Game of Thrones’ Lena Headey Says She Lost Roles by Not Flirting with Directors

Ahead of the anxiously-awaited return of HBO‘s hit fantasy series Game of Thrones, one of the series’ most iconic stars has spoken out against the sexist and objectifying practices she’s encountered during her time in Hollywood. Speaking to British fashion magazine The Edit, Lena Headey describes how casting directors have made sexually explicit remarks to her during auditions throughout her career. Headey, best known for her roles as Cersei Lannister on Game of Thrones and Queen Gorgo in 300, told her interviewer that Hollywood casting directors often choose female cast member based solely on their sex appeal as opposed to acting talent:

There’s a real pressure on women to be beautiful and skinny. When I was in my twenties and doing a lot of audition tapes in the States, a casting director told me: ‘The men take these tapes home and watch them and say, ‘Who would you f—?’ I’ve never played the game of going in [to auditions] and flirting; I’ve never done it and I’m very happy I didn’t.

When asked if she thought not flirting with directors ever cost her a job, Headey stated, “Yes, and I’m very happy I didn’t.”

Throughout the interview, Headey describes the difficulties women in Hollywood still face daily on and off the set. Headey recalls having to perform in front of cameras shortly after giving birth to her son prior to filming season one of Game of Thrones while she was experiencing postpartum depression, citing how “tricky” it was to play a mother on set while also figuring out her own role as a mother off-camera.

Headey’s role on Game of Thrones has earned her several industry awards, as well as nominations for Primetime Emmy Awards and Screen Actors Guild Awards. Her performance as the scheming queen Cersei has been one of the highlights of the award-winning series throughout its seven-year run. Her ‘walk of shame’ sequence in season six has since become somewhat of a cultural meme.

Season seven of Game of Thrones premieres July 16 on HBO.

40 Comments on "Game of Thrones’ Lena Headey Says She Lost Roles by Not Flirting with Directors"

  1. To be fair, the ‘walk of shame’ scene was her face superimposed on Rebecca Van Cleave

  2. I LOOOOVE Lena Headey! I because a huge fan of hers watching Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles – an amazing and underrated show that shouldn’t have been cancelled!

  3. Aren’t we sick and tired of women in entertainment b*tching and moaning about objectification while laughing all the way to the bank?

    • Netprincess | July 7, 2017 at 3:31 pm | Reply

      No, but I am sick of people trying to be edgy in posts. ( or are they just stupid, jealous and hateful?)

    • Ah, yes, all those 18 and 19 year-old girls being preyed upon by sickos. Those b*tches!

    • A ChigoorBtch | July 8, 2017 at 12:28 am | Reply

      Or maybe she was actually affected by the attitudes of these directors, and now that she’s famous people will listen and be like “well shit! That director sure is a big p.o.s!” ..much like yourself.

  4. Archibald Leach | July 7, 2017 at 2:30 pm | Reply

    That’s nice. I used to work high end jewelry sales and flirting with old, rich white women was part of the job, and necessary to get the sale in many cases. Does this mean I was sexually harassed or demeaned? Of course not, and not just because I am male, but because I understand that building personal relationships is vital for any career, and flirting can help with that in the right circumstances. Please note, this actress isn’t talking about sex or the “casting couch”, it’s just “flirting”. She can feel oppressed all she likes, but its nonsense.

    • “Does this mean I was sexually harassed or demeaned?” Yes, and the fact that you fail to recognize that does not mean that you get to decide how other people interpret their own experiences.

      You’re admitting to prostituting yourself a little bit in order to make a buck. That is both embarrassing and demeaning. Perhaps you don’t have the self-esteem to see that, but I can assure that many other people do.

      • John Raymond Osborne | July 9, 2017 at 3:11 am | Reply

        I’ve never been on this site before now… But I feel like I had to leave a comment here…

        “Yes, and the fact that you fail to recognize that does not mean that you get to decide how other people interpret their own experiences.”
        No. No it doesn’t. You’re also accusin’ her of what you’re preachin’, dude.

        She’s not prostitutin’ herself. Leave her alone and stop treatin’ others like crap for choosin’ whatever they want to do.

      • John Raymond Osborne | July 9, 2017 at 3:14 am | Reply

        I’ve never been on this site before now… But I feel like I had to leave a comment here…

        “Yes, and the fact that you fail to recognize that does not mean that you get to decide how other people interpret their own experiences.”
        No. No it doesn’t. You’re also accusin’ him of what you’re preachin’, dude.

        He’s not prostitutin’ herself. Leave ’em alone and stop treatin’ others like crap for choosin’ whatever they want to do.

    • She’s not talking about flirting with customers to get sales (which isn’t “required” to get sales anyways, if you are a salesman worth your salt), she’s talking about flirting with casting directors who make the decision to hire her. The casting director holds all the power. The situations are not analogous. This is basic sexual harassment stuff.

      • The situations are very analogous for this discussion. Both equate to success in her career, and both the customer and the casting director have power in that regard. I’m in retail and I agree completely with the OP. This is just basic social skills that you learn: laughing and being friendly with customers often skirts the border of flirtation. Whats the alternative, being completely straight faced and stony with your potential employer / clients? What a silly way of viewing things. This is a non-issue that only people who don’t understand how the world works would complain about.

  5. This basically means that Cercei dies season 7, why else would she wait to spill the beans?

    Thanks for the spoilers, also I’m sure she’s just pissed she didn’t get the money she rly wanted out of the series, typical actress/actor stuff.

    • Dude, this article is her talking about her entire experience as an actor, Not just for her time spent as Cercei in Game of Thrones. Seems like she was generally trying to share her past experiences so others can learn from it as she did.

  6. That’s every job in every field. That’s just life.

    • Uh, where have you worked? I’ve never had to flirt to get ahead. I’ve only ever had to do my job well.

  7. Some construction worker | July 7, 2017 at 2:55 pm | Reply

    Holy shit, these comments are horrendous.

    • Brett Tingley | July 7, 2017 at 3:04 pm | Reply

      Yeah…

      • Yeah, most of these comments either completely miss the point or are just plain misogynistic. Sorry you guys have to deal with this crap in the comments, and thanks for the article!

        • SJWs are annoying | July 7, 2017 at 3:30 pm | Reply

          That’s kind of idiotic to say.

          “Misogyny” is a nonsense accusation here. No industry, no field, nowhere is it untrue that building a relationship, or some chemistry, or whatever won’t help you. Nor is it true anywhere that there aren’t crude people in all fields. That’s just life.

          She’s not saying she was asked to bend over the casting couch at an audition. She’s saying “The reason, and I know the reason, that I lost some random job is because I didn’t flirt.” Well, no, she doesn’t know that. She assumes it.

          These people aren’t saying “It’s totally acceptable for someone to be crude in the workplace.” They’re saying that’s just reality and everyone has to deal with it.

          Her claims are totally unproven. She can’t know why she didn’t get a gig unless they told her outright. And I’d be willing to bet that even if we assume some scummy folks are in play and they totally would be willing to act that way they didn’t TELL her that’s why she lost the role. So she’s assuming.

          Just because you’ve got some annoying feminist agenda doesn’t mean you get to leave reason at the door. This is the nature of life sometimes. Everyone deals with it, and you not liking it doesn’t mean anything other than you’re raging about something you won’t change. There will always be less than principled people in the world. Get used to it and quit complaining.

          • arseholes are annoying | July 7, 2017 at 4:06 pm |

            No, no, please dismiss her experiences over decades in an industry I can only assume you don’t work in so that you can explain to us why she’s wrong and women should just suck it up, because it wasn’t even that bad. Right?

          • I’m going to go out on a limb and guess you are a white guy. In such case, why would you think you have any idea what you are talking about? Being charming and being objectified are two extremely different things that have little to no relation to each other.

          • SJWs are annoying | July 7, 2017 at 4:32 pm |

            Dismissing her “experience” – When you say that you mean her baseless assumption about the motivations of others. She’s assuming that’s the reason. She may be wrong. Just because she FEELS that’s why a random director, producer, whoever did something doesn’t mean it’s true.

            People often seek excuses for their failures. It’s much easier to pass the blame to another or see an unfair system (even if it doesn’t exist) than to take responsibility for it and adjust. It doesn’t mean she’s a bad actress. It just means she’s kind of immature in her thinking.

            The “White Guy” dismissal – The best sign of someone incapable of beating an argument is their attempt to disqualify what was said based on immutable characteristics like skin color or sex. If your arguments are so bad you can’t beat mine by engaging with the points that says way more about you than me.

            Also, kinda makes you racist and sexist.

          • You’re right, one person’s story is anecdotal. Here is some science that backs up her statements. https://www.glamour.com/story/geena-davis-institute-study-sexism-advertisements

            Interesting that you went immediately to “racist and sexist” when I asked if you were a white guy. Others might look at is as “being correct”.

          • SJWs are annoying | July 7, 2017 at 4:52 pm |

            I was accurate in calling you a racist and sexist.

            You tried to treat me differently (disqualifying me from the conversation because “You can’t understand her experience so you should shut up” where you’d accept it from a black muslim woman or something) simply based on sex and skin color. That’s racism and sexism. By definition.

            Just because you don’t like being called what you are, a racist and sexist, doesn’t make it untrue. It just makes you dishonest.

            As for your study, this is a standard SJW failing. Learn to analyze statistics. A statistic is not an argument it’s just a data point. Correlation doesn’t equal causation.

            Perfect example – Black people are often cited as “over-represented” in prison populations. And if you look at just one one set of data – Percentage of black people in the US vs percentage of black people making up the prison population – that’s true. BUT. It’s also true that men make up 90-ish percent of the prison population. Does that mean there’s rampant sexism in the prison and court systems? Most people of your belief system would say no. That men just commit more crimes so they end up there more often. And that’s true in the other scenario as well. Not due to race, mostly due to economic conditions.

            See, here’s the thing. If you want to form a GOOD argument instead of using the weak stuff you’re used to you have to take data points and THEN you LOOK for causal links. That means you actually have to draw a line between x and y to prove that one is causing the other. They haven’t done that in this study, nor do they do it in most SJW driven studies. They gather data and leap to a conclusion and state it as fact. As they did in your link.

            That’s a much more respectful answer than you deserve for linking to glamour.com for a scientific study.

          • not an sjw | July 7, 2017 at 8:53 pm |

            lord have mercy on the rekt sjw who dared argue with u lol

          • The directors are not the one initiating it flirts.
            If she did not get job it was not because she did not flirt. It was because someone else flirted or was a better suit for the movie (cost and/or talent).

  8. All this says is flirting works, it’s one thing to say it was expected of her. But from this quote all that can be read is she choice not to use one of the tools available to good looking people.

    Cue the outrage.

  9. Ingemar Smith | July 7, 2017 at 4:24 pm | Reply

    White guys are at the top of the totem pole in the global hierarchy. This wave of attention to gender bias, sexism, misogyny is essentially white women attempting to broker with white men for more power for themselves. This isn’t so much about justice as it is about white women jockeying for parity within global white supremacy.

    And yes, I’m fairly certain that everything Lena is exposing is 100% true. And other women as well. The discussion shouldn’t be about whether or not this is happening. It is. The issue is what to do.

    • SJWs are annoying | July 7, 2017 at 4:35 pm | Reply

      Oh good lord. You talk about racism and sexism in this post while you demonize men and white people.

      You are a racist and sexist by definition. Please learn to see this.

      Also, she has provided no evidence of her accusation. That’s important.

      Are there scummy people out there though? No doubt. I guarantee some actress has experienced this. Actors too. But focus on the individual. Not some sort of marxist butchering where you create tribes of people, label them victim and villain, and try to drive one tribe into conflict with another.

      It’s all textbook (dictionary definition, not that made up SJW version where you can’t be racist to certain races) racism and sexism.

  10. I hope all these comments are just trolls

  11. The real bummer for me here was finding out that it was not her in the walk woooooot

    I was positive George RR Martin wrote that sequence just to see her puss

    I guess I can get back to fantasize about her now hmm…

  12. Provocateur | July 7, 2017 at 4:59 pm | Reply

    I think I have an inkling why people are annoyed;

    1) Millionaire complaining

    Doesn’t matter if she’s a women, a man, trans-wo/man, it’s a millionaire who’s privileged complaining about something as minor as flirting…

    Which is a bit harsh because it is wrong still, but hey, a lot of other worse shit wrong why expect sympathy?

    • SJWs are annoying | July 7, 2017 at 5:04 pm | Reply

      Well, it’s also that it’s made up.

      Unless they TOLD her that’s WHY she lost a job (and we all know they didn’t) then she’s just assuming. That assumption MIGHT be true, but it might also be false. She’s talking out her rear.

    • Why is it wrong? Open your eyes guys and stop looking for reasons to be offended. Let me break it down: If someone takes the initiative to flirt with you, you’ll naturally think “This person likes me” and you’ll in turn be more inclined to like them, even if it isn’t really sexual in nature / doesn’t lead to anything in that regard. This is basic biology and is not a systemic patriarchal problem, because the same thing happens EVEN IF THE GENDER ROLES ARE REVERSED. As in, even if it’s a female casting director, and I as a male were to walk in, if I flirt with her successfully I will have a higher chance of getting the role. It’s not even flirting, so much as being pleasant and friendly – that often can be interpreted as flirting and the line is blurred, and it’s a valuable tool for any person who navigates social waters – male OR female.

  13. Ayatollah1988 | July 7, 2017 at 5:05 pm | Reply

    Everybody knows that show business is super sleazy. Girls need to know going into it that they are probably competing against countless other aspiring actresses who are willing to sleep with producers and casting directors. By all means, let’s shine a light on the sleaziness and expose it and hopefully get rid of it, but before that happens, don’t be naive. If you aren’t the relative of someone successful in show business, then you might be stuck in obscurity if you’re not a soulless fame whore willing to sleep your way to the top. Something to think about before going into that field.

  14. Either name some names, or shut up.

  15. Sounds like the trolls got a lot of butt hurt lmfao! Jealous much? Pathetic!!🤣🤣🤣🤣

  16. Warren Jones | July 8, 2017 at 2:36 am | Reply

    Good for her she has dignity and very good taste and character.

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