pregnancy hormonal moments, mentally, and that’s a completely other thing—I was not happy. But that helped for playing Cersei.”
She was also pregnant with her second child Teddy while filming season six in 2015.
Headey has a lot of pets: a beagle named Wizard and a Brussels Griffon originally named Nugget, but later changed to Angela Lansbury when Headey realized the dog looked like the Murder, She Wrote actress. She also owns two Dachshunds named Monkey and Skippy, as well as a rescued dog named Irish. The dogs are valued at over $2 million combined. Headey also admits that she tweets about her dogs too much. Here’s the real reason dogs freak out during a thunderstorm.
Boxing and yoga
To stay in shape, Headey practices yoga and boxing. She’s been boxing since the 90s as a way to stay physically and mentally fit. Staying fit was one of the reasons why she is cast in movies like 300 and its sequel 300: The Rise of an Empire, and TV shows like Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Headey told EW, “I took up boxing as a fitness thing. I got obsessed and I would go every day when I wasn’t working. It’s just an insane sport when you get into it.”
She loves horror movies
Headey has appeared in a number of horror movies, such as The Purge and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. In fact, horror movies are her favorite. “Some people f***ing hate horror films, right? But I love them,” Headey told Vulture in 2013. “I find (Texas) Chainsaw (Massacre) to be a very relaxing film. [Laughs] For me, horror movies are a real escape. I don’t feel like I’m getting anything out, but my brain shuts down, [sigh of relief] and I can fall into this dark, you know, fantasy for a minute. I don’t get anything out of it. I just go, “Oh! That was nice.” Here are 32 of the scariest movies of all-time.