Chapter 2: The 2010s

On April 1, 2010, Lena gave birth to a son named Wylie Elliot Loughran, in England. Lena and Peter were absolutely thrilled about being first time parents to their bouncy bundle of joy! Motherhood did not slow Lena down one bit! She continued filming for Game of Thrones, along with working on movies including Pete Smalls is Dead (2010), a comedy co-starring buddie Peter Dinklage. It tells the story of two old pals who attend an old friend’s funeral and find there is more to his death than meets the eye. Pete Smalls is Dead was screened at several film festivals.

About three months following her son’s birth, Lena was back to work on her newest project – Game of Thrones. The epic drama chronicles the violent dynastic struggles among noble families for control of the Iron Throne of Westeros. Game of Thrones‘ budget has been compared to that of Rome and its first shooting of the pilot reportedly costing HBO between $5 to $10 million. The anticipation for the series was extremely high, with a dedicated fan base closely following the show’s development. While a pilot was filmed in 2009, several of the roles were recast and many scenes re-filmed. Parts of a scene involving Lena and Sophie Turner’s characters, Cersei Lannister and Sansa Stark, did make it into the final version of the pilot. However, it was spliced together with new footage as another actress in the scene had been recast.

Next, Lena was set to star in yet another horror movie directed by friend Robert Hall called Old Scratch (2011). Even more excitingly, it would have re-united Lena with her dear friend Thomas Dekker as well. The story follows a washed up musician living in his own faded shadow in Atlanta. One night, after another sparsely attended gig, one of his former bandmates shows up and plays one of their own demo records backwards with fatal consequences. Now he must return to his roots and revisit a past he had hoped would stay forever buried. They begun filming the movie then a teaser trailer and an official website was released, but it doesn’t seem as though it sadly ever finalized. At the Comic-Con Convention in July 2010, Robert Hall said he was still trying “to get it finished”, but no more information has been released since.

On top of this all, Lena made it a goal to do more work as a director. She has already directed a short called Desperados/The Sophisticates (2008-2011), a funny ensemble comedy featuring John Cleese (with whom she co-starred with in The Jungle Book all the way back in 1994) and, friend, Piper Perabo, among others. She hopes to get it financed in the future, but the last we heard of this project was in 2011. Lena had another directing project in the works, called Kill Drug, a movie which she would have directed, co-written, and co-starred; however, it has unfortunately been since scrapped, at least for the time being.

Lena, Peter, and little Wylie lived for some time in the UK and Ireland as she filmed Game of Thrones. However, in November of 2010, the trio began the process of moving back to Lost Angeles. There they lived together for several years.

Despite Lena’s busy filming schedule with Game of Thrones, she managed to pursue several other roles. In 2011, she appeared on the popular US television series, White Collar, in the episode “Taking Account” playing a hacker’s former accomplice. This same year Lena was nominated for a Scream Award for Best Fantasy Actress for her role as Cersei Lannister.

Still from season 1 in 2011 of Game of Thrones and the first we saw of Lena as queen Cersei Lannister. Lena in the comedy Pete Smalls is Dead (2010). Starring in and directing the short film Desperados/The Sophisticates in 2008-2011. Guest appearance in the series White Collar in 2011. Photographed at the Comic-Con Convention in July 2011 together with some of the Game of Thrones co-stars.

The following year Lena appeared in the 3D action sci-fi film Dredd an adaptation of 2000 AD’s character Judge Dredd. Her character, Madeline Madrigal (Ma-Ma), was the leader of a drug dealing gang, and the film’s primary villain. Lena described portraying the character as, “The challenge of her is you’re dealing with someone who’s pretty much dead – apart from physically. She fears nothing, she embraces the thought of death, and I thought she’d be an interesting character to play”. The film received positive response from critics for its visual effects, casting, and action; however, there was harsh criticism on its use of violence and lack of faithfulness to the source material. The film made a disappointing $41.5 million at the box office, but the film would find greater success following its home release. It is not recognized as a cult film. While there were talks of a sequel, its low box office return has made that unlikely.

In May and June 2012, Lena began filming the fantasy adventure film The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box. Here she joined Sam Neil for a third time. The film was released in 2013. Over the next two years, Lena received more mainstream acclaim as Game of Thrones continued its growth and popularity. Lena also starred in horror film, The Purge (2013), it became a huge box-office success thanks to its micro-budget of $3 million and has spawned two sequels and a television series. That same year Lena was was cast as Jocelyn Fray in The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (2013). Despite the popularity of the young adult novels of the same name, the movie only made $90.6 million at the box office against a $60 million budget. As most of its revenue was made overseas, it was considered a flop. Any sequels were subsequently cancelled. The YA book series would eventually find a home as a television series called Shadowhunters on the network Freeform. Lena did not reprise her role.

Unfortunately, on July 20, 2012, Lena filed for divorce from Peter Loughran, claiming they’d been separated since 2011. The divorce was finalized on December 26, 2013. That year Lena made headlines as she and her soon-to-be ex-husband experienced a dispute over their tax refund. While she told the court that she was broke, the media vastly over exaggerated her claim. “Yes, there was a fascination with my bank account. Apparently I was down to my last five dollars…” she recalled in an interview.

Lena reprised her role as Queen Gorgo from the film 300 (2006) in the 2014 sequel, 300: Rise of an Empire. Despite receiving mixed reviews from credits, it grossed more than $330 million, over twice its budget. That same year she appeared in the biographical film Low Down. A stark contrast to the highly stylized 300 sequel, Low Down portrayed the life of jazz pianist Joe Albany. In 2014, Lena lent her voice to character of Aunt Grandma in the Cartoon Network animated series Uncle Grandpa. She would later reprise her role three more times until 2017 when the series ended.

Photographed as villain Ma-Ma in Dredd (2012). Photographed in 2013 for UK magazine The Evening Standard. In the film The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box (2013). Movie still from the now horror cult film The Purge in 2013. In 2014 movie 300: Rise of an Empire reprising the role as Queen Gorgo.

In 2015, Lena portrayed Patrick Wilson’s wife in the film Reckless/Zipper along with providing the voice of Jeopardy Mouse in the reboot series Danger Mouse. Lena said, “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 a while are not to be missed.” The series came to an end in 2017, but it would not be the last voice work in Lena’s career. That same year, she joined the Netflix animated series Trollhunters: Tales of Arcadia. The show follows the story of James Lake Jr., a teenage boy who finds a mysterious amulet and stumbles across a secret realm inhabited by trolls and other magical creatures. Soon afterward, he and his friends are charged with protecting our world from the dangerous monsters that lurk in the shadows of their small suburban town. Lena voiced the character of Morgana/The Pale Lady in the second and third seasons. The series was praised for its high quality and ambitious animation.

During the summer of 2016, Lena filmed a small role in the crime thriller, Thumper. The film follows a girl Kat Carter befriends classmate Beaver in a community where drugs and violence run rampant and realizes how deep the drug problem is. Harboring a dark secret of her own, she attracts the attention of the leader of a drug ring, Wyatt. Lena portrays the character of Ellen, Kat’s boss. The film premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 20, 2017, and on November 7, 2017, it was given a limited theatrical release. It was then released digitally via video on demand.

Lena has always spoken candidly about her struggle with mental health dating back to when she was fifteen and diagnosed with clinical depression. In a way to remove the shame and social stigma surrounding mental health, Lena revealed in a 2014 interview with the Telegraph that she was diagnosed with postnatal depression following Wylie’s birth. Previously, she’d been able to control her depression without the aid of medicine, but her new diagnosis made this impossible. “I went a bit nuts and eventually went to a guy who mixes Western and Eastern philosophy in terms of medicine and he put me on a course of something that changed everything.” However, her bout with postnatal depression did not damper her desire to have more children. Going as far as saying it was her dream, and luckily, her dream came true a little more than a year after the interview when Lena gave birth to her second child – a daughter whom she and her partner named Teddy.

For some time, Lena kept the identity of Teddy’s father private; however, he was eventually revealed to be Dan Cadan, a childhood friend. The two worked together on the short film The Devil’s Wedding which was released in 2009. In a 2017 New York Times profile, Lena’s engagement to Dan was confirmed and that the two were planning a 2018 summer wedding. But as far as we know the wedding has yet to occur.

In the same 2017 New York Times profile, Lena disclosed that she recently moved into a newly renovated 19th century Georgian manor near her parents’ home. Ever the doting mother, she claimed the entire relocation was for her children’s benefit. “I would’ve stayed in L.A. and played the game, but I wanted my kids to have a bit of grounding.” She recalled feeling she made the right choice when her son claimed he wanted to be just like his grandfather.

The next year, Lena joined her former Game of Thrones co-star, Charles Dance, in the horror film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. At the time of filming, Lena was in the early stages of pregnancy with her second child. She says the experience of playing such a bloody role while pregnant was “quite bizarre”; however, she greatly enjoyed the role.“‘Pride and Prejudice’ is a rite of passage for British actresses. But it was fun to be a tad camp for a minute — also, I got to wear an eye patch. My motivation doesn’t run much deeper than that, I’m afraid.”

Lena in the movie Reckless/Zipper (2015). With partner Dan Cadan at the 2018 premiere of Walk Like a Panther (2018) in which Lena has a cameo. Photographed for New York Times magazine in 2017. In horror/comedy zombie film Pride and Prejudice and Zombies in 2016. Seen in the 7th season in Game of Thrones (2011-2018).

Lena has continued to wow both critics and fans for her portrayal as the cunning Cersei Lannister. In fact, Lena has received four Emmy nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for her portrayal of the character. She has admitted that while she does not necessarily sympathize with the Cersei, she does admire her. In a 2017 interview with Time, she described Cersei as having “this storm inside — human pain that we all identify with.” Despite the confidence of her character, Lena has said that she is essentially the polar opposite – suffering from shyness and anxiety.

In 2017, we saw Lena take on a new role appearing in the music video for Kasabian’s ill Ray (The King). The video portrays Lena performing a magic ritual to resurrect Richard III in a Leicester car park. This is a reference to the fact that in 2012 the deceased monarch’s skeleton was found buried under a Leicester parking lot. As of January 2019, the video has over 3.5 million views.

While Lena remained busy throughout 2018 as she wrapped filming for Game of Thrones, she was able to appear in an episode of the the comedy Sally4Ever and attend the premiere for the British film Walk Like a Panther. The story follows a group of 1980s wrestlers are forced to don the lycra one last time when their beloved local pub, The Half Nelson, is threatened with closure. It was written and directed by Lena’s partner, Dan Cadan. Because of his involvement, she appeared in a cameo role in the film as Janet Winters. Furthermore, Lena lent her voice to the character of Big Mama in Nickelodeon’s Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It is unclear if Lena will be featured in any more episodes.

On May 13, 2018, Deadline announced that Lena was cast in the film Crooks, co-starring Juno Temple and Mark Kassen. The movie is set in Las Vegas in 1968, where a pair of hustlers, Johnny (Kassen) and Faye (Temple) rob the decaying Moonlight Casino. Faye double crosses Johnny and takes off with the money and is soon pursued by the oldest and deadliest assassin in town. Worse still, Faye meets Blanche (Headey), a friendly but crazy waitress, at a truck stop.

As Game of Thrones enters its final season of six episodes, we predict that Lena’s performance will be awe-inspiring as always, and likely, one that will be remembered. It is set to premiere in 2019. In the meantime, over the course of the next year, Lena has several upcoming films – the Stephen Merchant wrestling dramedy Fighting with my Family, the drama The Flood also starring her Game of Thrones co-star Iain Glen, and the heist thriller Crooks.

Lena Headey is an inspiration. Not only is she an intelligent, talented actress, but a fight in the truest sense of the word. She has lent her voice to help those not only suffering from mental illness, but also contributed her experiences in Hollywood to the #MeToo movement. Lena also has great compassion towards animals, even speaking out against animal abuse in an advertisement for the group PETA. While Lena describes herself as mostly vegetarian, she did reveal in an interview that she still rarely eats meat. She is also an avid supporter of LGBT rights supporting the group NOH8, and even helping fundraise for them.

With so many iconic roles under her belt, there is no doubt that Lena has proved her star power in Hollywood and has a continued bright future ahead of her.