Hannah Waddingham Says ‘Game of Thrones’ Role Gave Her ‘Horrific’ Chronic Claustrophobia

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Before Hannah Waddingham became an Emmy-wining household name for her work in Ted Lasso. She had a very memorable role in Game of Thrones as Septa Unella, the religious zealot who tortures Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) with that unforgettable walk of “shame” and is later left to be tortured by her henchman Gregor Clegane aka the Mountain (Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson).

All together, Waddingham starred in eight episodes across Seasons 5 and 6, but it was her final appearance in the decorated HBO series that left her with lasting scars — at least, figuratively speaking.

Waddingham appeared on Monday night’s edition of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to promote her new movie with Ryan Gosling, The Fall Guy, and revealed just how excruciating her sendoff scene in the series was to film.

“There weren’t stunts, but Thrones gave me something I wasn’t expecting from it and that is chronic claustrophobia,” she told Stephen Colbert. “‘Cause I had 10 hours — I mean, I’ve talked about it since with David Benioff and Dan Weiss, the two executive producers on it, I was like, ‘Good job it’s for them because it was horrific.’ 10 hours of being actually waterboarded — like actually waterboarded.”

When Colbert expressed skepticism over her claim that she was legitimately subjected to the controversial torture tactic in the name of fiction, she insisted it was so.

Thrones is — the reason why I don’t believe it’s touched yet in terms of the cinematography of it for a series, it’s just a different level — with that comes actual waterboarding,” Waddingham explained.

The actress went on to explain that even with strap marks all over her body and hair that’d turned purple from the grape juice of the scene, she walked away thinking the pain was worth it.

“It kind of doesn’t matter when you’re in Game of Thrones because you just want to give the best [performance],” Waddingham said.

This isn’t the first time Waddingham has talked about the actual torture she endured on the set of Game of Thrones. She previously revealed to Collider in 2021 that she found out about the waterboarding en route to the set. originally, she explained, her character was going to be sexually assaulted by the Mountain, but due to viewer response to prior, similar scenes involving Sansa, they decided to change course.

“Unbelievably, they changed it quite at the last minute. I think they possibly changed it when I was mid-air flying to Belfast because suddenly I got sent these new sides that said I would need a wetsuit top. I thought they’d sent me the wrong bits,” Waddingham said. “They were like, ‘Oh, it’s going to be waterboarding instead.’ And I was like, ‘But we’re not actually doing waterboarding.’ And they were like, ‘No, no, no, we are.’”

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