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SYFY WIRE Cersei Lannister

Game of Thrones: Lena Headey reveals she wanted a "better death" for Queen Cersei

By Josh Grossberg
Game of Thrones Cersei Lannister

For Lena Headey, when winter finally arrived in Westeros, it was a little underwhelming – at least when it came to Queen Cersei's fate.

A month after HBO's Game of Thrones ended its epic eight-season run, the actress has gone on the record as saying she "wanted a better death" for Cersei Lannister, the character for which she has received heaps of acclaim and who served as the show's ultimate villain as it wrapped up George R.R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire cycle.

As GOT fans know by now, the series' penultimate episode saw Cersei and her twin brother-lover Jaime, played by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, meet a romantic, if tragic (and, as some disappointed viewers will argue, unsatisfactory), end when they were crushed under piles of rubble in the dungeon as the Red Keep collapsed over them during the sacking of King's Landing.

In a new interview with The Guardian, Headey admits that she had some issues with how showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss handled the drama's denouement, but it would take more than a few drinks to get it out of her.

"I invested as a viewer and I have my favorite characters. And I've got a few of my own gripes. But I haven't sat down drunkly with David and Dan yet," she tells the paper.

When asked what she would tell them, she adds: "I will say I wanted a better death."

Considering Headey, 45, has played this strong female character for almost a decade, it's little surprise she's feeling protective, especially since Cersei wasn't given a whole lot to do in the truncated final season. There was tasking Qyburn to order Bronn to kill Jaime and Tyrion, fending off and then finally caving to Euron Greyjoy's advances, ordering the Mountain to behead Missandei in front of Daenerys, and then watching Drogon burn down King's Landing after Dani turns into the "Mad Queen."

Critics note that Cersei spent much of the final season staring out windows reacting to events, as opposed to having more agency. As she told Ned Stark in Season 1, "When you play the Game of Thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground."

It's apparent Headey just wishes Cersei had a few more moves up her sleeve -- as she told EW just after the airing of Cersei's demise, when she acknowledged her initial reaction to reading the script was "mixed."

“I wanted her to have some big piece or fight with somebody,” Headey said at the time.

But she notes she eventually came around to the idea because Cersei and Jaime were going out together, just as they had come into this world.

In any case, in the latest interview, in which she also promoted her new refugee drama The Flood, Headey expressed sympathy for the near-impossible task the show's brain trust had before them.

"Obviously you dream of your death. You could go in any way on that show. So I was kind of gutted,"  she admits to the Guardian. "But I just think they couldn't have pleased everyone. No matter what they did, I think there was going to be some big comedown from the climb."

That said, Headey reveals that most of Game of Thrones' cast, or what she calls "Throners," have been keeping in touch since the end of the seminal series.

"We're all on a giant WhatsApp group, which is a daily pile-on," she reveals. "It's hilarious. You can tell who's been drinking on that one."

But don't assume a little griping means she's in any way let down with how Cersei's storyline was brought to a close.

"It was amazing," notes Headey. "And things end and you move on."

Indeed. At least until HBO premieres the eagerly anticipated Game of Thrones prequel.