How can you easily see that Lena Headey (50) is an outstanding character actress? Quite simply: In the person of the scheming Cersei Lannister, the lovable and humorous actress managed to create one of the most powerful hate figures in recent TV history. But as convincing as she may have been as the blonde poison in the hit series "Game of Thrones" - to reduce Headey to this role would be grossly negligent. In an at least equally memorable series role, the Brit, who turns 50 on October 3rd, wasn't just on the good side. She was their only hope.
Where others - according to myth - disappear, Lena Headey appeared on October 3, 1973. In the mid-1970s, her parents lived in Bermuda, the British overseas territory that gives the legendary Bermuda Triangle its name. When she was just three years old, the current actress went from there to the less wide world - to Huddersfield, England.
It's also interesting to look at her acting origins: Headey celebrated this shortly before her 19th birthday in the star-studded drama "Waterland" (1992), with, among others, Jeremy Irons (75), Ethan Hawke (52) and John Heard (1946- 2017). Her debut film was also directed by a certain Stephen Gyllenhaal (73), the father of the famous actor siblings Maggie (45) and Jake Gyllenhaal (42).
In fact, right at the beginning of her career she was granted roles alongside many a legend. In 1993 she had a small part in “What was left of the day” with Oscar winner Anthony Hopkins (85). She also appeared in a live-action adaptation of "The Jungle Book" (1994) together with Sam Neill (76), as well as in the television film "Merlin" four years later. Thanks to the 2000 drama “Aberdeen,” critics and award organizers became aware of her talent for the first time.
In many ways, Headey played a version of her Game of Thrones role back in 2006 that wouldn't go to series until five years later. In Zack Synder's (57) over-stylized fantasy film "300", the breakthrough film by Gerard Butler (53), she played Queen Gorgo to his King Leonidas. Already in this she was able to prove that she was a strong woman in power and was able to assert herself in what was supposed to be a man's world - if necessary using her charms.
Before she took this part into a villainous role in the series adaptation by George R. R. Martin (75) and cultivated it there, she played one of the greatest female heroines in cinema history in a different series format. In the critically and fan-acclaimed series "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" she played the titular resistance fighter Sarah Connor. So she took on the part that led Linda Hamilton into the dispute with Arnold "T-800" Schwarzenegger in 1984. Unlike the film franchise, however, the series adaptation did not have a long future - after two seasons and a total of 31 episodes, the TV war against the machines was history.
But now: Lena Headey became a household name around the world in 2011 at the latest. When the first season of the HBO series “Game of Thrones” started, very few people would have expected what a phenomenon it would become. But because heroes can only be as good as their opponents, Headey's Cersei Lannister also became the crucial piece of the puzzle: everyone loved to hate her and her damned son Joffrey (Jack Gleeson, 31).
The actress also chatted about this on Conan O'Brien's (60) show in 2013 - for good reason: at that time, the "Red Wedding" episode had just flickered across the screens, in which several fan favorites were murdered at the behest of the Lannisters - and Headey met with real hatred. However, she took it as praise for her performance: "I guess it's a compliment when someone walks past your table [in a restaurant, editor's note] and says, 'You're that damn bitch!'" Almost funny in retrospect, Cersei's greatest atrocities were still to come at this early point in the series.
Speaking of waiting: It's been four years since the (controversial) finale of "Game of Thrones" appeared. Although Headey has been busy since then, there haven't been any big hits. However, that could change next year: In addition to a few other projects in the pipeline, the Netflix series “The Abandons” is scheduled to appear in 2024. In it, created by "Sons of Anarchy" maker Kurt Sutter (63) and with Gillian Anderson (55), the era between the gold rush and the civil war is shown and Headey is therefore allowed to do what she can do so convincingly: power struggle.