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English born actress Lena Headey got her start in show business at an early age. After being scouted at only 17 years old, Headey worked steadily as an actress in small and supporting roles in films throughout the 1990s including landing a supporting role in the drama Waterland, in which she had the opportunity to work with actors who had been in the business several years before her. From there she landed a small role in the lauded The Remains of the Day, which came out in 1993 and received eight Academy Awards nominations.
She played Katherine in Disney’s The Jungle Book, released in 1994. The film had positive reviews and earned nearly $44 million in the United States. After a number of film roles, she appeared opposite Vanessa Redgrave in the 1997 romantic drama Mrs Dalloway. Headey landed a supporting role in a higher-profile film titled Onegin, which starred Ralph Fiennes and Liv Tyler. The following year, she had the starring role in the drama Aberdeen. Headey received several good reviews for her performance in the film. She also had roles in 2000’s Gossip and 2001’s The Parole Officer.
She received the Silver Iris Award for Best Actress at the 2001 Brussels European Film Festival for her role in Aberdeen. In 2002, she had a role in the mystery drama Possession alongside Gwyneth Paltrow and Aaron Eckhart.
Headey co-starred with Matt Damon and Heath Ledger in Terry Gilliam’s The Brothers Grimm, which was released in August 2005. The film received mixed reviews. In an interview Headey spoke about her character in the film: “I loved the fact that she was a tomboy. That is what attracted me to her, that she wasn’t this predictable female character in this big film. You meet her and she is masking who she is. I loved that her environment dictated who she is. She lives and grows up and survives in the forest. Terry and I talked about how her instincts are almost animalistic and she can see 360 degrees around her. She is aware of what is going on. That is how she is grounded. She is of the earth”.
The romantic comedy-drama Imagine Me & You received a limited release and earned positive reviews. Critics praised Headey’s performance as a lesbian in the film; Mick LaSalle from the San Francisco Chronicle stated that the actress “has a forthright, irresistible appeal and a face and especially a smile that suggest intelligence, integrity and lots of fun”.
In 2007, Headey starred as Queen Gorgo in Zack Snyder’s wildly popular adaptation of Frank Miller’s 300. In addition to her film work, Headey starred in Fox’s Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, a television spin-off of James Cameron’s popular Terminator franchise. Headey played Sarah Connor from January 2008 to April 2009. The show ran for 31 episodes in two seasons until its cancellation in May 2009. She was nominated twice for the Saturn Award for Best Actress on Television for the role.
In 2008, Headey starred in the horror film The Broken. The film was directed by Academy Award-nominated Sean Ellis. The film was about “a woman who suspects she’s being followed around London by a murderous doppelganger”. The Broken was screened at the midnight portion of the 2008 Sundance Film Festival, and generally got average reviews. Some critics praised Headey’s performance, including Kim Koynar of Cinematical who wrote that Headey “largely carries the film, and does so quite ably”.
Since its premiere in April 2011, Headey has portrayed queen regent Cersei Lannister on the HBO series Game of Thrones, based on George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series of novels. Her performance has received critical acclaim. In 2011, she was nominated for a Scream Award in the category of Best Fantasy Actress for the role. Headey was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for portraying Cersei in 2014 and 2015.
Headey made a guest appearance in the television show White Collar in the episode “Taking Account” in which she played the role of Sally. In 2012, she appeared in the 3D action science-fiction film Dredd alongside Karl Urban and Olivia Thirlby. Her character is Madeline Madrigal (Ma-Ma), the leader of a drug dealing gang, and the project’s primary villain. Dredd is a film adaptation of 2000 AD character Judge Dredd. The film was directed by Pete Travis with a script by Alex Garland. In May and June 2012, Lena filmed the fantasy adventure movie The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box throughout South West England, playing the role of Monica. The film was released in 2014.
She re-teamed with Ethan Hawke to co-star in The Purge, a ‘micro-budget’ horror film, which opened on 7 June 2013 at number one position in the United States, grossing over $US36 million over the weekend.
In July 2015, Headey voiced the character Jeopardy Mouse in Danger Mouse, a reboot of the 1981 TV series of the same name, which was broadcast on CBBC in late 2015. Headey stated that “I wanted to do it because it was pure nostalgia for me. I have children now and it’s just a treat to be involved in something that you loved as a kid and be able to share it. Those moments as an actor that come along once in while are not to be missed.”
In 2016, Headey co-starred in the horror film Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, opposite her former Game of Thrones co-star Charles Dance and can be seen in this year’s upcoming season of Game of Thrones.