Five Favorite Films

Lena Headey's Five Favorite Films

The Game of Thrones star shares her love of British cinema, Cassavetes, and Honey Boy, and opens up about her deeply personal new film, The Flood.

by | April 28, 2020 | Comments

Lena Headey

(Photo by Photo By: JA/Everett Collection)

Almost a year since the world said goodbye to Cersei Lannister, Game of Thrones alum Lena Headey is back on our screens with a much more intimate and personal project. In The Flood, which was released in the U.K. last year, and is available digitally in the U.S. from May 1, Headey plays immigration officer Wendy, whose latest case – an asylum seeker who’s crossed borders and oceans to get from Africa to Britain – poses a challenge to her emotionless, business-as-usual approach to the job.

The movie criss-crosses between Wendy’s interview with asylum seeker Haile (Ivanno Jeremiah) and the latter’s perilous journey to the U.K., focusing in particular on his time in a Calais refugee camp known as “The Jungle”; the movie’s director, Anthony Woodley, as well as its writer and producer, were all volunteers there. Headey, who has worked closely with the International Rescue Committee and visited multiple camps herself, is the film’s executive producer. “You want to be a voice,” she says of her experiences in the camps. “No one’s got any voice. That’s what you find when you go to the camps. Everyone says, ‘Just tell my story.'”

Like the rest of the world, Headey has spent much of the last two months indoors with her kids. “That would be a fine thing,” she says with a chuckle when we ask if she’d like to talk about the films she’s been watching while in quarantine. “I have two children! The chance of watching any adult films would be great. I can tell that I’ve seen The Croods three times – three nights in a row!”. She has some found time to make bread – though her last batch was “s–t,” she jokes about opening a bakery – and to record Instagram videos from her kitchen giving hilarious beauty tips and talking into bananas as if they’re phones.

The “Throners” Watsapp group has been busy, too, with lockdown memes and happy birthdays passing between the former cast members. Her first project when social distancing restrictions ease will see her reunite with one of those Thrones actors. Michelle Fairley, who played Catelyn Stark in the first three seasons of the HBO series, starred in Headey’s acclaimed short, The Trap, which she wrote and directed; Headey plans to direct a full-length feature version as soon as she can.

Below, Headey shares her five favorite films – which she has definitively not had a chance to rewatch lately – and tells us more about The Flood and the revelation that led to her involvement in refugee advocacy.

Trainspotting (1996) 91%

[I saw it] when I was kind of getting into working as an actor in that beautiful moment of British cinema; I just think it was the peak of what we did really well here, with low budgets and sort of dynamic, ferocious films. Kind of ballsy and just sort of out there. It didn’t adhere to any rules of cinema. I just love the energy of that film, the music. I love Danny Boyle‘s work. I think he’s amazing. Yeah, it just spoke to me as a young actor. I was like: That’s the kind of stuff I want to pursue. It just really, really made me proud to be in the industry.

God's Own Country (2017) 98%

It just moves me so much, the relationship between the boys and sort of beautiful bleak countryside and that nugget of joy that they found. I loved it, I loved it.

Honey Boy (2019) 94%

Honey Boy, for me, was another sort of moment of like, “F—k!”. I came out of the cinema, I was like that was just… everything about that film was gorgeous. That scene between Noah Jupe and FKA Twigs – you know that sort of moment when they’re in the room? In someone else’s hands [besides director Alma Har’el], it would have been a very difficult thing, I think, but that tenderness made me weep from a place that I don’t think I felt before watching a film.

A Woman Under the Influence (1975) 90%

One of my eternal favorites is A Woman Under the Influence. That’s kind of the center of everything for me. It’s such beautiful, simple filmmaking. I first saw it about 10 years ago, maybe. It just really struck something in me that I thought, “My god, that just looks like such a great acting piece.” It allows the actors to do what they do. They were obviously given room by [John] Cassavetes just to be brilliant, do you know what I mean?

I love ’70s film. There’s something about that era just in general – kind of wish I’d lived through it. Because, I think when films became sort of more constructed in a way, the bigger that they got, the more kind of panic about cash and everything [there was]. Back in the ’70s, it just seemed like there was a lot more freedom, just in general. A lot more experimentation and expression and all of that stuff. Yeah, I just think it’s such a gorgeous, moving piece, and the color, that kind of ’70s sort of saturation, I love as a visual.

The Selfish Giant (2013) 98%

Clio Barnard is a great filmmaker. That’s an incredible piece of filmmaking, too. I think it’s made with non-actors, kids that are not actors, which should be a disaster, and it’s absolutely like searingly brilliant. It’s about kids growing up in poverty finding their way through and their friendships. It’s just a blinding piece of film.

Joel Meares for Rotten Tomatoes: One of the things that struck me about The Flood is that we’re watching someone basically go to work; she’s kind of a cog in this bureaucratic machine. We don’t really see a lot of stories about people just doing the work and the sort of dilemmas that come up with that.

Lena Headey: It’s just basic. Do you know what I mean? What I love about it is there’s no frivolity in the film, and it doesn’t shove any message in anyone’s face. It’s like: This is it. Obviously, we’ve dramatized moments, to make it kind of cinema-worthy, but you’re just watching someone on the grind, you know what I mean?

I like that you said that the movie doesn’t deliver this strong message on either side. I was reading a review that took a dig at the movie for not having a view, and I thought to myself that kind of misses the point, because this is a complex and nuanced situation.

Headey: It’s so complicated, yeah, so complicated. There were so many opinions, so many opinions, you know what I mean? It’s just like, watch this. This is what’s happening daily, and we kind of just brush over it.

I know that you’ve done some work with International Rescue Committee, and obviously you EPed this project. Was there a moment that shook you out of whatever it was and made you get more actively involved or interested in this cause?

Headey: Yeah. Yep. I’d been reading, obviously, and listening to everything happening in Syria, and then it was Alan Kurdi, whose body washed up on the shores of Bodrum, dead. It just moved me. Then I kind of got more involved, and I started watching more stories, and I saw this woman who had a child who [was near an officer] at a border. She was just like, “Take my child so he can live.” Then, it sort of opened the floodgates, as it were. There’s no returning for me after that.

You went to the camps, right, at Lesbos?

Headey: Mm-hmm, yeah. I went to about five different camps over the time I’ve been working with them, yeah. 

Watching this film and how it turned out, do you feel like what we see of the The Jungle refugee camp will give people who have no concept of what life could possibly be like there some insight into it?

Headey: Yeah, I think it gives you a tiny… it’s sort of a swallowable thing to see. It’s just moving enough, hopefully it’ll anger people enough. But, of course, there are far worse things going on. We concentrated on Ivanno’s  character, Haile, so the film’s really about his journey.

What is something that’s surprised you that you’ve learned about the refugee crisis since becoming involved?

Headey: Human resilience. How people with absolutely f–k all, who’ve lost every possible thing, can still smile and offer you a cup of tea when they’ve got nothing. I think that’s something we can all learn right now.

I’m going to pivot a little bit, back a few years, if you don’t mind. The RT staff and audience are all huge fans of The Sarah Connor Chronicles. With so many series reboots happening, if someone came to you and asked you to play her again, would you consider it?

Headey: I would totally do it if it was on like a cable channel, so we could be more dirty with it. Yeah, yeah, make it a bit more grungy, do you know what I mean? As it would be, yeah, and not bring any men in. Maybe an actor or two, but I think she needs to be able to handle herself.

One reboot of sorts you’re a part of is Netflix’s upcoming animated Masters of the Universe: Revelation. Have you started recording yet?

Headey: Yeah, we’ve done a few episodes. I did a session with Mark Hamill, which was great. He’s really wonderful to watch and a lovely guy. We’ve got a bit more to do. I think this whole thing has shut down so many things.

You play Skeletor’s [Hamill] second-in-command, Evil-Lyn. What can we expect from your take on the character?

Headey: I think she’s pretty loyal to the original material, character-wise. I’m not doing any sort of grand, strange voice, no. It’s more about her, who she is, and her relationships. She’s quite a weirdo.

The Flood is available on VOD from Friday, May 1, 2020. 

Thumbnail image: JA/Everett Collection, ©Sundance Selects, © Samuel Goldwyn Films, © Amazon Studios, Everett Collection

Tag Cloud

tv talk video Nat Geo PlayStation The Arrangement DirecTV Animation Binge Guide sequels stoner 4/20 spanish language free movies kids war BAFTA spider-man Marvel toy story Mindy Kaling Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt BBC One RT History spain richard e. Grant Amazon Studios GIFs DC Comics HBO DC Universe 2017 45 Acorn TV cars romantic comedy justice league FXX Trophy Talk Disney Channel werewolf travel police drama Funimation adventure documentaries Disney streaming service franchise Mudbound Marvel Television First Look CBS All Access San Diego Comic-Con medical drama Pet Sematary technology finale Classic Film crossover Writers Guild of America Oscars A&E ITV transformers canceled TV shows GoT worst movies Fall TV 2018 LGBTQ Crackle Nickelodeon docudrama Tubi historical drama Trivia Super Bowl Certified Fresh emmy awards A24 IFC Films sports witnail ratings MCU singing competition MSNBC mission: impossible miniseries comics cults halloween Infographic Hallmark OneApp Quiz ABC critics Apple fast and furious Tumblr Sundance what to watch japanese football game show breaking bad LGBT Avengers Horror GLAAD reboot news foreign Polls and Games ghosts cats SundanceTV biography romance The Witch Mystery Comic Book animated Thanksgiving book blockbuster Star Wars Television Academy nature Opinion strong female leads YouTube psychological thriller IFC HBO Go natural history Pride Month superhero name the review Paramount Network doctor who TCA 2017 remakes canceled parents universal monsters National Geographic Rocky robots 2020 Spring TV Disney political drama dc crime drama Teen 007 20th Century Fox TCA Winter 2020 Box Office directors Podcast boxoffice toronto discovery Film space Esquire unscripted Video Games APB YouTube Red science fiction Best and Worst Lucasfilm Toys vampires revenge Academy Awards Drama movie Watching Series award winner dramedy cancelled TV shows twilight festival true crime SXSW Walt Disney Pictures CW Seed Black History Month Cannes talk show quibi Turner Classic Movies Winners TLC stand-up comedy hollywood Apple TV+ Musicals black Red Carpet YouTube Premium First Reviews Amazon Prime Epix HBO Max History Winter TV Hallmark Christmas movies rotten movies we love Columbia Pictures laika composers zombies Country ABC Family 2015 El Rey MTV hist zero dark thirty WGN VICE TCA Awards PBS Nominations cancelled Tomatazos Amazon facebook Musical adaptation period drama NYCC CMT south america Holiday BET Music Emmy Nominations Spike Reality Competition Spectrum Originals Premiere Dates Disney+ Disney Plus DC streaming service Marathons CBS Fox Searchlight Brie Larson dark Sneak Peek game of thrones nbcuniversal television TV Land Paramount Awards Tour anime anthology Reality crime TCM E! venice Heroines screen actors guild psycho cooking American Society of Cinematographers Sundance Now sag awards Biopics Hear Us Out SDCC teaser Ellie Kemper serial killer green book Comedy Pop TV FX diversity disaster Comics on TV renewed TV shows Trailer ESPN independent Ovation cartoon Awards Crunchyroll best Mary Tyler Moore Grammys FX on Hulu Christmas cancelled television DGA Showtime stop motion TBS mutant Rocketman TV renewals comedies Martial Arts Election spanish WarnerMedia Marvel Studios Shondaland festivals 2016 Summer Fantasy movies RT21 joker christmas movies zombie binge Syfy X-Men jamie lee curtis New York Comic Con Starz VOD Vudu children's TV obituary streaming BBC Film Festival Shudder classics latino slashers Pirates spinoff Extras casting Masterpiece USA Network Interview spy thriller golden globes mockumentary documentary politics all-time cancelled TV series TV Apple TV Plus thriller scary movies reviews ID Baby Yoda Travel Channel PaleyFest batman Valentine's Day sequel based on movie President halloween tv cinemax Lifetime Cartoon Network satire TCA TNT blaxploitation archives Star Trek Netflix Sony Pictures Western die hard Cosplay Fox News worst VH1 Kids & Family TIFF AMC Television Critics Association USA Netflix Christmas movies Arrowverse rotten Anna Paquin Chernobyl 21st Century Fox french Ghostbusters Captain marvel Photos Black Mirror Sci-Fi video on demand Comedy Central Logo Superheroe Set visit 72 Emmy Awards supernatural OWN Disney Plus asian-american Holidays Adult Swim Peacock Countdown Rock Pop theme song versus nfl comiccon Schedule Discovery Channel E3 71st Emmy Awards Britbox sitcom Food Network Creative Arts Emmys Bravo australia dceu Universal Elton John elevated horror The Walking Dead Superheroes series Family chucky Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Year in Review Turner Women's History Month FOX harry potter Pixar 24 frames Lionsgate Freeform indiana jones BET Awards Sundance TV 2019 Calendar Mary Poppins Returns Mary poppins Endgame social media Dark Horse Comics Emmys The Purge concert scorecard Lifetime Christmas movies screenings Rom-Com NBC CNN cops The CW Stephen King aliens TruTV Warner Bros. films italian BBC America indie Hulu Character Guide dogs comic child's play Tarantino See It Skip It comic books Amazon Prime Video The Academy Action Song of Ice and Fire crime thriller a nightmare on elm street YA criterion dragons hispanic