She is best known as the bitter and ruthless Queen Cersei in Game of Thrones, and actress Lena Headey has revealed she has drawn on a tumultuous personal life when playing the iconic role.
The 45-year-old actress revealed suffering with postnatal depression and working through a difficult divorce, helped her find the emotions to pull off such a challenging role. She told the Sun on Sunday: “I’m a very emotional actor and get really driven. To do my job, I allow myself to be really vulnerable. I don’t know any other way.”
Talking about her 2013 divorce from Irish musician Peter Loughran, which coincided with season three of Game of Thrones, Headey said: “We got through it. I tried to put into Cersei in a way that was cathartic for me, otherwise I would have had a meltdown.”
The actress has a nine-year-old son named Wylie with her ex-husband. She won the part of Cersei Lannister not long after giving birth to her son, and she revealed the difficulties working while being a new mum. She said: “It was horrendous – I had postnatal depression but I didn’t know it.
“I saw a doctor for the medical check and I just burst into tears.
“I did the first year of Game of Thrones in that space, figuring out motherhood and going through a weird time personally.
“It was tricky.”
The star also revealed people are often quite shocked when she turns out to be nothing like her character in real life, she shouldn’t too much of a shock really, considering she plays an incestuous sociopath. She said: “I don’t want to say I’m, like, hilarious, but obviously Cersei’s sort of permeated everything.
“So there’s a preconception of who I am. That follows you weirdly in this industry, even with professionals who are like, ‘Oh God, you’re funny and nice’.
“Where I sit naturally as a person is more relaxed and nerdy than playing wicked queens.”
She added: “I’m a nerd, quite shy and suffer massive anxiety.
“So for me it’s a real challenge to play Cersei. I always shatter at the end of a season because I give it everything.
“Cersei’s got this storm inside – human pain that we all identify with.”
The first episode of the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones airs Sunday 14 April.