Meet the ‘Game of Thrones’ Body Double Who Performed Cersei’s Naked Walk of Shame
One of the most harrowing moments of the Season 5 Game of Thrones finale (of which, there were many) was Cersei’s walk of shame as the Queen Mother was forced to walk, naked, through the streets of King’s Landing as punishment for confessing adultery with her cousin, Lancel Lannister. It was a powerful scene, one that sparked immediate appreciation for actress Lena Headey’s performance. But, there’s someone else who should also get some credit: body double Rebecca Van Cleave, who actually performed the walk naked on set.
Headey was pregnant at the time of shooting (and reportedly has a no-nudity clause in her contract), so producers hired Van Cleave, an American actress, as her stand-in. Van Cleave performed the walk in the nude while Headey performed the same scene wearing a tight beige bodysuit. For the wide shots, CGI was used to merge the two performances so that Headey’s head was on Van Cleave’s body, giving viewers the illusion that Cersei herself had been stripped bare.
The actress, who had never performed nude before, broke her silence to Entertainment Weekly, saying:
It was one of the scariest, most wonderful, most gratifying experiences I could have imagined. I never in a million years would have thought I would be in Dubrovnik surrounded by hundreds of extras and crew members throwing food at me, but it was amazing.
Over 1,000 actresses auditioned for the part (!!), but director David Nutter said they chose Van Cleave because, “We needed somebody who could do The Walk of Shame physically, somebody who could match Lena’s integrity, intensity and sensibility.”
Headey would walk alongside the actress for the three-day long shoot, giving her tips as to Cersei’s mindset and thinking at different points of the walk. Van Cleave likened it to a game of “tag” where the two actresses would pass off to each other for different aspects of the performance. Headey said of Van Cleave’s dedication, “It takes a lot to walk through the crowd naked for three days in a row with the crowd braying at you.”
As for her newfound Game of Thrones legacy and what it means for her future as an actress, Van Cleave says, “I hope the next thing I do will have my head in it!”