Hannah Waddingham is best known to “Ted Lasso” fans as the complicatedly endearing AFC Richmond owner Rebecca on the light-hearted Apple TV+ comedy. But a quick costume change might remind any “Ted Lasso” viewers that also watched “Game of Thrones” of Waddingham’s iconic role from the HBO series: “shame” nun Unella.
And according to Waddingham, her final performance given as Unella was much less enjoyable than an average day on the “Ted Lasso” set, as she was “waterboarded” for 10 hours to shoot the scene in which Cersei (Lena Headey) gets revenge for all Unella has done to her.
Waddingham said in a recent interview with Collider Ladies Night, that the original form of torture was going to be Gregor Clegane, a.k.a. the Mountain (Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson), raping Unella on Cersei’s command.
“I think they’d had so many complaints about the rape of Sansa that they chose not to go with it. But, unbelievably, they changed it quite at the last minute,” Waddingham said. “I think they possibly changed it while I was mid-air, flying to Belfast because suddenly I got sent these new sides that said I would need a wetsuit top. And I thought they’d sent me the wrong bits. And sure enough when I got there, I was then put in the wetsuit top and I was like, ‘Because?’ and they were like, ‘Oh, it’s waterboarding instead.’ And I was like, ‘Oh, we’re not actually doing waterboarding?’ ‘No, no, no, we are.”
Waddingham says large straps were used to hold her down for the scene, which has Headey’s Cersei pouring wine down her throat nonstop, with the one around her neck making her particularly uncomfortable.
“The one thing that I was really worried about, I didn’t want the strap tight around my neck, but as they pointed out if the camera can see you lifting your head up to save yourself, that’s not authentic,” she said. “And it was [‘Game of Thrones’ co-creator] Dan Weiss who came up to me and said, ‘Look, in the script, it says Cersei empties the remainder of her glass of red wine to wake up Unella. People aren’t going to think that’s enough. What you’ve put the character through, her character through, that is not enough retribution for Cersei. Especially for the kind of person that she is. It needs to be more like a three-quarters full or so — if we can cheat it, even more — carafe of wine.’ That’s what I mean about that moment of fight or flight… The one thing I kept thinking to myself was, the production company aren’t going to let you die, so get on with it, be uncomfortable.”
Waddingham says that, “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,” she added. “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.”
Waddingham says she would recommend others “push” themselves and be “uncomfortable” in service of their art as long as they do not feel unsafe, as she says she did not. But it’s still a lot to go through.
“It’s quite full on being waterboarded for 10 hours — and then only one minute and 37 seconds can be used on camera.”
HBO did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment on Waddingham’s remarks.