Hannah Waddingham on pregnant 'Game of Thrones' audition: 'I thought I was in the wrong place'

·4-min read
Hannah Waddingham as Septa Unella (HBO/Sky Atlantic)
Hannah Waddingham as Septa Unella (HBO/Sky Atlantic)

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Before Ted Lasso burst onto the scene, Hannah Waddingham was an award-winning actor in the West End and had also been famously tortured in Game of Thrones.

The British actor now sees herself Emmy-nominated — along with others on the Apple TV show which has racked up 20 nominations for this September's awards — and says the role could not have come at a better time for her.

She spoke to Kate Thornton on White Wine Question Time podcast about juggling her career as a single mum, and how she wasn't sure she'd be able to take the role of Septa Unella in Game of Thrones because when she went along to the audition she was heavily pregnant and didn't look like any of the others who were there to audition.

WATCH: Hannah Waddingham on Ted Lasso camaraderie, Game of Thrones gossip, and West End wardrobe malfunctions

She said: "[The show] was so established. But I had been so busy doing theatre, eight shows a week. And so I knew of it of course, but it was season five when I went to the audition for it.

"I was nearly eight and a half months pregnant, like pregnant from the cheekbones out, you know, when your face joins in, in the last month!

"I walked in, and honestly, I genuinely thought I was in the wrong place. 

"Because all the women were like, 70-odd, about five foot two and about 20 foot wide. I was like: 'Right. I appreciate that I'm pregnant at the moment but I'm definitely in the wrong casting.' 

Dianna Rigg as Olenna Tyrell,
Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell,
Hannah Waddingham as Septa Unella
Dianna Rigg as Olenna Tyrell, Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell, Hannah Waddingham as Septa Unella in Game of Thrones (Sky Atlantic/HBO)

"Apparently I'd been put in as the wild card. So when I went in for the meeting, and met [producers] David [Benioff] and Dan [Weiss], and I was a bit like: 'Hello. I don't really know why I'm here and I know nothing about Game of Thrones. And I'm so pregnant, I might have an accident right here!"

She explained that in the middle of the audition she accidentally hit a casting assistant on the leg with a wooden ladle. She said: "In the middle of the tape, when I'm meant to be really nasty, I went: 'Oh my god, darling. Are you all right?' 

"And when I came back for my recall, David Benioff and Dan Weiss just went: 'That made us laugh so much. It was like this menacing person who's going to kill someone, and then you turned into Joanna Lumley!'"

Read more: Hannah Waddingham opens up about ‘horrendous’ experience filming Game of Thrones torture scene

She explained that she went along to the casting because she didn't want to miss the opportunity. She said: "I went along as a kind of 'hello, I clearly can't help you out at the moment, I'm about to give birth. But I just wanted to come and say hello for next time', which I think a lot of actors would do. 

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 18:  Hannah Waddingham arrives for the world premiere of Game of Thrones Season 5 at Tower of London on March 18, 2015 in London, England.  (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 18: Hannah Waddingham arrives for the world premiere of Game of Thrones Season 5 at Tower of London on March 18, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)

"And [casting director] Nina Gold came chasing out after me and went: 'This shoots in nine weeks, is this something you'd consider?' 

"I just went literally went home to one of my best mates and went: 'If this happens, you're coming with me to Dubrovnik. And she said: 'When?' I went: 'Imminently, nine weeks. 

Listen to the full episode to hear Hannah Waddingham talk about asking the universe for the Ted Lasso role and how she juggles her job with being a single mum

"And so my daughter was eight weeks old when I went out there with my friend and had the really embarrassing moment of being in my wimple and nun's habit. And I could hear my daughter crying, like, offstage, behind the building for that first part of the walk of shame. 

"And I thought, oh my god, I'm going to start lactating through my [clothes]... but thankfully not!"

Waddingham also opened up about the experience of being waterboarded as part of the role on Game of Thrones.

Hannah Waddingham arrives at the premiere of the second season of
Hannah Waddingham arrives at the premiere of the second season of Ted Lasso. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

She said: "I was at David Benioff's birthday, and we were all discussing that because recently, it's been spoken about in the press that I said that I was waterboarded for 10 hours and it was the worst day of my life other than childbirth. 

"What I actually said was, it was next to childbirth, but I would 100% do it again. Because you know that they're not actually going to kill you. 

"And it makes amazing television. Was it massively uncomfortable, and easily the worst day other than my gruelling childbirth ? Yes. And I don't care who knows it. And they all know it."

Watch Ted Lasso Season 2 on Apple TV - get 7 days free, then £4.99 a month.

Buy the soundtrack: Ted Lasso: Season 1 (Apple TV+ Original Series Soundtrack) | £9.99 from Amazon

WATCH: Hannah Waddingham on singing "Let It Go"

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