The Surprising Story Of How Hannah Waddingham's 'Shame Nun' Performance Led To Her Ted Lasso Role

Long before Ted Lasso came calling, Hannah was best known to many for her fearsome role in Game Of Thrones.
Hannah Waddingham at a SAG-Aftra event earlier this month
Hannah Waddingham at a SAG-Aftra event earlier this month
Arturo Holmes via Getty Images

Of all the roles that might have influenced Hannah Waddingham’s casting in Ted Lasso, we would not have put our money on her brief-but-memorable Game Of Thrones character.

The British actor and all-round national treasure played Rebecca Welton, owner of the AFC Richmond football club, in all three seasons of Ted Lasso.

But before landing her Emmy-winning role in the feel-good comedy, fans of Game Of Thrones will remember Hannah as Septa Unella, perhaps better known as the “shame nun” in season five of the US fantasy series.

Hannah’s character was introduced as a member of the Faith of the Seven clergy, a devout follower of the High Sparrow (played by Jonathan Pryce).

Hannah showed off a very different side of herself in Game Of Thrones
Hannah showed off a very different side of herself in Game Of Thrones

And although she wasn’t on the show for long, she took centre stage in an unforgettable scene which depicts Cersei (Lena Headey) doing a naked walk of atonement through the city, with Septa Unella ringing a bell and yelling “shame!” behind her.

Hannah’s performance impressed Game Of Thrones creators David Benioff and D. B. Weiss so much that, believe it or not, it was what led to her bagging her role in Ted Lasso.

During a recent interview with the Today show, Hannah recalled: “I got David Benioff and Dan Weiss to write an email to the powers that be. The subject was, ‘What are we even discussing here?’. It was such a beautiful, quiet, genuine endorsement of, ‘Let the girl play.’”

Hannah Waddingham in Ted Lasso
Hannah Waddingham in Ted Lasso

While her Game Of Thrones stint may have helped land one of her biggest roles to date, the actor has previously opened up about the challenges of filming another crucial moment in character as Septa Unella.

One scene saw her character being “actually waterboarded” – which she previously described as the “worst day of my life”.

Opening up about filming the scene on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Hannah explained: “[Game Of Thrones] gave me something that I wasn’t expecting from it, and that’s chronic claustrophobia.

“I’ve talked about it since with David Benioff and Dan Weiss, the two executive producers on it, I was like, ‘good job it’s for them’, because it was horrific. Ten hours of being actually waterboarded. Like, actually waterboarded.”


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