Lena Headey of Game of Thrones recently discussed what it was like to film Unella’s waterboarding scene. The HBO show, which aired for eight seasons and began in 2011, quickly became one of the most popular shows ever on television. After the dramatic climax, which enraged many fans, the network quickly announced that many spin-offs were in the works. Although a spin-off and prequel to House of the Dragon is already in the works, several of these concepts did not go anywhere.
Cersei Lannister is one of the most hated villains in television history, and Headey gives a tremendous performance as her. Unella, a Septa of the Faith of the Seven, was introduced in Season 5 as Hannah Waddingham’s character (Ted Lasso).
Cersei was subjected to a number of punishment, including the iconic scene in which she made the Lannister perform a “walk of atonement” while ringing a bell and crying “Shame!” on behalf of the High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce). In season 6, however, the tables were turned on the audience. Cersei, furious, decides to punish Unella by torturing her.
10 Hours Shoot
Unella was tied down to a table and waterboarded by Cersei during the 10-hour filming, according to Headey’s allegation. She remembers the shoot as being extremely challenging, but praised Waddingham for his persistence. Headey claimed that she felt horrible about having to execute the scene, so as she poured the wine across her covered face, she tried to aim away from her mouth.
Audiences rarely get a sense of how tough it is to film seemingly basic situations. Many fans were overjoyed to see Unella tormented when the Game of Thrones episode shown to the rest of the world. Some performers refuse to perform their own stunts, while others would rather not.
Filming a 10-hour waterboarding sequence sounds like real torture, so it’s no surprise that Waddingham has developed a dread of water in the years since.