Game of Thrones star Hannah Waddingham says she was ‘waterboarded for 10 hours’ filming Cersei torture scene

Hannah Waddingham in Game of Thrones (©2016 Home Box Office, Inc. All)
Hannah Waddingham in Game of Thrones (©2016 Home Box Office, Inc. All)

Game of Thrones star Hannah Waddingham has opened up about a traumatic experience while filming an episode of the hit HBO fantasy series.

Waddingham, played Unella, in Thrones, one of the Septa of the Faith of the Seven, who carried out the bidding of the High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce).

Unella’s most famous moments involved Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey), with Waddingham’s character yelling “shame” during Cersei’s walk to the Red Keep. Unella is later imprisoned by Cersei and tortured by The Mountain (Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson).

Speaking to Collider, Waddingham claimed she was actually waterboarded for the scene, describing the experience as “the worst day of my life” other than childbirth.

According to the actor, the script originally called for her character to be raped by The Mountain, but creators had “had so many complaints” about previous depictions of sexual violence in the series “that they chose not to go with it”.

“There I was strapped to a wooden table with proper big straps for ten hours,” said Waddingham. “And definitely, other than childbirth, it was the worst day of my life. Because Lena was uncomfortable pouring liquid in my face for that long, and I was beside myself. But in those moments you have to think, do you serve the piece and get on with it or do you chicken out and go, ‘No, this isn’t what I signed up for, blah, blah, blah?’

“The funny thing was, after we’d finished shooting it for the whole day, and people like Miguel Sapochnik, the director by the way, walking past with a cup of tea and a sandwich on-the-go and going, ‘Hi hunny, you alright?’ And I was like, ‘Not really.’ ‘The crew have just been saying we are actually really waterboarding you here.’ And I was like, ‘Yup, you don’t need to tell me that!’”

After running into fellow Thrones star Eugene Simon after filming, Waddingham said that she “could barely speak because I had been screaming through The Mountain’s hand”, and had “bruises already coming up like I had been attacked”.

She told her co-star: “I’ve basically just been waterboarded for ten hours.”

Waddingham, who recently starred in the Apple TV+ comedy Ted Lasso, said that the incident “gave me claustrophobia around water”.

“I actually went and had a bit of a chat to somebody about it,” she said, “because it’s quite full-on being waterboarded for ten hours, and then only one minute and 30 seconds can be used on camera.”

The Independent has contacted HBO for comment.

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