Lena Headey

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Lena Headey
Lena Headey Primetime Emmy Awards 2014.jpg
Headey at the 2014 Primetime Emmy Awards
Born (1973-10-03) 3 October 1973 (age 42)
Hamilton, Bermuda
Residence Los Angeles, California, U.S.
London, England
Nationality British
Occupation Actress
Years active 1992–present
Spouse(s) Peter Loughran (m. 2007; div. 2013)
Children 2

Lena Kathren Headey (/ˈlnə ˈhdi/ LEE-nə HEED-ee; born 3 October 1973)[1] is an English actress.

After being scouted at age 17, Headey worked steadily as an actress in small and supporting roles in films throughout the 1990s, before finding fame for her lead performances in big-budget films such as the fantasy film The Brothers Grimm (2005), the action film 300 (2007), portraying Gorgo, Queen of Sparta, and the adventure and biographical film The Red Baron (2008).

Headey is best known for portraying Cersei Lannister in HBO's hit fantasy series Game of Thrones since 2011, a performance that has earned her three consecutive Emmy award nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (2014-16). She is also known for playing the title character Sarah Connor on Fox's Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and the villainous drug lord Madeline "Ma-Ma" Madrigal in Dredd.

Early life and education[edit]

Headey was born in Hamilton, Bermuda, the daughter of Sue and John Headey.[1] Her father, a Yorkshire police cadet, was stationed there at the time. She has one younger brother, Tim.[2] The family moved to Somerset when she was five, and then to Shelley, West Yorkshire, when Headey was eleven.[3] As a child, she took ballet lessons, before being told to stop.[4]

Headey had her first experience of acting when she was a pupil at Shelley College; she was noticed at age 17, when performing in a school production at the Royal National Theatre, and was picked for a role in the 1992 film Waterland.[5]


1990s: Debut and early roles[edit]

At the age of 17, Headey performed in a one-off show and afterwards a casting agent took a photo and asked her to audition. Later, she got a supporting role in the drama Waterland, in which she had the opportunity to work with actors who had been in the business several years before her. She landed a small role in The Remains of the Day, which came out in 1993 and received eight Academy Awards nominations.

She played Katherine in Disney's The Jungle Book, released in 1994. The film had positive reviews and earned nearly $44 million in the United States.[6] Headey, alongside her co-stars received favourable reviews with James Berardinelli praising their "solid performances".[7] On the set of The Jungle Book, she met her boyfriend of nine years, actor Jason Flemyng.

After a number of film roles, she appeared opposite Vanessa Redgrave in the 1997 romantic drama Mrs Dalloway. Headey landed a supporting role in a higher-profile film titled Onegin, which starred Ralph Fiennes and Liv Tyler. The following year, she had the starring role in the drama Aberdeen. Headey received several good reviews for her performance in the film. She also had roles in 2000's Gossip and 2001's The Parole Officer.

She received the Silver Iris Award for Best Actress at the 2001 Brussels European Film Festival for her role in Aberdeen. In 2002, she had a role in the mystery drama Possession alongside Gwyneth Paltrow and Aaron Eckhart.

2000s: Rise to prominence[edit]

Headey at the 300 London premiere, 2007

Headey co-starred with Matt Damon and Heath Ledger in Terry Gilliam's The Brothers Grimm, which was released in August 2005. The film received mixed reviews. In an interview Headey spoke about her character in the film: "I loved the fact that she was a tomboy. That is what attracted me to her, that she wasn't this predictable female character in this big film. You meet her and she is masking who she is. I loved that her environment dictated who she is. She lives and grows up and survives in the forest. Terry and I talked about how her instincts are almost animalistic and she can see 360 degrees around her. She is aware of what is going on. That is how she is grounded. She is of the earth".[8]

In 2005, she starred with actress Piper Perabo in the films The Cave and Imagine Me & You. The Cave was not well received by critics[9] and did poorly at the box office.[10]

The romantic comedy-drama Imagine Me & You received a limited release and earned positive reviews. Critics praised Headey's performance as a lesbian in the film; Mick LaSalle from the San Francisco Chronicle stated that the actress "has a forthright, irresistible appeal and a face and especially a smile that suggest intelligence, integrity and lots of fun".[11]

Headey played Queen Gorgo in Zack Snyder's 300. Headey had to do nude scenes in the film. "It's always weird the thought of taking your clothes off in front of 20 people and then to have it projected in front of many more", she told IndieLondon during an interview. "I think it was necessary because we only get that scene to establish their relationship. It is a very obvious moment but I think it does it in quite a beautiful way."[12]

Headey at the 2007 Scream Awards

In addition to her film work, Headey starred in Fox's Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, a television spin-off of James Cameron's popular Terminator franchise. Headey played Sarah Connor from January 2008 to April 2009. The show ran for 31 episodes in two seasons until its cancellation in May 2009. Variety praised "Headey's gritty performance as Sarah – managing to be smart, resourceful and tough, yet melancholy and vulnerable as well" and that the Chronicles "continue to deliver", getting "considerable mileage out of the constant peril" facing the characters.[13] She was nominated twice for the Saturn Award for Best Actress on Television for the role.

Headey has also appeared in a number of independent films, such as The Red Baron, a biographical film of the legendary World War I fighter pilot Manfred von Richthofen, in which she appeared alongside Matthias Schweighöfer and Joseph Fiennes.[14] Her character was the love interest Käte Otersdorf, a nurse who may or may not have had a romance with Richthofen in real life.[15] She also appeared as the stuffy Miss Dickinson in the 2007 release of the St. Trinian's series. She starred in the Ridley Scott produced Tell-Tale, a film based on the short story "The Tell-Tale Heart" by Edgar Allan Poe. The movie went straight to DVD on 25 May 2008.[16]

In 2008, Headey starred in the horror film The Broken. The film was directed by Academy Award-nominated Sean Ellis.[17] The film was about "a woman who suspects she's being followed around London by a murderous doppelganger".[18] The Broken was screened at the midnight portion of the 2008 Sundance Film Festival, and generally got average reviews. Some critics praised Headey's performance, including Kim Koynar of Cinematical who wrote that Headey "largely carries the film, and does so quite ably".[19]

Headey was cast in the lead part in another horror film titled Laid to Rest, which was first screened in 2008. However, the film went straight to video on 21 April 2009 and earned mixed reviews. Critic Mark H. Harris for About.com stated that the film "has a great look and boasts an impressive cast," referring to both Headey and co-star Thomas Dekker.[20] Headey had a part in a short film called The Devil's Wedding. She provided her voice for an episode of the Cartoon Network TV series The Super Hero Squad Show playing Black Widow and Mystique.

2010s: Game of Thrones[edit]

Since its premiere in April 2011, Headey has portrayed queen regent Cersei Lannister on the HBO series Game of Thrones, based on George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series of novels.[21] Her performance as the ruthless queen has received critical acclaim.[22][23][24] In 2011, she was nominated for a Scream Award in the category of Best Fantasy Actress for the role.[25] Headey was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for portraying Cersei in 2014[26][27] and 2015.[28]

Headey made a guest appearance in the television show White Collar in the episode "Taking Account" in which she played the role of Sally. In 2012, she appeared in the 3D action science-fiction film Dredd alongside Karl Urban and Olivia Thirlby. Her character is Madeline Madrigal (Ma-Ma), the leader of a drug dealing gang, and the project's primary villain.[29] Dredd is a film adaptation of 2000 AD character Judge Dredd.[30] The film was directed by Pete Travis with a script by Alex Garland.[31] In May and June 2012, Lena filmed the fantasy adventure movie The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box throughout South West England, playing the role of Monica. The film was released in 2014.[32]

She re-teamed with Ethan Hawke to co-star in The Purge, a 'micro-budget' horror film, which opened on 7 June 2013 at number one position in the United States, grossing over $US36 million over the weekend.[33]

In 2013, Headey was cast as Jocelyn Fray in The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones opposite Lily Collins and Jamie Campbell Bower. The film never received a sequel, and Headey will not reprise her role in the Freeform TV series Shadowhunters.

Following the success of 300, Headey reprised her role as Queen Gorgo in the 2014 sequel, 300: Rise of an Empire.

Headey also appeared in the 2014 biopic Low Down, a film which detailed the life of jazz pianist Joe Albany, as well as playing the wife of Patrick Wilson's character in Zipper in 2015. In July 2015, it was reported that Headey will voice Jeopardy Mouse in Danger Mouse, a reboot of the 1981 TV series of the same name, which was broadcast on CBBC in late 2015. Headey stated that "I wanted to do it because it was pure nostalgia for me. I have children now and it’s just a treat to be involved in something that you loved as a kid and be able to share it. Those moments as an actor that come along once in while are not to be missed."[34] She will appear alongside Alexander Armstrong as Danger Mouse and Stephen Fry as Colonel K.[35]

In 2016, Headey co-starred in the horror film Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, opposite her former Game of Thrones, Century and The Contractor co-star Charles Dance.

In the media[edit]

She has appeared on the covers of TV Guide, G3, Sunday Mirror and Germany's Filmstar. She ranked No. 64 on the Maxim magazine Hot 100 of 2007 list. She was listed at No. 4, No. 10 and No. 3 in AfterEllen's list of the Hot 100 in 2007, 2008 and 2009, respectively.[36] In 2008, Headey spoke out against animal abuse in an advert for animal welfare group PETA.[37] Headey supports the LGBT organisation NOH8[38] and in April 2015 appeared on a T-shirt designed by them and sold through Represent.com to raise funds for the cause.[39] In 2015, she appeared on the cover of More.[40]

Personal life[edit]

Headey was once engaged to Johnny Cicco, and dated actor Jason Flemyng for nine years, from 1994 to 2003. She and Flemyng met during the filming of The Jungle Book, and she had a tattoo of his name in Thai on her arm, which has since been covered. She was reportedly dating Marcos Domina, a Brazilian model, following her breakup with Flemyng. She was linked to Game of Thrones co-star Jerome Flynn, however the relationship reportedly ended badly, resulting in the two being kept apart on set.[41] She married musician Peter Loughran in May 2007.[42] Headey and Loughran have a son, Wylie Loughran, who was born on 31 March 2010.[43] She has spoken about suffering from postpartum depression following Wylie's birth.[44] Headey and Loughran separated in 2011 and she filed for divorce in the Los Angeles County Superior Court on 20 July 2012.[42] The divorce was finalized on 26 December 2013.[45]

In February 2015, Headey confirmed she was expecting her second child in the summer.[46] On 16 April 2015, Headey stated that the baby will be a girl.[47] On 10 July 2015, she gave birth to her second child, a daughter.

Headey has been close friends with actress Piper Perabo[48] since they starred together in the 2005 films The Cave and Imagine Me & You.[49] She has also campaigned on behalf of animal rights.[50] Headey was a vegetarian, however in a 2011 interview she stated she now eats meat again, albeit rarely.[51] Headey is good friends with her Game of Thrones co-stars Peter Dinklage and Pedro Pascal. She has said the former first pitched the role of Cersei Lannister to her.[52]

Headey has a number of tattoos, and has stated "I was born wearing ink."[53] Her tattoos include a large floral design on her back[54] as well as a Pema Chödrön quote on her ribs.[55] She told Esquire magazine that "I love tattoos. I find it calming."[56] Her tattoos often require covering when Headey works, although she has stated that "you can usually get away with it by keeping your clothes on."[56]



Year Title Role Notes
1992 Waterland Young Mary
1993 The Summer House Margaret
1993 Remains of the Day, TheThe Remains of the Day Lizzie
1993 Century Miriam
1994 The Jungle Book Katherine "Kitty" Brydon
1995 Grotesque, TheThe Grotesque Cleo Coal
1997 Face Connie
1997 Mrs Dalloway Young Sally
1998 Man with Rain in His Shoes, TheThe Man with Rain in His Shoes Sylvia Weld
1999 Inside-Out Window Dresser Short film
1999 Onegin Olga
2000 Ropewalk Allison
2000 Gossip Cathy Jones
2000 Aberdeen Kaisa
2001 Parole Officer, TheThe Parole Officer Emma
2002 Anazapta Lady Matilda Mellerby
2002 Possession Blanche Glover
2002 Ripley's Game Sarah Trevanny
2003 Actors, TheThe Actors Dolores
2003 No Verbal Response Dr. Megan Pillay
2005 Brothers Grimm, TheThe Brothers Grimm Angelika
2005 Cave, TheThe Cave Dr. Kathryn Jennings
2005 Round About Five Girlfriend Short film
2005 Imagine Me & You Luce
2006 Vacancy Pam Bishop Short film
2006 300 Gorgo, Queen of Sparta
2007 Contractor, TheThe Contractor DI Annette Ballard Direct-to-DVD
2007 St Trinian's Miss Dickinson
2008 Broken, TheThe Broken Gina McVey
2008 Red Baron, TheThe Red Baron Käte Otersdorf
2008 Whore Mom
2009 Devil's Wedding, TheThe Devil's Wedding The Devil's Bride Short film
2009 Laid to Rest Cindy
2009 Tell Tale Elizabeth Clemson
2010 Pete Smalls Is Dead Shannah
2012 Dredd Madeline "Ma-Ma" Madrigal
2013 Purge, TheThe Purge Mary Sandin
2013 Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, TheThe Mortal Instruments: City of Bones Jocelyn Fray
2014 The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box Monica
2014 Low Down Sheila Albany
2014 300: Rise of an Empire Gorgo, Queen of Sparta
2015 Zipper Jeannie Ellis
2015 Unity Narrator Documentary
2016 Pride and Prejudice and Zombies Lady Catherine de Bourgh[57]
2016 Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV Lunafreya Nox Fleuret[58] Voice


Year Title Role Notes
1993 Screen Two Margaret Episode: "The Clothes in the Wardrobe"
1993 Spender Emily Goodman 2 episodes
1993 How We Used To Live Grace Palmer 3 episodes
1993 Soldier Soldier Shenna Bowles 3 episodes
1994 Fair Game Ellie Television film
1994 MacGyver: Trail to Doomsday Elise Moran Television film
1995 Devil's Advocate Clare Rigby Television film
1995 Loved Up Sarah Television film
1996 Ballykissangel Jenny Clark Episode: "The Things We Do for Love"
1996–1997 Band of Gold Colette 8 episodes
1997 Kavanagh QC Natasha Jackson Episode: "Diplomatic Baggage"
1997 Hunger, TheThe Hunger Steph Reynolds Episode: "Ménage à Trois"
1998 Merlin Queen Guinevere 3 episodes
2002 Gathering Storm, TheThe Gathering Storm Ava Wigram Television film
2004 Long Firm, TheThe Long Firm Ruby Ryder 2 episodes
2006 Ultra Penny / Ultra Pilot
2008–2009 Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles Sarah Connor 31 episodes
2009 Super Hero Squad Show, TheThe Super Hero Squad Show Black Widow
Episode: "Deadly Is the Black Widow's Bite!"
2011 White Collar Sally Episode: "Taking Account"
2011–present Game of Thrones Cersei Lannister Main role
2014–2016 Uncle Grandpa Aunt Grandma Voice
3 episodes
2015–present Danger Mouse Jeopardy Mouse Voice
3 episodes

Video games[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2009 Risen Patty / Cathy / Jasmin / Lily Voice
2012 Dishonored Callista Curnow Voice
2014 Game of Thrones Cersei Lannister Voice and likeness

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Work Result
2001 Silver Iris Award Best Actress Aberdeen Won[59]
2007 MTV Movie Award Best Breakthrough Performance 300 Nominated[60]
Teen Choice Award Choice Movie Actress: Action Adventure Nominated[59]
2008 Saturn Award Best Supporting Actress Nominated[59]
Best Actress on Television Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles Nominated[59]
Scream Award Best Science Fiction Actress Nominated
SFX Award Best Television Actress Nominated[59]
2009 Saturn Award Best Actress on Television Nominated[59]
Scream Award Best Actress in a Science Fiction Movie or TV Show Nominated
2011 Portal Award Best Actress on Television Game of Thrones Nominated
Scream Award Best Fantasy Actress Nominated
Best Ensemble Nominated
Women's Image Network Award Actress Drama Series Nominated[61]
2012 Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series Nominated
Saturn Award Best Actress on Television Nominated[59]
EWwy Award Best Supporting Actress, Drama Won
Golden Nymph Award Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series Nominated
Portal Award Best Actress on Television Won[62]
2013 Online Film & Television Association Award Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series Nominated
SFX Award Best Television Actress Nominated
2014 Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series Nominated
Online Film & Television Association Award Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series Nominated
Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series Nominated[26][27]
Women's Image Network Award Actress Drama Series Won[63]
2015 Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series Nominated
Empire Award Empire Hero Award Won[64]
Online Film & Television Association Award Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series Nominated
Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series Nominated[28]
2016 Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series Nominated
Saturn Award Best Supporting Actress on Television Nominated[65]
Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series Pending[66]


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External links[edit]