Lena Headey had ‘mixed’ feelings about Cersei’s story in GoT’s ‘The Bells’ (spoilers)

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SPOILERS for last night’s GoT episode “The Bells”

Maybe Cersei Lannister was history’s greatest monster because Lena Headey did such a great job smirking and getting day-drunk and arching her brow. Lena brought a lot to the character of Cersei, and as such, we had high expectations for Cersei’s eventual death. We convinced ourselves that it would be epic, that Jaime or Tyrion would strangle the f–king life out of her, or that Arya would ninja her way to Cersei, perhaps wearing one of Cersei’s brothers’ faces. Instead, Cersei died by architecture. She died in Jaime’s arms as the Red Keep collapsed on them. It was… unsatisfying. Lena thinks so too. Lena gave her “exit interview” to Entertainment Weekly, and here are some highlights:

Cersei was unhappy the whole season: “She starts off in this final season trapped in a web of her own making, as is usual with Cersei. She’s desperately unhappy and everything that’s happened becomes more real than it ever has for her. She starts to lose control of the situation. She’s destroyed every good alliance, connection, love in her life — she was always destined to be alone. And until the very, very last minute, she is, as ever, in denial of what’s actually happening.”

Lena wanted Cersei’s final moments to be bigger: Headey says her reaction that final scene was “mixed” at first. “I wanted her to have some big piece or fight with somebody,” she says. But then the actress talked over the scene with Coster-Waldau and came around to appreciating Cersei’s final moments. “The more we talked about it the more it seemed like the perfect end for her. They came into the world together and now they leave together.”

Jaime & Cersei: “I think the important thing is that Jaime had a chance at freedom [with Brienne] and finally liberated himself from Cersei, which I think the audience will be thrilled about,” Headey adds. “I think the biggest surprise is he came back for her. Cersei realizes just how she loves him and just how much he loves her. It’s the most authentic connection she’s ever had. Ultimately they belong together.” In that last moment, staring at her brother, waiting for the end, Headey says, “It’s maybe the first time that Cersei has been at peace.”

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau was sentimental when they shot those scenes: “I told Nikolaj, ‘I’ve never seen you so sweet and sentimental.’ And he’s all, ‘What’s happening to me?’ We kept cuddling going ‘I love you.’ It was weird. There’s a sense of loss that nothing like this will ever happen again. There was a great sense of grief and an enormous amount of gratitude going on.”

Her last days: Otherwise, Headey recalls her last day on set as “walking up and down the stairs 20,000 times” to the cellar, and “a lot of crying.” Showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss gave her and Coster-Waldau “these lovely frames and lovely messages”

Her favorite scenes to play: “I had a lot of great ones — that one with Mark Addy [Robert Baratheon] back in the first season. Those early scenes with Tyrion where you saw their relationship develop. The stuff with Sophie early on. Everything that shaped these characters. The scene where she tells her father that her and Jaime were lovers. We had some great stuff. I love the juicy dark emotional moments.”

[From Entertainment Weekly]

I think most of the main cast members are probably pretty happy to make it through to the penultimate episode, and I agree that it was time for Cersei to finally get what was coming to her. But I’m with her on the mixed reaction… death by architecture was a let-down. Not having to face a final betrayal from one or both of her brothers was a let down. After all that f–king smirking and instigating and bulls–t, we wanted to see Cersei’s last f–king breath and the final sting of betrayal in her eyes.

Also, I won’t miss her stupid wiglet.

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Photos courtesy of HBO/Game of Thrones.

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79 Responses to “Lena Headey had ‘mixed’ feelings about Cersei’s story in GoT’s ‘The Bells’ (spoilers)”

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  1. Ellaus says:

    I just watched the episode. And I am so un believably angry at this death. Not only was it unsatisfying (Cersei’s) but it felt like a treason to Jaime’s character. Don’t get me started with Daenerys’ ….

    • snappyfish says:

      I am so angry over both this death & Daenerys. Seriously this show is dead to me. This episode proved that when using GRRM words the show was well done BUT when his words were gone… it became a massive misogynistic piece of woman in power must be or become mad BS. They ruined characters, rushed story lines, killed dragons & sent off Ghost without even a pat or ear scratch. GRRM has stated this is not his ending but after that mess last night I’m not sure I care to see what his will be. This season, that we waited almost 2 years for, has been awful. The ending, after last night, is predictable and disappointing no matter how it raggedly ties itself up.

      • Powermoonchrystal says:

        Not contradicting your opinion on the show at all. I get you. I thought I had read that GRRM has actuallly stated the ending will be the same for the main characters and the path may be different, which may explain why he has not finished the books.

    • Salted Watermelon says:

      This death was very unsatisfying. And they completely undid all growth on Jaime’s part. Shame.

      • Kateeeee says:

        I will not finish the show, but I will definitely finish the books (if grrm ever does, ha; I suspect even he feels boxed in by and dislikes his original ending, which is maybe why he wont just finish them already?).

  2. Reeta Skeeter says:

    I felt that the way they wrote and engineered this death just felt wrong. Even if Cersei died with Jamie, it could have been done SO much better. I was just so completely disappointed. Cersei was one of the most brilliantly written and acted characters of the series, and the way they ended her just felt….blah.

    • ByTheSea says:

      He should’ve killed her (his final redemptive arc) and then the ceiling collapsed on him (he deserved to die).

    • Bella DuPont says:

      The truth is, I just can’t kmagine any death that would have been good enough for her, she was so aweful. I already braced myself for the worst (ie her escaping), that I was still at least relieved that the bitch died.

      Also, did Jon Snow die? Who was Arya looking at with the charred sword that looked like Jon’s sword? Anybody know?

      • Lory says:

        I think that was a childrens toy, not the sword of Jon Snow. It was a child in the arms of a parent still clutching her/his toy.

    • Mia4s says:

      Hey at least Jamie’s hand grew back for the final embrace, LMAO!!!:


    • Veronica S. says:

      Wouldn’t it have made far more sense for Jaime to kill her?? He didn’t have to be cruel, but he needed to answer for his complicity in her evil. It makes far more sense for me for him to have to carry the burden of putting his sister down, giving her the merciful death nobody else would, and having to live with it. Thematically, it still allows him to backslide while not completely destroying all of his character development. My God, as a writer, this show just drives me up a goddamn wall. It’s so elementary the stuff they fail at.

  3. Abby says:

    here i was holding up hope that cersei would actually make it from the ‘death by architecture’ scene to finally die the way she deserves.only to find out she is actually dead on celebitchy,nopw i’m just angry at GOT.how can I have waited 2 years for this

  4. Lex says:

    Daenerys is goneski. Every Stark will be against her plus every townsperson left in KL.

    Cersei and Jamie’s fate was an anticlimax………………. he should have murdered her! They reduced Brienne to a weeping fool.

    We will see.

    Arya and Sansa still have a job to play.

    Will Tyrion murder Dany?

    Ser Davos won’t be happy!

    • Megan says:

      Based on the way Arya was staring at the bodies of the mother and daughter, I think she is going to kill Dany.

      • Himmiefan says:

        I hope so! Jon won’t want the throne, so Tyrion will be king and will ask Sansa to rule with him – or they’ll all nominate Sansa to be queen. They’ve had two evil females, so they need a competent female in the mix at the end.

        Oh, and Cersei didn’t love Jamie at the end, I don’t think, she just saw him as possible help to get out of the keep.

      • Megan says:

        If the theory about Tyrion being a Targ is true, I assume Bran told him during their chat. His claim to the throne is somewhat legit.

    • ByTheSea says:

      Dany is trying to lay everything to ash, so her next stop is Winterfell to finish off the Starks for their betrayal.

    • AryasMum says:

      I love Tyrion but I want the Lannister line to die.

  5. Lizzie says:

    whatever BS the show runners put her through – she acted for her life. her final scenes weren’t satisfying writing but she and nikolaj’s acting certainly were heartbreaking and elevated the material, in my opinion. i believed her fear of dying and relief of being with jaime completely.

    • Jess says:

      I agree, I didn’t want to feel sorry for them but I did, just a little! They were two of the worst characters from the start, pushing Bran out a window and creating a demon child in Joffrey, and they absolutely did not deserve to die lovingly staring at each other, but they acted it out wonderfully.

      • Powermoonchrystal says:

        Completely agree. Their acting robbed me of the joy of watching Cersei die. It is like the ending gives you what you want but with a sick twist

    • LeaTheFrench says:

      I agree. Lena’s acting is more or less what redeems a very poorly written scene. She’s done a superb job throughout GOT at showing glimpses of Cersei’s humanity, and this is one of them (the other great one was when Joffrey died, you could really feel her pain as a mother. Before she lets rage consume her…) I like that Lena tried to show Cersei’s vulnerability in her final moment. But awful writing, that’s for sure.

      • AryasMum says:

        I don’t like her reaction to Joffrey’s death. She was so selfish she shoved Jaime away from Joffrey. I preferred the nonverbal reaction to Myrcella’s death.

    • Becks1 says:

      Lena has been amazing as Cersei. I think its part of the reason I’ve been a Cersei “fan” for the whole show (I didn’t want her to win, but I just love pretty much every scene with her, because she just holds your attention.)

      • Digital Unicorn says:

        Yeah, Lena is a great actress who hopefully starts getting some decent roles. Cersei was always an interesting character in the books but Lena really brought her to life.

        The show runners brought together a great cast, a cast that often elevated their sh!t scripts (even when they did stick to the books).

  6. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    Cersei needed a darker death. And I’m not talking about lighting lol.

  7. CharliePenn says:

    As a fan of this show, I have to say I’m pretty tired of people hating on everything that happens this season. Kaiser you have managed to make a pretty well balanced article here in which you aren’t thrilled with something in the episode but you also aren’t acting like you have lost some inalienable right!
    People are ruining this. Why can’t we appreciate and enjoy the show for what it is? It’s an unbelievable spectacle, a fantasy come to life for viewers. I just feel like this season everyone is losing their minds over any holes in the plot or bad writing. And I’m like “um… have you been watching this for years?” The show has always had issues like bad military decisions being made and plot holes etc etc.

    Take it for what it is, people! And enjoy! Cersei died how she died. The writers felt that was the best way for her. There’s obviously no goal for the writers to tie everything up with a perfect bow and give the viewers every satisfaction possible (I mean, this episode had children being terrorized and burned alive in the streets, the writers aren’t trying to make it all end well).

    • Mia4s says:

      “Why can’t we appreciate and enjoy the show for what it is?”

      Because art is subjective and a lot of people apparently hate this final season and think it’s been a load of crap? (people have also acknowledged some great moments and acting)

      If the reaction is upsetting you I would strongly recommend getting offline next week. It looks like the spoilers as to the Iron Throne resolution are true, and as far as anger and disappointment from fans, oh you haven’t seen anything yet! 😂

      • Bella DuPont says:

        FCS! Where can I find the spoilers pls? I don’t think I can wait for another week to resolve this!

      • Mia4s says:

        I don’t want to link out of an abundance of caution, but if you google “reddit game of thrones spoilers” you will see that thread. About 3 posts down is a one called “Game of thrones ending spoiled”. They have a link to a screenshot of spoilers that were taken down after being posted. They have been VERY accurate…and they have spoilers for the finale.

      • Bella DuPont says:

        Thanks Mia! 🙂

    • Candles says:

      This! I agree. I mean it is what it is, so let`s make the best of it.

  8. Jenns says:

    It’s a shame that she was reduced to staring outside and smirking this season. Lena deserved more than that.

    But, I was actually okay with her death. I never really hated Cersi and given her relationship with Jaime, I liked that they died together. I said this in another thread, but I never saw the Lannisters turning on each other. They’re too screwed up and co-dependent.

    • megs283 says:

      I really liked that Jaime went to die with her – I was worried there would be some epic battle to kill Cersei, and Jaime would fight Arya. My only complaint (of course there is one) is that the whole scene was rushed. Her death was over before I realized that it was happening…

    • Himmiefan says:

      Now the tall wildling (Tormund?) can go back to Brienne and prove that he’s the right guy for her. Brienne in wedding armor and a bouquet!

  9. CharliePenn says:

    Hey, since I know everyone commenting here watched the episode, I have a question: did anyone else feel that a parallel was being made between the horrors in syria over the past two years and the horror in the streets of Kings Landing? Especially Arya, once covered in ash and bleeding from the face: to me she looked much like that Syrian child, the little boy sitting in the ambulance covered in ash and blood, that made headlines and captured peoples attention. When the scenes focused on her face I was so struck by the similarity. This episode was based on such fantasy: a dragon burning a city! But the images seemed real and it’s not a fantasy to have a city full of innocents destroyed!

    Just wondering if I’m drawing my own parallels or if this is something that struck anyone else while watching? All these innocent lives lost and people maimed and hurt, while the powers responsible stand far above in a tower or ride a dragon… very metaphorical to me.

    • gingersnaps says:

      DB & DW said that they wanted to show the viewers the terror of war and how the small folk who endure its hardships and violence.

    • LindaM says:

      I thought about that child as well. It was horrifying.

    • Erinn says:

      I think the whole series has a TON of parallels to actual events. And I find it so interesting the way people react to certain things – because if it wasn’t being done with dragons or whatever, it’d be a lot more clear that it’s absolutely horrible. It’s really interesting how people can justify some things, but not others. But that’s basically our experience as humans – we have it in us to justify things that are wrong if we truly believe they’re for the greater good.

    • Wisca says:

      Definitely anti war & true in its portrayal of Jamie returning to his sister-lover. People often return to the original familial wounds even if it “doesn’t make sense” to outsiders.

      George W. Bush, whose response to 9/11 we will live with for decades or more, & who was responsible for the death of hundreds of thousands or more, will most likely die of old age surrounded by loved ones.

    • Ennie says:

      Syria, NY, Nagasaki, the bloodiness of war, of war before 1942 particularly and. The mess created by bombs and invading armies which are merciless and kill indiscriminately. Sadly, There are plenty if examples modern and ild, with representatives from many ethnicities and cultures

  10. Loretta says:

    This season is a mess and the last episodes are rotten on RT. Awful

  11. Lucy says:

    I wish she would have learned about Gendry. Idk if he’s her son or not, but she wanted all the Baratheon bastards dead.

  12. broodytrudy says:

    Literally crushed by everything she has worked for to maintain, and reduced to tears and broken at the end. It certainly wasn’t cinematic, but it was absolutely satisfying. Lena was criminally under utilized this season, but my god i hope she gets an emmy. She carries the show.

  13. Lexilla says:

    I don’t watch this show but I love the recaps. I have to ask — what’s up with the busted Buster Brown wig? It’s hard to imagine Cersei as such a villain with this hair.

    • Ladiabla says:

      I read somewhere that Lena named the wig “the turnip” lol

    • Megan says:

      Someone in hair and make up must hate Lena. They spent $15 million an episode this season, surely there was money for a decent wig.

    • Himmiefan says:

      Lexilla, Cersei’s hair was cut off a few seasons ago when she was arrested and marched naked through the streets for her promiscuity and other sins.

  14. Cee says:

    My group chat was full of I NEED TO SPEAK TO THE MANAGER comments. We feel ripped off. Cersei deserved a better death.

  15. Rae says:

    I was so disappointed as well. But not just for this episode; the entire season has let down the Cersei arc. She’s done nothing but stare into the distance and sneer. A bit like my grievance with the Night King story…limp ending to something being built up for seven seasons!

    But mostly I’m gutted about Jaime. I get what they’re going for but, as someone who always tries to see the best in people, his arc was on course to be one of the best on the show. Now it effectively got scribbled out to make a “poetic” ending.

    I hope GRRM does far better with his version (if he ever gets round to it).

    • Andrea says:

      I agree…NK was a weak ending to such a buildup.

      Jaime’s arc was ruined completely and I hope GRRM redeems him better in the books. I have never been this disappointed in a character in a very long time.

  16. Texas says:

    The true travesty was that wig.

  17. SURFCHICK says:

    I loved it. One of them killing her was predictable. This ending was full circle of their love for each other and his own words, dying in the arms of the woman he loved. It was fitting. She was an excellent character, played extremely well. Just look at how many people loathed her?! That’s great acting.

  18. Pineapple says:

    Cersei and Jamie are literally buried under all of their lies and horribleness. They died together, in each other’s arms, as it has always been predicted. They loved one another all of their lives, they had children together, they were expecting another one. I had hoped Jamie was heading to Kingslanding to kill Cersei … I (kind of) have ended up loving that they died together. Buried together.

    “Not like this, not like this.”

    I love that in the end Cersei begged to not die that way … she brought so many horrific deaths to others. She deserved being buried under the weight of all she attempted to attain and control. Buried in the depths.

  19. Sparker says:

    Their death explained that creepy relationship though. You could see how they’d have bonded as children against a great terror by watching how they comforted each other in death. So fucking sad.

  20. Andrea says:

    I still wonder what happened between Lena Headey and Jerome Flynn.

    • SURFCHICK says:

      I read bad break up in several articles.

    • AryasMum says:

      She also had a baby at some point. I wonder if that was part of the drama.

      • Andrea says:

        Supposedly they briefly dated in 2002! Long before she had her children..It is super odd that it was so bad that they couldn’t put their differences aside for the show.

      • SURFCHICK says:

        Not really sure but that must have been one bad break up! I also read that SHE was the one who asked to not film together. Who knows.

  21. Bishg says:

    SO basically at the beginning of Season 8, with both Jaimie and Tyrion out of King’s Landing, and Jerome Flynn and Lena Headley unwilling to shoot any scenes together, the writers couldn’t come up with ANYTHING less tedious to have Bronn do than send him on an useless mission to kill two of his buddies??

  22. Skeptical says:

    IS Cersei dead?

    • Other Renee says:

      Skeptical, that is exactly what my daughter asked. She doesn’t think so.

  23. Veronica S. says:

    To me, it’s the fact that D&D couldn’t even let a complex female villain go out on powerful terms. She had to be “humanized” (i.e. get emotional) toward the end. Where is the vicious, smirking queen she was all along at the end? Where’s the defiance? The rage that carried her this far? EVEN HERE, they had to reduce a woman to her bare emotions. It’s so goddamn infuriating on every level. In any other context, it could have worked, this idea of the brilliant, scheming queen being taken out by something so meaningless and random, but here is just another reminder of the writer’s utter disrespect for women. Lena Headey is one of the best actresses on the show, and what she gave that character deserved far more respect than what was given.

    • Laur says:

      Yes she’s a scheming queen but she’s also human and she’s been humanised before in the show, I really don’t see how this death is the writers somehow showing her to be weak because she’s a woman. The way they met up on that big floor map when literally their entire world is caving in was somehow poetic, and I don’t think the writers should always give us what we want every single time. What would be the point?

  24. Marie says:

    This last season is void, poorely written and rushed. What a waste.

  25. Nibbi says:

    I feel like the only person on the earth who didn’t mind this death. I thought it was surprising and emotional and sort of sweet. It reminds me of how they humanized her with the “Walk of Atonement,”, which added to the complexity and richness of her character and the show overall. She’s this abhorrent, gross character, but there’s still dimension… feeling scared to die and wanting for her baby to live and weeping with shock and relief at finding Jaime at the end actually felt really believable to me. I thought it was ironic and sort of beautiful how at the very end, SHE’S the one who ended up showing a tiny shred of humanity by finally surrendering, if only out of fear for herself and her baby, and Dany’s the one who went mad-queen apeshit, murdering and burning (unnecessarily!!!) the entire city despite that… I felt like it was oddly parallel (did I mention UNEXPECTED?!) that she ended up human in her final moments, reflecting her final surrender with the ringing of the bells… I kinda feel like everyone’s being so pissed at her not having the grisly, satisfying betrayal/ justice sort of death everyone WANTS to see is actually kinda childish. This show has been so addictive from the beginning precisely because of the unexpected twists that ultimately seem weirdly realistic, in a way, simply because they are NOT expected or hoped-for (see: Ned’s beheading, the Red Wedding, etc.) … In retrospect, it kind of makes sense that she wouldn’t make it out of the Red Keep alive, and that none of the satisfying assassins we wanna see would actually reach her, given everything.
    Not gonna lie, I totally expected that circumstances would be different, and that Jaime would end up killing her in some really awful, melodramatic way… and then I ended up feeling sort of choked up about their death together! I also agree with everyone that the two acted the shit out of that scene. It was weirdly dark, sweet, and horrible… how they came into the world together and left it together, how Jaime died “in the arms of the woman he loved,” all those callbacks to the past. I felt like it was a pretty amazing episode that I’ll be thinking about and analyzing for a long time.
    *** also, why is no one talking about that white horse?!! Doesn’t it really mean something like Arya being some sort of Azor Ahai/ favored by the gods figure after all?? Everyone’s so busy being pissed about their characters not getting the ending they wanna see, and there’s no analysis of these other odd moments…

    • Alyse says:

      I also thought it was a decent death – it reminded me of how Hitler died, y’know? No one got to kill him, but he saw all of his plans falling around him & he died with his love. So kind of realistic.

      Lena was amazing all 8 seasons.

      Meanwhile, I was v disappointed in Jaime’s arc. Felt like a waste of time. Didn’t really make sense.

      • Dee Kay says:

        I also thought about Hitler in his bunker. I mean, Pol Pot died an old man in a bed (well, in a cave but he was living in that cave in relative luxury). Not every monster gets the vicious execution people think they deserve. Cersei in a way “cheated” us of the spectacle of her execution…but we already got the spectacle of her being paraded through KL naked, with insults and rotten food hurled at her, and as Nibbi says, the audience felt more sympathy for her when that happened than at any other time. I think Cersei has always been one of those characters that defies expectations, that makes us hate her when we should feel for her (like when her children died), and that makes us feel something for her when we should hate her.

  26. HeyThere! says:

    I’m not going to lie, I kept waiting for Arya to throw a knife and have it land straight into her eyeball. Oh well. I suppose they won’t give Arya every big kill. Lol. She already killed the king of the undead. After last night I’m trying to figure out who is leftover! 😂

  27. Andrea says:

    Does anybody feel Brianna will be pregnant with Jaime’s kid to redeem him?

  28. AppleTartin says:

    I kept reading comments that George RR kept saying in interviews people will hate how it ends. So in that I take some satisfaction that he and the writers aren’t giving the people what they want. This is what it is.

    I thought it was a lame way to go out too. But for Cersei there was a bit of comeuppance. In the fact she died the same way she had killed people. When she blew up the Church. Kinda ironic she had a building fall in on her the same way.

    I will say it was 100% out of character for her not to have some grand plan. Just expecting the Iron Fleet and swords for hire to defeat her enemies. At the least she could have had some devious plan to lure and trap Daney and the Dragon. But then again this is the problem with 6 episodes. I think we all expected so much more waiting 2 years for this to end and it’s with a thump not a nuclear