Hannah Waddingham says ‘horrific’ Game of Thrones experience left her with long-lasting damage

Hannah Waddingham has recalled a “horrific” experience on Game of Thrones that left her with lasting damage.

Waddingham played Septa Unella in the HBO series, and shared the majority of her scenes with Lena Headey (Cersei Lannister), Jonathan Pryce (High Sparrow) and Icelandic strongman Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson (The Mountain).

The Ted Lasso actor, who recently said she had “no time” for criticism of her Mission: Impossible co-star Tom Cruise, previously called the filming of a particular Thrones scene, in which her character is tortured, “the worst day of my life”.

She has now opened up about the lasting damage this experience had on her, telling The Late Show with Stephen Colbert: “Thrones gave me something I wasn’t expecting from it.”

Waddingham, while revealing the lengths the show’s production team had to go to in order to make the scenes look authentic, said the torture scene gave her “chronic claustrophobia”.

Waddingham told Colbert that she was “actually waterboarded” for 10 hours and claimed she was not permitted to have a strap around her neck loosened as “it would be too obvious it was loose” to viewers watching at home.

“So I’m strapped to a table with all these leather straps and I couldn’t lift up my head because they said that was going to be too obvious it’s loose and I was like, ‘Right, I’d quite like it to be loose,’” she said, adding: “I couldn’t speak because The Mountain had his hand over my mouth while I was screaming and I had scratch marks everywhere like I’d been attacked.”

However, Waddingham said the dire experience “didn’t matter” if you were in Game of Thrones, because “you just wanted to give the best”, said that she had shared her thoughts with showrunners David Benioff and DB Weiss. “I was like, ‘Good job it’s for them’, because it was horrific,” she said.

The actors previously told Collider: “Lena was uncomfortable pouring liquid in my face for that long, and I was beside myself. But in those moments you have to think, do you serve the piece and get on with it or do you chicken out and go, ‘No, this isn’t what I signed up for, blah, blah, blah?’

Hannah Waddingham says she was ‘actually waterboarded’ while filming ‘Game of Thrones’ (HBO)
Hannah Waddingham says she was ‘actually waterboarded’ while filming ‘Game of Thrones’ (HBO)

“I actually went and had a bit of a chat to somebody about it,” she said, “because it’s quite full-on being waterboarded for ten hours, and then only one minute and 30 seconds can be used on camera.”

The Independent has contacted HBO for comment. Waddingham will next be seen in The Fall Guy, a new action film starring Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt.