The most shocking moment in the Game of Thrones season five finale? Jon Snow’s (Kit Harington) assassination. Duh. But the most brutal and disturbing moment came long before the credits rolled: Cersei Lannister’s (Lena Headey) horrifying walk of shame.
The Queen Mother was forced by the High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce) and his religious cult to “atone” for her sins of incest and adultery by walking naked through all of King’s Landing, including the worst parts of the city, while an angry mob shouted profanities and threw food, sewage and other offensive liquids on her. By the time she arrived home to the Red Keep, she was covered in so much filth, bleeding from her feet and head, and in tears…something we’d never thought we’d see from Cersei.
But it turns out that Headey isn’t the only actress who gave a raw and brave performance while filming those tense scenes. She had a body double for the entire process!
Meet actress Rebecca Van Cleave, who worked closely with Headey during the three days it took to shoot the now-infamous naked walk of shame. According toEW, who spoke with Van Cleave on set, she performed the scene completely naked while Headey wore a beige shift during filming in Dubrovnik last October. CGI was used later to combine the two shots, putting Headey’s face on Van Cleave’s body.
“It was one of the scariest, most wonderful, most gratifying experiences I could have imagined,” Van Cleave tells the magazine. “I never in a million years would have thought I would be in Dubrovnik surrounded by hundreds of extras and crew members throwing food at me, but it was amazing.”
As for why Headey used a body double for the scene, there are “several reasons,” according to the actress. First, she was pregnant at the time. Second, she wanted to focus on the emotions in the scene, rather than her nudity. “If somebody is brave enough to do this, I applaud it,” Headey tells the magazine.