Lena Headey Earned Her Game of Thrones Salary Drinking Wine in a Room in Belfast

Fifteen days, a room in Belfast, no swords.

Lena Headey
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Last month, much was made of Sophie Turner’s admission that her Game of Thrones costar Kit Harington’s per-episode paycheck is substantially higher than her own. Though she’s a champion of equal pay, she noted that, for the show, it’s “a little tricky,” because of the respective workload for each of the actors. Sure, Harington made more money, but he also “had a bigger storyline. And for the last series, he had something crazy like 70 night shoots, and I didn’t have that many,” she told Harper’s Bazaar in an interview for the magazine’s May cover. “I was like, ‘You know what… you keep that money.’”

In a dream world, though, everyone could just be more like Lena Headey. Headey, who has played Cersei Lannister for the show’s eight-season run, is among the highest-compensated actors in the cast; according to one report, she, Kit Harington, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Emilia Clarke, and Peter Dinklage all make an estimated $500,000 per episode. And, as Headey told British radio host Chris Evans (not Captain America) in a recent interview, her time on the show amounted to “only 15 days of work a year,” much of it spent inside, in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Literally: “I am always in Belfast in a room,” she said. It sounds like sitting on the Iron Throne is a lot less fun than one might expect. She doesn’t even wield a sword (the one thing Gwendoline Christie wished she could take with her from the show); she “just drink[s] wine.” The snow that heralds winter, which is coming, is paper, she revealed; the dragons, green balls on sticks. (Headey herself has not had to interact with a dragon yet, but she knows what “poor Emilia Clarke” is up against.)

So, really, if all this bears out, everyone should aspire to be more like Lena Headey: Know your worth, get paid the most to do a half a month of work. The Game of Thrones team has paid a high price for Headey’s loyalty: At least so far, on this all-out press run for the series’ final season, she has yet to very publicly spoil the ending, or even admit to spoiling it. Unlike Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who recklessly told Busy Philipps what’s going down, or Sophie Turner, who is very bad at keeping secrets.