What it was really like to be a ‘Game of Thrones’ body double

Game of Thrones concluded its fifth season last Sunday, and no, the dust still hasn’t settled from it. We’re still going to be talking about it come summer, fall, and winter, too. The two most shocking things in the episode happened during the final act: for one, we saw Jon Snow (MAYBE??) die. And two, we watched Cersei’s long-walk through the streets of Kings Landing absolutely naked.

It’s this last one that’s making the rounds now, and it turns out that the woman behind Queen Mother Cersei wasn’t in fact the woman to make the whole walk. Lena Headey used a body double for the scene. While she walked through the streets wearing a nude body suit, it was actually British actress Rebecca Van Cleave who stripped down for the scene.

The scene was certainly not the first time we’ve seen nudity on Game of Thrones (and oh, it will certainly not be the last), but in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Headey explains that she decided to use a body double for the scene because she wanted to focus on her emotional performance instead. Cue the casting call for a Cersei body-double, and the part eventually went to the 27-year old Van Cleave.

“It was one of the scariest, most wonderful, most gratifying experiences I could ever have imagined,” Van Cleave tells Entertainment Weekly. “I never in a million years would have thought I would be in [shooting location] Dubrovnik surrounded by hundreds of extras and crew members throwing food at me, but it was amazing.”

Through some amazing digital wizardry, both woman actually made the long walk through Kings Landing. The two performances were then meshed together to make one image, so we’re seeing Headey’s face superimposed on Van Cleave’s body. And as Van Cleave explains, Headey was there for her during the walk every step of the way.

“Lena was so good about walking beside me and guiding me into what Cersei was thinking at the movements,” she says, “We were playing tag team — ‘You’re it!’ — and trying to make light of the fact that we’re covered in everything and going through this together.”

During Sunday’s performance Van Cleave finally got to see their combined efforts, saying that, “it was very surreal and emotional, to be honest. I had a good little cry afterwards.” And as for anyone who isn’t cool with the idea that Headey used a body-double in the first place, “Lena put her heart and soul into that scene. It should all be about the finished product, not about whose body was where and whose head was where.”

Van Cleeve, a model who had a part in an episode of The Royals, took to Twitter after the EW article came out to give a shout out to her castmate, tweeting “Thank you @IAMLenaHeadey and @GameOfThrones for letting me ‘walk a mile in Cersei’s shoes.’ On the record…”

And then, she followed that up with: “Big thank you to @JamesHibberd and @EW for the wonderful article. Couldn’t have asked for a better introduction. Hello world.”

Hello Rebecca! We’re hoping your kickass collaboration lands you a speaking role on the next season of GOT. Now back to crying/agonizing over Jon Snow.

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(Images via Twitter and HBO.)

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