Lena Headey

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Lena Headey
Headey, Lena (2007).jpg
Headey at the 2007 Scream Awards in Los Angeles, California.
Born(1973-10-03) 3 October 1973 (age 41)[1][2]
Hamilton, Bermuda
ResidenceLos Angeles, California, United States
Years active1992–present
Spouse(s)Peter Loughran (m. 2007; div. 2013)
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Lena Headey
Headey, Lena (2007).jpg
Headey at the 2007 Scream Awards in Los Angeles, California.
Born(1973-10-03) 3 October 1973 (age 41)[1][2]
Hamilton, Bermuda
ResidenceLos Angeles, California, United States
Years active1992–present
Spouse(s)Peter Loughran (m. 2007; div. 2013)

Lena Headey (/ˈlnə ˈhdi/ LEE-nə HEE-dee; born 3 October 1973) is an English actress. When she was 17, her performance in a one-off show caught the attention of a casting agent, who took a photo and asked her to audition. Eventually she got a supporting role in the 1992 drama film Waterland and went on to appear in major films such as The Remains of the Day (1993), The Jungle Book (1994), Onegin (1999), and Aberdeen (2000).

After working steadily as an actress in small and supporting roles in films throughout the 1990s, she found fame for her lead performances in big-budget films like the fantasy film The Brothers Grimm (2005), in which she acted opposite Matt Damon and Heath Ledger, the action film 300 (2007), portraying the role of Gorgo, Queen of Sparta, and the adventure and biographical feature The Red Baron (2008).

Headey is also known for playing the title role Sarah Connor on Fox's television spin-off of James Cameron's Terminator film series Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (2008–09) and villainous drug lord Ma-Ma in Dredd. She has portrayed Cersei Lannister in HBO's television series Game of Thrones since 2011. Her performance on the show has earned her an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series.


Headey was born in Hamilton, Bermuda, the daughter of Sue and John Headey.[2] Her father, a Yorkshire police cadet, was stationed there at the time. She grew up in Shelley, West Yorkshire from the age of five.[3] Headey had her first experience of acting as a pupil at Shelley College and was noticed at seventeen, when performing in a school production at the Royal National Theatre, being picked for a role opposite Grant Warnock in the 1992 film Waterland.[4]

Headey has suffered bouts of clinical depression since the age of 15 and she said in an interview: "I was diagnosed when I was 15, and it comes and goes. I may suffer from it once or twice a year, but I now recognise it and deal with it. I don't use medication because I'm so worried about becoming dependent on it, but I can understand people who do, because you go through the most horrendous feelings of isolation."[1]


Early roles[edit]

At the age of 17, Headey performed in a one-off show and afterwards a casting agent took a photo and asked her to audition. Later, she got a supporting role in the drama Waterland, in which she had the opportunity to work with actors who had been in the business several years before her. She landed a small role in The Remains of the Day, which came out in 1993 and received eight Academy Awards nominations.

She played Katherine in Disney's The Jungle Book, released in 1994. The film had positive reviews and earned nearly $44 million in the United States.[5] Headey, alongside her co-stars received favourable reviews with James Berardinelli praising their "solid performances".[6] On the set of The Jungle Book, she met her boyfriend of nine years, actor Jason Flemyng.

After a number of film roles, she appeared opposite Vanessa Redgrave in the 1997 romantic drama Mrs Dalloway. Headey landed a supporting role in a higher-profile film titled Onegin, which starred Ralph Fiennes and Liv Tyler. The following year, she had the starring role in the drama Aberdeen. Headey received several good reviews for her performance in the film. She also had roles in 2000's Gossip and 2001's The Parole Officer.

She received the Silver Iris Award for Best Actress at the 2001 Brussels European Film Festival for her role in Aberdeen. In 2002, she had a role in the mystery drama Possession alongside Gwyneth Paltrow and Aaron Eckhart.

Rise to prominence[edit]

Headey at the 300 London premiere, 2007

Headey co-starred with Matt Damon and Heath Ledger in Terry Gilliam's The Brothers Grimm, which was released in August 2005. The film received mixed reviews. In an interview Headey spoke about her character in the film: "I loved the fact that she was a tomboy. That is what attracted me to her, that she wasn’t this predictable female character in this big film. You meet her and she is masking who she is. I loved that her environment dictated who she is. She lives and grows up and survives in the forest. Terry and I talked about how her instincts are almost animalistic and she can see 360 degrees around her. She is aware of what is going on. That is how she is grounded. She is of the earth".[7]

In 2005, she starred with actress Piper Perabo in the films The Cave and Imagine Me & You. The Cave was not well received by critics[8] and did poorly at the box office.[9]

The romantic comedy-drama Imagine Me & You received a limited release and earned positive reviews. Critics praised Headey's performance as a lesbian in the film; Mick LaSalle from the San Francisco Chronicle stated that the actress "has a forthright, irresistible appeal and a face and especially a smile that suggest intelligence, integrity and lots of fun".[10]

Headey played Queen Gorgo in Zack Snyder's 300, based on Frank Miller's graphic novel. Headey had to do nude scenes in the film. "It’s always weird the thought of taking your clothes off in front of 20 people and then to have it projected in front of many more", she told IndieLondon during an interview. "I think it was necessary because we only get that scene to establish their relationship. It is a very obvious moment but I think it does it in quite a beautiful way."[11]

In addition to her film work, Headey starred in Fox's Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, a television spin-off of James Cameron's popular Terminator franchise. Headey played Sarah Connor from January 2008 to April 2009. The show ran for 31 episodes in two seasons until its cancellation in May 2009. Variety praised "Headey's gritty performance as Sarah – managing to be smart, resourceful and tough, yet melancholy and vulnerable as well" and that the Chronicles "continue to deliver", getting "considerable mileage out of the constant peril" facing the characters.[12] She was nominated twice for the Saturn Award for Best Actress on Television for the role.

Low-profile films[edit]

Recent roles include the film The Red Baron, a biographical film of the legendary World War I fighter pilot Manfred von Richthofen, in which she appeared alongside Matthias Schweighöfer and Joseph Fiennes.[13] Her character was the love interest Käte Otersdorf, a nurse who may or may not have had a romance with Richthofen (Schweighöfer) in real life.[14] She also appeared as the stuffy Miss Dickinson in the 2007 release of the St. Trinian's series. She starred in the Ridley Scott produced Tell-Tale, a film based on the short story "The Tell-Tale Heart" by Edgar Allan Poe. The movie went straight to DVD on 25 May 2008.[15]

In 2008, Headey starred in the horror film The Broken. The film was directed by Academy Award-nominated Sean Ellis.[16] The film was about "a woman who suspects she's being followed around London by a murderous doppelganger".[17] The Broken was screened at the midnight portion of the 2008 Sundance Film Festival, and generally got average reviews. Some critics praised Headey's performance, including Kim Koynar of Cinematical who wrote that Headey "largely carries the film, and does so quite ably".[18]

Headey was cast in the lead part in another horror film titled Laid to Rest, which was first screened in 2008. However, the film went straight to video on 21 April 2009 and earned mixed reviews. Critic Mark H. Harris for About.com stated that the film "has a great look and boasts an impressive cast," referring to both Headey and co-star Thomas Dekker.[19] Headey had a part in a short film called The Devil's Wedding. She provided her voice for an episode of the Cartoon Network TV show The Super Hero Squad Show playing Black Widow and Mystique.

Game of Thrones[edit]

Since its premiere in April 2011, Headey has portrayed queen regent Cersei Lannister on the HBO series Game of Thrones, based on George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series of novels.[20] In 2011, she was nominated for a Scream Award in the category of Best Fantasy Actress for the role.[21] In July 2014 Headey was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for portraying Cersei.[22][23]

Other roles[edit]

Headey made a guest appearance in the television show White Collar in the episode "Taking Account" in which she played the role of Sally. In 2012, she appeared in the 3D action science-fiction film Dredd alongside Karl Urban and Olivia Thirlby. Her character is Madeline Madrigal (Ma-Ma), the leader of a drug dealing gang, and the project's primary villain.[24] Dredd is a film adaptation of 2000 AD character Judge Dredd.[25] The film was directed by Pete Travis with a script by Alex Garland.[26] In May and June 2012, Lena filmed the fantasy adventure movie The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box throughout South West England, playing the role of Monica. The film is scheduled for release in 2014.[27]

She re-teamed with Ethan Hawke to co-star in The Purge, a 'micro-budget' horror film, which opened on 7 June 2013 at number one position in the United States, grossing over $US36 million over the weekend.[28]


She has appeared on the covers of TV Guide, G3, Sunday Mirror and Germany's Filmstar. She ranked No. 64 on the Maxim magazine Hot 100 of 2007 list. She was listed at No. 4, No. 10 and No. 3 in AfterEllen's list of the Hot 100 in 2007, 2008 and 2009, respectively.[29] In 2008, Headey spoke out against animal abuse in an advert for animal welfare group PETA.[30]

Personal life[edit]

Headey was once engaged to Johnny Cicco, and dated actor Jason Flemyng for nine years, from 1994 to 2003. She and Flemyng met during the filming of The Jungle Book, and she has a tattoo of his name in Thai on her arm. She was reportedly dating a Brazilian model Marcos Domina following her breakup with Flemyng. She married musician Peter Loughran in May 2007.[31] Headey and Loughran have a son, Wylie Loughran, who was born on 31 March 2010.[32] Headey and Loughran separated in 2011 and she filed for divorce in the Los Angeles Superior Court on 20 July 2012.[31] The divorce was finalized on 26 December 2013.[33]

She is close friends with actress Piper Perabo.[34] She has also campaigned on behalf of animal rights.[35] Lena was a vegetarian, however in a 2011 interview she stated she now eats meat again, albeit rarely.[36] She practices boxing and yoga. "I also started Bikram Yoga," Headey said in an interview, "A few years ago I used to box in London and that held me in good stead."[37]



1992WaterlandYoung Mary
1993The Summer HouseMargaret
1993Remains of the Day, TheThe Remains of the DayLizzie
1994Fair GameEllieTelevision film
1994Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle BookKatherine "Kitty" Brydon
1994MacGyver: Trail to DoomsdayElise MoranTelevision film
1995Grotesque, TheThe GrotesqueCleo Coal
1995Devil's AdvocateClare RigbyTelevision film
1995Loved UpSarahTelevision film
1997Mrs DallowayYoung Sally
1998Man with Rain in His Shoes, TheThe Man with Rain in His ShoesSylvia Weld
1999Inside-OutWindow DresserShort film
2000GossipCathy Jones
2001Parole Officer, TheThe Parole OfficerEmma
2002AnazaptaLady Matilda Mellerby
2002Gathering Storm, TheThe Gathering StormAva WigramTelevision film
2002PossessionBlanche Glover
2002Ripley's GameSarah Trevanny
2003Actors, TheThe ActorsDolores
2003No Verbal ResponseDr. Megan Pillay
2005Brothers Grimm, TheThe Brothers GrimmAngelika
2005Cave, TheThe CaveDr. Kathryn Jennings
2005Round About FiveGirlfriendShort film
2005Imagine Me & YouLuce
2006VacancyPam BishopShort film
2006300Queen Gorgo
2007Contractor, TheThe ContractorDI Annette BallardDirect-to-video
2007St Trinian'sMiss Dickinson
2008Broken, TheThe BrokenGina McVey
2008Red Baron, TheThe Red BaronKäte Otersdorf
2009Devil's Wedding, TheThe Devil's WeddingThe Devil's BrideShort film
2009Laid to RestCindy
2009Tell TaleElizabeth Clemson
2010Pete Smalls Is DeadShannah
2012DreddMadeline 'Ma-Ma' Madrigal
2013Purge, TheThe PurgeMary Sandin
2013Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, TheThe Mortal Instruments: City of BonesJocelyn Fray
2014The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas BoxMonica
2014Low DownSheila Albany
2014300: Rise of an EmpireQueen Gorgo
2014ZipperJeannie EllisPost-production
2015Pride and Prejudice and ZombiesFilming


1993Screen TwoMargaretEpisode: "The Clothes in the Wardrobe"
1993SpenderEmily Goodman2 episodes
1993How We Used To LiveGrace Palmer3 episodes
1993Soldier SoldierShenna Bowles3 episodes
1996BallykissangelJenny ClarkEpisode: "The Things We Do for Love"
1996–1997Band of GoldColette8 episodes
1997Kavanagh QCNatasha JacksonEpisode: "Diplomatic Baggage"
1997Hunger, TheThe HungerSteph ReynoldsEpisode: "Menage a Trois"
1998MerlinQueen GuinevereTV Miniseries
2004Long Firm, TheThe Long FirmRuby Ryder2 episodes
2008–2009Terminator: The Sarah Connor ChroniclesSarah Connor31 episodes
2009Super Hero Squad Show, TheThe Super Hero Squad ShowBlack Widow / Mystique (voices)Episode: "Deadly Is the Black Widow's Bite!"
2011White CollarSallyEpisode: "Taking Account"
2011–presentGame of ThronesCersei Lannister36 episodes
2014Uncle GrandpaAunt Grandma (voice)Episode: "Aunt Grandma"

Video games[edit]

2009RisenPatty / Cathy / Jasmin / Lily (voices)
2012DishonoredCallista Curnow (voice)

Awards and nominations[edit]

2001Silver Iris AwardBest ActressAberdeenWon[38]
2007MTV Movie AwardsBest Breakthrough Performance300Nominated[39]
Teen Choice AwardsChoice Movie Actress: Action AdventureNominated[38]
2008Saturn AwardsBest Supporting ActressNominated[38]
Best Actress on TelevisionTerminator: The Sarah Connor ChroniclesNominated[38]
SFX AwardsBest Television ActressNominated[38]
2009Saturn AwardsBest Actress on TelevisionNominated[38]
2011Scream AwardsBest Fantasy ActressGame of ThronesNominated[21]
2014Primetime Emmy AwardsOutstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama SeriesGame of ThronesNominated[22][23]


  1. ^ a b "Lena Headey Biography". Lena-Headey.com (fan site). Retrieved 28 October 2012. 
  2. ^ a b "Lena Headey". TV Guide. 
  3. ^ "Lena Headey Biography". TV Guide. Retrieved 20 May 2014. 
  4. ^ Campling, Katie (16 January 2008). "Lena gets ready to terminate TV ratings". Huddersfield Daily Examiner. 
  5. ^ "Box Office / Business for The Jungle Book". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 10 October 2011. 
  6. ^ Berardinelli, James. "Review: The Jungle Book (1994)". Reel Reviews. Retrieved 10 October 2011. 
  7. ^ "Lena Headey, The Brothers Grimm Interview". Futuremovies.com.uk. Retrieved 10 October 2011. 
  8. ^ "The Cave (2005)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 10 October 2011. 
  9. ^ "The Cave". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 10 October 2011. 
  10. ^ LaSalle, Mick (24 June 2011). "She found the perfect wedding florist". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 10 October 2011. 
  11. ^ "300 – Lena Headey interview". IndieLondon.co.uk. Retrieved 10 October 2011. 
  12. ^ Lowry, Brian (3 September 2008). "Review Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles". Variety. Retrieved 4 September 2008. 
  13. ^ Meza, Ed (6 February 2007). "Warner flies with 'Baron'". Variety. 
  14. ^ Smith, David (16 March 2008). "Red Baron recast as a German hero". The Guardian (UK). Retrieved 10 October 2011. 
  15. ^ "Tell Tale Blu-ray and DVD Art". DreadCentral. Retrieved 10 October 2011. 
  16. ^ Barnes, Jessica (6 December 2006). "Lena Headey Stars in the Broken". Moviefone. Retrieved 10 October 2011. 
  17. ^ Chang, Justin (22 January 2008). "The Broken Movie review". Variety. 
  18. ^ "Sundance Review: The Broken". Cinematical. Retrieved 10 October 2011. 
  19. ^ "Laid to Rest DVD Review". About.com. Retrieved 10 October 2011. 
  20. ^ "Quick Hits: Set visits, Headey wraps and cameos". Winter Is Coming. 15 November 2010. Retrieved 20 November 2010. 
  21. ^ a b "SCREAM 2011". Spike TV. Retrieved 7 September 2011. 
  22. ^ a b Jacobs, Matthew (July 10, 2014). "Emmy Nominations 2014: Breaking Bad, Orange Is The New Black Among Top Nominees". The Huffington Post. Retrieved July 10, 2014. 
  23. ^ a b Brown, Tracy (July 10, 2014). "Emmys 2014: Complete list of nominees". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 10, 2014. 
  24. ^ Gallagher, Brian (11 January 2011). "Dredd Adds Lena Headey as Ma-Ma". Movieweb.com. Retrieved 10 October 2011. 
  25. ^ "Pete Travis to Direct 3-D Judge Dredd Reboot". ReelzChannel. 19 May 2010. Retrieved 10 October 2011. 
  26. ^ Stewart, Andrew (21 July 2011). "Lionsgate sets 'Dredd' for 2012". Variety. Retrieved 22 July 2011. 
  27. ^ Dawtrey, Adam (11 April 2012). "Aneurin Barnard tapped for ‘Mariah Mundi". Variety. Retrieved 30 July 2012. 
  28. ^ Coyle, Jake. "'The Purge' shocks with $36.4 million opening". Yahoo!. 
  29. ^ Warn, Sarah (11 May 2009). "The 2009 AfterEllen.com Hot 100". Afterellen.com. Retrieved 10 October 2011. 
  30. ^ "Watch Lena Headey in Peta advert". The Guardian (UK). 9 September 2011. Retrieved 10 October 2011. 
  31. ^ a b "Game of Thrones Star Lena Headey Files for Divorce". People. 25 July 2012. 
  32. ^ "Wiley's birthdate". Lena Heady Facebook page. 1 April 2011. "Wylie was a year old yesterday .." 
  33. ^ "'Game of Thrones' star Lena Headey strikes divorce settlement with ex". Toronto Sun. 26 December 2013. Retrieved 4 May 2014. 
  34. ^ Lee, Michael J (22 March 2007). "Piper Perabo". Interview. Radio Free Entertainment. 
  35. ^ "Peta interview". peta.org. 
  36. ^ http://imaginemeandyouthemovie.com/publicity/qalena_june2011.html
  37. ^ "She'll be back: The new 'Terminator' star Lena Headey". Daily Mail (UK). 8 February 2008. Retrieved 10 October 2011. 
  38. ^ a b c d e f "Lena Headey Awards". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 10 October 2011. 
  39. ^ "MTV Movie Awards Nominees: Pirates, Spartans – And That Crazy Kazakh". MTV. 8 May 2007. Retrieved 10 October 2011. 

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