Love her or hate her, we can all agree that Cersei Lannister was an absolute powerhouse on Game of Thrones and the brilliant actress who brought her to life each week was Lena Headey.
While Game of Thrones was hardly Headey’s first big role, it’s what we’ll love her for most, no matter what else she does. Let’s see what this sharp-tongued, wine-loving queen has been up to since her watch has ended.
Lena Katherine Headey was born to Sue and John Headey in the British Overseas Territory of Bermuda, in Hamilton, on October 3rd, 1973.
Her father was a police officer positioned in Hamilton with the Bermuda Police Service, but when Lena was five her family made the move back to England.
Lena was a normal teenager attending Shelley College when she got her big break. Noticed while performing at the Royal National Theatre in a school production, a casting agent snapped a picture of her and got her to audition for her first on-screen role.
Headey’s first captivated us in the 1992 movie Waterland at the age of 17, where she played the younger version of main character Mary.
For ’s debut role she acted alongside greats Jeremy Irons, Ethan Hawke, John Heard, and Maggie Gyllenhaal, while directed by Maggie and Jake Gyllenhaal’s father, Stephen.
Since then Headey has graced us with her presence on screen, whether big or small, every single year. Every single year.
This woman is an international treasure, and we all owe her our thanks. It would be impossible to list all of her accomplishments on screen, so we’ll sprinkle some highlights.
Headey was in the amazing first live-action version of The Jungle Book as Kitty in 1994 with Cary Elwes, John Cleese, and Jason Scott Lee.
In 1998 she started practicing for ruling the Seven Kingdoms playing Queen Guinevere in the underappreciated TV miniseries Merlin with Helena Bonham Carter, Sam Neill, and Martin Short, among many other acting greats.
For us, it’s her role in the 2000 psychological thriller Gossip with Joshua Jackson, James Marsden, and Norman Reedus that had us hooked.
For other people, her stunning portrayal as Queen Gorgo in the 2006 male-led historical action movie 300 stands out.
Being one of the sole female characters alongside Gerard Butler, Dominic West, and Michael Fassbender did nothing but shine a much-deserved light on Headey’s performance. All hail the Queen, indeed.
From 2008 until 2009 Lena played another fierce leading woman in the role of Sarah Conner in Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles for 31 episodes.
In 2012 she jumped over to star in the cult sci-fi film Dredd with Karl Urban. The next year Headey teamed back up with Ethan Hawke in the mind messing horror action movie The Purge.
Game of Thrones
Then there was the role that made you love to hate her, or just absolutely love her. As Cersei Lannister, Lena Headey embodied the female head of the most powerful family in Westeros.
Queen Regent, Queen Mother, and one of the most dangerous villains in any of the Seven Kingdoms, Cersei Lannister, daughter of Tywin Lannister, twin to Jaimie, and mother to Joffrey, Myrcella, and Tommen kept us on our toes.
Cersei would plot, scheme, and manipulate her way through anything she felt stood in her way of ruling, or in her children’s way of being happy.
Lena seemed born to play this Protector of the Realm, and has dozens of nominations and plenty of wins for the role to prove it.
It seems like Lena’s Cersei was in every single scene of the show, but she was Queen of the Andals and the First Men in 62 of the 73 episodes of the series.
As far as her salary went, it reflected the fact that without Cersei, the show would have succumbed to the winter blues a lot sooner. Initially starting at around $300,000 per episode, by 2017 Headey and a handful of other main cast members were making $500,000 per episode.
While we won’t even comment on the content of that last season, we will say that Lena commanded an astounding $1.1-$1.2 million per episode salary for it in 2019.
Not bad for sitting around and drinking wine in some rooms in Belfast. Let’s all take notes from this queen.
What did she do after Game of Thrones?
Once GoT’s ended in absolute wildfire, Lena didn’t take any time to rest or relax. Not only was she working on other projects while on GoT, but in 2019 she was lending her voice to multiple projects as well as appearing in a few in the flesh.
She voiced Big Mama for nine episodes in Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles between 2018 and 2020.
She voiced Maudra Fara in the prequel to the 1982 dark fantasy The Dark Crystal, titled The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance in 2019, also as Morgana in the Guillermo del Toro produced fantasy series Wizards in 2020 and in the animated TV series Infinity Train as Amelia from 2019 until 2021.
And who could forget her as Evil-Lyn for the animated superhero series Masters of the Universe: Revelation in 2021. Lena was probably tired of costumes and wanted to wear something a bit more comfortable for a little while.
What is Lena Headey doing now?
You know Lena isn’t done conquering the screen, and she’s as busy as ever delivering performance after performance for us to watch. Besides all of the voice acting she’s been up to, she’s appeared in movies like 2021s Twist, a crime drama take on the Charles Dickens classic, action thriller Gunpowder Milkshake, and thriller 9 Bullets in 2022.
You can hear her voice as Lara in the computer-animated comedy DV League of Super-Pets and as Jeopardy Mouse in Danger Mouse. Headey was also originally in Thor: Love and Thunder, but her scenes were cut.
For upcoming projects, Headey has quite a few in the works. She’ll star alongside Woody Harrelson, Justin Theroux, and a whole cast of amazing actors in the five-part Nixon/Watergate miniseries The White House Plumbers, which is currently in post and should be out in 2023.
For projects that are still filming, she’ll be in the first episode of the sci-fi drama series Beacon 23 and will voice character Thea for the animated TV series New-Gen.
Lena also has two projects in pre-production. The horror movie Svalta, written by and starring the great Nick Frost, doesn’t have details released yet, but we know it’ll be worth a watch. She’ll also star in the thriller Crooks, which has even fewer details released.
In October of 2022, Headey started production on her directorial film debut, the thriller Violet, based on the novel by S.J.I. Holliday.
Lena was first married to Peter Loughran, a musician, from 2007 until 2013, and they share son Wylie Loughran, who was born in 2010. She was then married to director/writer Dan Cadan in 2018, and their daughter Teddy Cadan was born in 2015, but by 2019 the couple had separated.
Headey started dating Ozark actor Marc Menchaca in 2020 and they married in October 2022.
Her wedding was the Game of Thrones ending we all deserved, and her co-stars came out in full force to support her. Peter Dinklage (Tyrion Lannister), Conleth Hill, (Lord Varys) Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark) (along with husband Joe Jonas), and Michelle Fairley (Catelyn Stark) were among the guests who witnessed the gorgeous ceremony in Italy.
Unfortunately, Lena has had her share of the bad stuff that can come with the job. As with a lot of Hollywood actresses, Headey had horrible experiences with Harvey Weinstein where he intimidated and harassed her, telling her not to tell anyone else about what happened.
Her encounters with Weinstein not only left her shaken to the point of crying afterward, but she didn’t appear in another film by Miramax again.
She’s also in a messy dispute over contracts, commission fees, and appearances with her former U.K. agency, Troika. Mostly the dispute has to do with her appearances in Thor: Love and Thunder in which Headey’s scenes were cut, the movie 9 Bullets, and the series Rita, which didn’t get picked up past the pilot episode.
But if there’s one thing we know, it’s that a Lannister always pays their debts, so we’ll have to wait and see how this all works out.
But whatever Lena Headey does, her subjects will follow. With just one arched brow and a slight tilt of her head, she’ll have us doing whatever bidding she wants, and we’re okay with that.
And while we’ll never get her as Queen Cersei out of our heads, we will follow her to the edge of the realm to see what she does next.