Considering its high production value and intensely violent material, it’s no surprise that Game of Thrones secured a reputation as one of TV’s most difficult productions before it concluded its run in 2019. In an interview with Collider, Hannah Waddingham, who played Unella, one of the Septa of the Faith of Seven that served under the High Sparrow, recalled shooting a scene in which her character was tortured that became “the worst day of [the actress’] life.”
In the Season 6 finale, Lena Headey’s Cersei Lannister gets revenge on Unella. Unella had imprisoned Cersei before and shouted “shame” during her walk of atonement in one of the show’s most famous scenes. Unella is last seen being tortured by Cersei before being left in the hands of The Mountain.
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Waddingham recalled receiving updates to the script as she was flying out to film the scene. At first, she was confused by the sudden call for her to wear a wetsuit for the shoot.
“There I was, strapped to a wooden table with proper big straps for ten hours,” Waddingham said. “Other than childbirth, it was the worst day of my life. Lena [Headey] was uncomfortable pouring liquid on my face for that long and I was beside myself. In those moments you have to think ‘Do you serve the peace and get on with it?’ Or do you chicken out and go, ‘No, this isn’t what I signed up for.”
Waddingham went on to recall a later interaction she had with fellow Game of Thrones actor Eugene Simon, who played Lancel Lannister in the show.
“[Eugene] was like, ‘Oh my god, what happened to you today?’ I could barely speak because I’d been screaming through The Mountain’s hand,” Waddingham said. “I had no voice at all to barely whisper, bruises already coming up like I’d been attacked. I was like, ‘I’ve basically just been waterboarded for ten hours.’ And he went, ‘Mate, I’ve just been crawling through sh— for four days on my elbows…’ You haven’t been in Game of Thrones unless you’ve been really, really battered around.”
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Waddingham can now be seen as a main cast member on Apple TV+’s comedy series Ted Lasso. In our review of Season 1, IGN gave Ted Lasso a 9 and said “Waddingham brings comedic nuance” in the role of Rebecca, the owner of the show’s central English football club.
In other Game of Thrones news, HBO’s first spin-off series House of the Dragon recently entered production. For a rundown on what Westeros lore the prequel show could dive into, read our explainer on the upcoming project.
J. Kim Murphy is a freelance entertainment writer.