Not My Job: We Quiz Lena Headey On Games Worse Than 'Game Of Thrones'
PETER SAGAL, HOST:
And now the game where we invite on people we like and make them answer questions about things they know nothing about. "Game Of Thrones" is the most popular TV show on the planet, despite having an incredibly complicated plot and also a habit of killing off major characters. But still surviving after six seasons is the manipulative, scheming Queen Cersei Lannister. She's played by the very nice actress Lena Headey. She joins us now. Lena, welcome to WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.
LENA HEADEY: Thank you.
SAGAL: Now, I know the cliche that you are but an actor. You are not the parts that you play, yet at the prospect of speaking to you, I was actually terrified. Does this happen to you a lot?
HEADEY: Yeah, it does seem to. People do seem to think that I'm going to be some wicked witch, and then they're always surprised to find out I'm just a little clumsy nerd.
SAGAL: Really? Do you enjoy playing somebody who is so pointedly not cheerful and happy?
HEADEY: Yeah, it's cathartic because I guess, you know, it's not socially acceptable to be a complete and utter manipulative cow. So I can get it all out...
SAGAL: I guess so. I feel that both for people who haven't seen "Game Of Thrones," and I pity them, or for people who have seen it and can't keep the names straight, could briefly describe who your character is?
HEADEY: She is the power-hungry mother of three children by her brother, desperate to sit on the throne and run the seven kingdoms.
HEADEY: And she's not a very nice girl.
SAGAL: No, she's not.
SAGAL: And so for six seasons, we've basically seen her manipulate, lie, lure people to their deaths and do various unpleasant things.
HEADEY: Yeah, she's had a few rough days.
SAGAL: I understand.
SAGAL: Because the people on the show, the characters, are so incredibly unpleasant and are constantly doing very unpleasant things to each other, I imagine your cast parties are, like, blowout fun because you must have to, like, let off all the steam of being horrible to each other.
HEADEY: There's a lot of Olympic drinking, yes.
SAGAL: Now, you have played a lot of very - I will - for lack of a better word - nerdy roles. You were in the big classic nerdy Greek combat movie "300" as the...
SAGAL: ...Sexy Queen Gorgo. So the nerds must freak out when they see you on the street.
HEADEY: Yep, I get a bit of nerd love.
SAGAL: You do?
SAGAL: What is nerd love like?
HEADEY: Loud. And...
SAGAL: Did you - I have to ask you this question - you, like a lot of the actors on "Game Of Thrones, did not read the books, right?
SAGAL: And is that because you didn't want to find out what happened to your character in another medium or they're just a ridiculous nerd thing and you would never go near such a thing?
HEADEY: Both of those things.
HEADEY: I did try. My mother read them all obsessively. And so I get the kind of shortened versions.
SAGAL: So wait a minute, your mother has read all of George R. R. Martin's novels.
HEADEY: Yeah, she loves to go oh, I know what happens to you next.
SAGAL: I have to ask you, your character, Queen Cersei, was forced by circumstances that are way too interesting to get into, to walk naked in a walk of shame, as somebody's...
SAGAL: ...Yelling shame through the entire town. That was a very long sequence. Now, first of all, did you actually have to do that?
HEADEY: Yes, I was actually there, contrary to popular belief, in the place doing the whole thing. But I was not naked though.
SAGAL: You were not naked?
HEADEY: Not my body.
SAGAL: That was not - really? Did they do the computer thing where they gave you somebody else's body?
HEADEY: They did, yes.
SAGAL: Did you get to pick whose body it was?
SAGAL: Because given the opportunity, I would really enjoy to have some - my head put on somebody else's body.
HEADEY: You'd think, but I - you know what? I was just like if somebody is brave enough to do this with me, then I don't care what they look like.
HEADEY: I really don't.
SAGAL: There was one guy in that sequence who leaps out and exposes himself to your character. And all I could think of with that guy was like hey everybody, I got a part in "Game Of Thrones."
SAGAL: It's going to make me.
HEADEY: I know because, you know, we all sat around for, like, three days sort of tag-teaming on and off that set. And he was there; we were sort of having coffee. And I was like so, what are you - what are you doing? He was like oh, I'm flashing my willy at you.
SAGAL: So what's interesting is for people that may not know, the series is based on this very lengthy complicated series of books. But last season, season six, they caught up with the end of the books. So nobody knows what's happening next except you, Lena Headey...
SAGAL: ...Because the production has been finished, right? It's going to be broadcast in a couple of months. So what are the secrecy rules? I mean, what do they tell you about what you can and cannot say?
HEADEY: I can't tell you a thing.
SAGAL: You cannot tell me a thing.
SAGAL: If you were to tell me something, what would happen to you?
HEADEY: It's more what would happen to you.
HELEN HONG: Somebody would jump out and flash their willy at you for sure.
SAGAL: Oh, no.
SAGAL: Lena Headey, we have asked you hear to play a game we're calling...
BILL KURTIS: You Win And You Die.
SAGAL: So the "Game Of Thrones" in the show you star in is not particularly fun to play...
SAGAL: ...Ask Ned Stark. So we thought we'd ask you about three even worse games. Answer two of them correctly, you'll win our prize for one of our listeners - Carl Kassel's voice on their voicemail. Bill, who is actress Lena Headey playing for?
HEADEY: Chris Shields of Beaverton, Ore.
SAGAL: All right, you ready to play, Lena?
HEADEY: Yes, I'm ready.
SAGAL: All right, now, which of these is a real board game that you could go out, buy and play with your family today if you wanted to? Is it A, Swedish Parliament in which you and your friends recreate the Swedish national elections around your dining room table, B, "Family Time" in which you play a member of a family trying to decide something to do that will keep you from fighting tonight or C, Mule in which you try to smuggle as many drugs across the border using your own body cavities as possible.
ROY BLOUNT, JR.: Ooh.
HEADEY: God, one of them sounds more interesting, but I'm going to go for the second one, the family thing - the non-fighting.
SAGAL: So a game called Family Time...
SAGAL: ...In which you and your family gather around and play the roles of a family trying to decide to figure out what to do...
SAGAL: ...Of an evening. So that's your choice, you're going to go for Family Time?
HEADEY: I am, yes.
SAGAL: All right. I'm afraid it was Swedish Parliament. That is an actual game that you can buy. It was listed as one of the 10-worst board games ever made by a British newspaper, The Guardian. And then they published an apology because all these fans of "Swedish Parliament" wrote in and said, you know, it's really quite interesting.
SAGAL: All right, in 2013, a designer created a new iPhone game that quickly got banned from the App Store. Was it which of these - A, Send Me To Heaven, which challenges you to throw your phone as high as you can into the air...
SAGAL: ...B, Big Jerk - the object of that game is to walk by as many people as you can while staring at your phone or C, Drug Mule which is an iPhone version of the board game I mentioned in the previous question.
HEADEY: I - I'm going to go for the second one.
SAGAL: You're going to go for Big Jerk?
SAGAL: You're going to go for that?
HEADEY: I feel very solid in my answer.
SAGAL: I - I - no. No, I'm afraid the game was Send - (laughter) - the game was Send Me To Heaven. And it was invented by a guy who just wanted to see how many people he could trick into wrecking their iPhones by hurling them as high as they could into the air.
SAGAL: And really, the comments on the game in, like, the app store were I broke my phone.
SAGAL: All right, let's see if you can get one right. The 1960s were a golden age of board games. One of the less-successful games from that era is which of these - A, Digestion Monopoly, which is like regular monopoly except after you choose your piece you swallow it.
SAGAL: Whoever gets their's back first wins.
SAGAL: B - B, I say, Connect Two or C, a board game called Big Funeral. You play by planning a funeral.
HEADEY: Oh, I don't want to get it wrong. But I know, I am going to say the funeral game.
SAGAL: The funeral game - you're right, it is in fact the funeral game...
(SOUNDBITE OF BELL, APPLAUSE)
SAGAL: ...Big Funeral. Bill, how did Lena Headey do on our quiz?
KURTIS: Lena got one right out three. And, you know, Lena, that's really good.
SAGAL: I see you've also watched the show. Hedge your bets, Bill.
KURTIS: I don't want on her bad side.
SAGAL: Hedge your bets with this woman. Lena Headey stars in "Pride And Prejudice And Zombies," based on the original draft of the Austen novel. It's in theaters now, and you can see her in the new season of HBO's "Game Of Thrones." That premieres in April. I am lining up in front of my television now. Lena Headey, thank you so much for joining us.
HEADEY: Thank you, guys.
SAGAL: Thank you, Lena.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "KILLER QUEEN")
QUEEN: (Singing) She's a killer queen. Gunpowder, gelatine, dynamite with a laser beam. Guaranteed to blow your mind...
SAGAL: In just a minute, Bill says words, some of which rhyme. It's our Listener Limerick Challenge. Call 1-888-WAIT-WAIT to join us on the air. We'll be back in a minute with more WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME from NPR.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.