‘Game of Thrones’: Did Lena Headey Really Film Cersei Lannister’s Walk of Atonement in Season 6?

One of the reasons why Game of Thrones has been so popular around the world has been the epic or shocking moments that happen in the show. These moments are great for a lot of reasons, but one of them usually has to do with how difficult it was to actually film those scenes.

With that said, Game of Thrones used plenty of Hollywood magic to shoot its scenes. This applies to scenes that are obviously fake, such as any scene with a dragon, but also to a few scenes that fans may not think was faked. Here’s a look at how Lena Headey didn’t actually walk around naked during her Walk of Atonement scene.

Why Cersei Lannister needed to be shamed in the first place

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Game of Thrones is many things, and one thing it does really well is politics. Cersei Lannister, played by Headey, is a power-hungry woman who, like her father, will do anything to get a Lannister on the throne.

Along the way, she does a lot of scheming in order to secure her family’s place in the world. Due to those schemes, as well as her moody personality, she quickly became one of the main villains of the show. But, after one of her schemes backfired on her, she got thrown in jail by the High Sparrow, who’s basically the Pope in the show.

After a few episodes of torture, she realizes that she can’t escape from jail, and the only way out is if she confesses to her sins. She confesses, but before she can go free, she must do the Walk of Atonement. 

The Walk of Atonement

Cersei walk of Shame Game of Thrones
Lena Headey | HBO

Like other big, epic scenes in the show, the Walk of Atonement is supposed to be a pivotal moment in Cersei’s life. The Walk of Atonement was basically a walk through the capital city where the person who is atoning is naked. Along the way, everyone in the city can do pretty much what they want to the person who’s atoning.

This walk is obviously humiliating, but it’s extra humiliating since Cersei is an upper-class woman who was the queen for years. She’s been in tough spots before, but she’s never been through anything like this. After this walk, Cersei’s personality changes, and she becomes an even bigger villain than before. 

So, there lies the issue. This scene is very important to Cersei as a character, so obviously, Headey’s acting chops are necessary for the scene. However, this scene is also long and uncomfortable, as it requires Cersei to be naked and showered with food and other unsavory stuff. That’s why the show ended up using Hollywood magic instead.

How they filmed the scene

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Mental Floss reports that Rebecca Van Cleave was the actual actress who did the Walk of Atonement while being naked. Van Cleave beat out 1,000 other actresses who wanted to be Cersei’s body double.

Headey actually also did the Walk of Atonement, but she was fully clothed. After they filmed both of those walks, the CGI teams stitched Headey’s face onto Van Cleave’s body. This gave the illusion that Headey was naked while doing the walk when in reality, she wasn’t.

This type of CGI magic isn’t uncommon, either. The best kind of CGi is the kind of CGI that nobody notices, and for the most part, nobody noticed the fact that Headey wasn’t actually nude during her walk. This powerful magic trick allowed the audience to get sucked into Cersei’s headspace at the time of her walk since nobody was distracted by the fact that the show was using a lot of CGI magic to make that scene happen.