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‘Ten hours of being waterboarded’: Hannah Waddingham says Game of Thrones left her with chronic claustrophobia
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‘Ten hours of being waterboarded’: Hannah Waddingham says Game of Thrones left her with chronic claustrophobia

Game of Thrones might have ended half a decade ago, but you’d be forgiven for thinking it was much less than that. This is partly down to House of the Dragon, which is less a spin-off and more the televisual equivalent of an annoying dinner party guest who doesn’t understand when it’s time to go home. It’s partly because the Game of Thrones finale was so cartoonishly inept that it sticks in the mind like a blunt-force trauma. But also it’s because the cast keep complaining about what a terrible time they had on the show.

Both Kit Harington and Maisie Williams have questioned the show’s ending, not least the fact that Williams’s character kills the Night King more or less out of the blue. “He couldn’t have been that bad when some 100lb girl comes in and stabs him,” Williams said at the time, while Harington opted for a more concise: “I was pissed that it wasn’t me killing the Night King.” More seriously, Emilia Clarke has spoken about how she felt pressured into filming nude scenes for the show.

Now Hannah Waddingham has added her name to the fray. Although she has spent the last few years accelerating towards national treasure status, thanks to her role on Ted Lasso and all of her seemingly indefatigable subsequent performances, it’s easy to forget that she also played Septa Unella in two seasons of Game of Thrones.

The role might have seemed like a breeze – her most well-known scene involved her clanging a bell and chanting the word “shame” while Lena Headey’s Cersei Lannister was paraded naked through the streets – but that doesn’t seem to have been the case. During an appearance on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, Waddingham revealed that one of the scenes she filmed for Game of Thrones left her with “chronic claustrophobia”.

After being asked if she did any of her own stunts on the show, Waddingham said that the show once required her to undergo “ten hours of being actually waterboarded”.

Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen and Kit Harington as Jon Snow in Games of Thrones.View image in fullscreen

“I’m strapped to a table with all these leather straps,” she told Colbert of the scene where Cersei ties her down and repeatedly pours wine on her face. “I couldn’t lift up my head because it would be too obvious that it was loose. I had grape juice all in my hair so it went purple, I couldn’t speak because The Mountain had his hand over my mouth while I was screaming and I had strap marks all over me like I’d been attacked.”

Such is the bizarre format of US late-night interviews, that the moment wasn’t interrogated – Waddingham quickly segued to an anecdote about how much she swears – but it is something she has discussed in the past. During a Collider video interview a few years ago, she described the scene as: “Definitely, other than childbirth, the worst day of my life.”

It’s fascinating to watch Waddingham talk about the experience, because it still clearly rankles her – in the Collider interview she singled out the director for his insensitivity, revealed that she had to keep reminding herself that the production company wasn’t going to let her die, mentioned that she had to seek help for the claustrophobia around water that the scene left her with and points out that her 10-hour waterboarding session only made for 90 seconds of screen time – but she remains weirdly bullish about the whole thing.

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“Get on with it, be uncomfortable … push yourself,” she says of the experience at the end of the clip, as if being tortured for 10 hours would in any way enhance the audience’s ability to enjoy an incredibly short scene about a character so completely peripheral to the show that most people wouldn’t be able to remember her full name.

These days, a scene like this would probably require the presence of an intimacy coordinator, who may well have advocated on behalf of Waddingham. Clearly Game of Thrones – with its long list of openly disgruntled actors – was a product of its time.

Source: theguardian.com