In "300: Rise of an Empire," Lena Headey returns as Queen Gorgo, the strong-willed and battle-ready Spartan wife of Leonidas (Gerard Butler), who hesitates to team with Greek hero Themistocles and avenge her slain husband in battle against the mighty Persian army.
After catching the eye of a casting director at the age of 17, the Bermuda-born (and England-raised) Headey launched her movie career in 1992. The actress has worked consistently ever since, appearing in films such as, "The Remains of the Day," "Possession," and "The Brothers Grimm." However, it wasn't until Zack Snyder's international hit "300" (2006) that Headey finally broke out in America. Today, the actress may be best known to audiences for playing Cersei Lannister in the current hit HBO series "Game of Thrones."
The show has launched Headey into a new level of stardom, and I'll admit I was a little intimidated. It's not simply because "Game of Thrones" fanboys everywhere want to bow down to her, but rather because she's funny, witty, beautiful, and all kinds of cool. Moviefone sat down with Headey to talk about what attracts her to strong characters like Queen Gorgo and Cersei Lannister, how she deals with testosterone-heavy sets, and everyone's intrigue with her "stupid" Twitter.
Moviefone: You do a good amount of fighting in "300," and you play another strong character, Cersei Lannister, in "Game of Thrones." But Cersei is very cunning and strategic and restrained. In a way, was it cathartic to unleash your frustration in "300"?
Lena Headey: Umm, no. Cersei is really cathartic, really, because she's someone you're really not allowed to be in everyday life [laughs] -- because you'd probably be in prison. "300" was just a good, fun gig for me. I get to throw a sword around and jump back in for a minute.
Besides strong women, are there other types of women you'd like to play?
Well, I think Cersei for me, in particular, encompasses everything that I find interesting about someone and there's so much to come from her. It's like she's a bit of a backwards puzzle and there are pieces, and when she builds, you'll be like, "Ahh, that's why she is who she is." You know what I mean? It's in reverse. Umm, so I find her – on the full spectrum – she kind of possesses everything that is interesting as a human being. And I think that there's never darkness without a bit of light, but we've yet to really see that from her.
Would you ever like to act in a lighter film or comedy? You are funny, after all.
I'd love to do a comedy. Umm, I don't know when that will happen, maybe when I'm like 80 or something. But yeah, I'd love to. I'm just waiting for the right person to see my hilarious nature and offer me a comedy.
You're great on Twitter.
My Twitter's stupid [laughs].
Do you have any Twitter tips?
I would say I've done a few drunk tweets, so don't do that -- they're always regrettable. [Laughs] No, I'm just kidding. Who f**king cares? You know what I mean? The feeling of Twitter, unless you're being in some way political or making a statement, who really gives a sh*t 'cause they're just these tiny words that go out. I find it... there's something fun about it. If you're stuck somewhere, I'm like, "I'll shoot out a tweet." It's kind of stupid and silly and it's a way of connecting with people. I think there's that nice interaction with people who dig what you do and, also, you kind of get involved with a few good things on there.
What's the craziest fan reaction you've ever had?
I was getting breakfast, and this lady come up and she was like, "Oh my God! Can you just wait there? Can you wait there?" and I was like "Uhhhhh, suuurreee" and she came back awhile later, I had already ordered and sat down, and she showed me her whole wedding album. She'd gotten married as Queen Gorgo and her husband had dressed like Leonidas. That was kind of odd.
Did that creep you out at all?
No, I was just like, "That's an interesting choice for your wedding day..." And then Cersei kind of elicits love for bad people, ya know? Which is fun. People are like, "You're such a f**king bitch," or "Can you slap your son for me? I hope he dies," and that type of thing.
Do you think she's an evil character?
No. I think she's incredibly frightened. That's at her core, that's how I see her. She's kind of driven by paranoia and fear. She's complicated.
Were you and Eva Green ever on the set at the same time?
No, I was only there the end of shooting 'cause I'm really a sideliner, umm, although I do talk a lot. But I knocked on Eva's door because I love her as an actress, I think she's just fantastic, and I just had to sort of say hello and be like, "props to you," in the midst of this male madness, holding it together.
You seem like you can hang with the guys.
I'm a guy.
But the set is so testosterone heavy.
It is, but don't forget you're talking about actors [laughs]. Usually more vain than actresses.
You think so?
I know so. There's the myth: I'm going to break it today! There you go.
Why do you think that is?
I mean, I say that with affection by the way. It's just funny because boys, they're boys, you're boys! You're boys. You have an ego, a male ego. It's given to you from birth. I have a boy, I can see it happening, and it's just funny. It's, ya know, it's endearing. When they know they look great in their leather underpants and, you know, they're proud of themselves. I kind of feel like a mom: "Yes, you do. You look great."
Now that you have a young son, what's it like balancing work and motherhood?
It's great. He comes to sort of choice moments with me. He came when I was doing the fight [in "300"] and I could see him going, "My mommy's a ninja." He was so excited, and then he shouted in the middle of a take, "Be gentle ninjas!" He was so upset. Actually, it was "Ninjas, be gentle" because Zack [Snyder] was like, "we should put that on a shirt or something." But it's fun, it's fun. It's tough being away -- that kills me -- but it's how I make my living and it's what I do and I think one day he'll get it. And he comes on adventures and walks onto sets and he's like, "Woahhh." He sat in the Iron Throne and sh*t like that. It's kind of funny.
Looking back at movie and TV history, what are the roles you wish you'd played?
I'd love to have played Joan of Arc. That would have been amazing. Umm, I'd like to play Walter White, but I guess that's been done. We don't need to do that for a good few decades.
There could be a female version.
Right! I think the best female roles are being created now. There seems to be great roles for women and it's not necessarily -- you don't have to be young women. Suddenly, we're realizing that generally women are interesting, and they can also be weird and crazy and mean.
Cersei's is such a gift. There is everything in there to be had. I think times are changing. In something like this, I know we try to intellectualize movies a lot of the time, but this is a big piece of fun with great big characters that people will hopefully enjoy and respond to in that "WOAAHHHH!" type of way.
"300: Rise of an Empire" rides into theaters March 7th.