Hannah Waddingham Says ‘Horrific’ Waterboarding on ‘Game of Thrones’ Led to ‘Chronic Claustrophobia’: ‘I Wasn’t Expecting’ That

Hannah Waddingham revealed on “The Late Show” that she’s had “chronic claustrophobia” ever since filming that “horrific” waterboarding scene for “Game of Thrones.” The “Ted Lasso” Emmy winner starred in the seres as Unella, one of the Septa of the Faith of the Seven who brutally tortures Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey). When Cersei regains her power, she turns the tables by imprisoning and punishing Unella.

“‘Thrones’ gave me something I wasn’t expecting from it, which was chronic claustrophobia,” Waddingham said. “It was horrific. Ten hours of being actually waterboarded. Like actually. I’m strapped to a table with all these leather straps. I couldn’t lift up my head because I said that would be too obvious that it’s loose.”

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“I’m on my way back [from set] with grape juice all in my hair so it went purple, I couldn’t speak because the Mountain had his hand over my mouth while I was screaming and I had strap marks everywhere like I had been attacked,” she continued. “One of the other guys who had been shooting something else was like, ‘You’re lucky, I’ve just been crawling through shit on my elbow for four days.’ It kind of doesn’t matter when you’re in ‘Thrones.’ You just want to give the best.”

Waddingham first revealed she was waterboarded for real on the “Thrones” set during a 2021 interview with Collider. The actor said at the time that filming the scene was second only to childbirth as the worst day of her life.

“I was strapped to a wooden table with proper big straps for 10 hours,” she said. “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?’”

According to Waddingham, she “could barely speak” after the day of filming because she “had been screaming through The Mountain’s hand, which is quite frightening as a singer to completely lose your voice. I had no voice at all.”

Lena Headey later discussed filming the scene in an interview with Entertainment Weekly and remembered how “horrendous” it was for Waddingham.

“Someone else asked me about that the other day and I was like, you know, as an actor we all have boundaries or no boundaries,” Headey said. “And no boundaries are obviously very thrilling when you can go to a place… but something like that when you’re tied down [during filming for 10 hours], it made me feel horrendous doing that scene with you.”

Watch Waddingham’s latest appearance on “The Late Show” in the video below.

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