Actress Lena Headey breaks down playing Cersei Lannister on Game of Thrones in a new interview. With the seventh season of the hit HBO fantasy/drama less than a week away premiering on July 16, the stars inhabiting the surviving characters who are still fighting for power and survival in Westeros have been revealing details about the new season – including, what it’s like working on a massive series like Thrones and their feeling about the inevitable endgame.

One of the more complex characters to grace the screen these past seven years has been Headey’s Cersei Lannister, who last season finally got her revenge by unleashing wildfire on the Sept of Baelor with all her enemies – the High Sparrow and all his little sparrows, a good chunk of the Tyrells including her daughter-in-law Margaery, and her uncle Kevan Lannister – and claiming the iron throne for herself.

Now, in an interview with TIME as part of their cover story on Game of Thrones, Headey talks about playing the cruel queen who garnered some sympathy from viewers after seizing the crown so shortly after the death of her last child Tommen to suicide. Headey, however, has a different perspective on her character:

“I don’t know if I sympathize with her. I admire her.”

It’s an interesting feeling to have towards a character who found joy after burning people alive, but for Headey she loves playing a character like Cersei who has many layers behind her cruel exterior:

“I love playing Cersei. I’m very intrigued to see what happens to her! She’s so layered, endlessly. Every time you think you know her, there’s another depth of insecurity or fury or resentment or drive or grief. George gave David and Dan the map. And David and Dan and Dave and Bryan write great episodes year after year.”

Lena Heady as Queen Cersei on Game of Thrones Game of Thrones: Lena Headey Admires Cersei

Of course not everyone loves Cersei, in fact most people have disliked her from the very beginning because of her manipulative personality. However, Headey has been fighting for the character who has been fighting to survive since day one:

“I’ve always really fought for her, especially early on, because she had seemed just to be a self-serving manipulator. As we’ve grown to know her a bit more, we see that she’s a woman surviving in a really s–tty world desperate to be heard, saying something seven times when a man says it once. I get people saying what a great performance, and that’s obviously a very nice thing to hear. But it’s changed a little bit, because at the beginning, people were like [in American accent] “Oh my God, you’re such a bitch!” What’s moving is that people love her now and want to be on her team.”

Even though Cersei can be manipulative, cruel and sometimes downright evil, there are plenty of fans who are rallying for the new queen and hope that Cersei will find some sort of humanity in corrupting position she now hold over the seven kingdoms. Based on the Game of Thrones season 7 trailers though, we have a feeling it’s going to take some time before Cersei finds the path towards redemption – that is, if she survives to season eight.

NEXT: Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode Titles & Synopses

Game of Thrones season 7 premieres on HBO July 16 at 9 p.m. est.

Source: TIME

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