Criticizing ‘Game Of Thrones’ Use Of A Body Double During Cersei’s Finale Scene Is Not Only Gross, It’s Also Missing The Point


I really wish we didn't have to do this, but we've got to talk about the Game of Thrones Season 5 finale. No, I'm not referring to the whole "Is Jon Snow really dead or isn't he?" debacle, but rather Cersei's naked Walk of Shame back to the Red Keep after she confessed her sins to the High Sparrow. It was an excruciatingly long and difficult scene to watch on many levels, leaving viewers feeling uncomfortable, ashamed, even a bit bad for Cersei Lannister. After all, while she has been a bit of an evil mastermind for most of the show's first five seasons, her fall from grace has been pretty tough, since it's stripped the character — literally and figuratively — not only of all artifice, but of dignity, too. Though instead of concentrating on Cersei's character and Lena Headey's incredible performance in "Mother's Mercy," people seem to be all riled up over the fact that Headey used a body double for the Walk of Shame scene. To those people I say, "Get over yourselves!"

Here's the deal: Actress Rebecca Van Cleave was chosen to head to Dubrovnik, Croatia to film the Walk of Shame alongside Headey. Van Cleave walked naked alongside Headey, who was clothed in a beige shift, while the cameras rolled. CGI was used to later put Headey's, well, head onto Van Cleave's body, and thus the scene was aired. This is a fairly common occurrence in Hollywood, and Headey certainly didn't need to justify her decision not to perform the nude scene herself (though many Internet minions would seem to disagree). While she has said she chose to use a body double "for several reasons," the detractors aren't convinced.

But let's be honest here. The disappointment expressed by those who wished Headey had done her own nudity don't feel that way because they believe Van Cleave's involvement compromises the power of the scene. After all, what difference does it make whose body was used? Frankly, I didn't even realize it wasn't Headey's actual body until I read otherwise online. If you're paying that much attention to an actress' naked body, it seems like there's a bigger problem than artistic integrity. In fact, it just makes you seem really, really perverted.

Plus, it's worth mentioning that if you're masquerading your problem with this episode of Game of Thrones under the realism cause, you're not only lying, but you likely have much bigger fish to fry. Should we condemn the White Walkers because zombies aren't real? Is the idea of Daenerys riding Drogon away from Meereen worth dismissing due to the fact that dragons don't actually exist? While it might seem that comparing clear fantasy elements to a very real human form is a bit random, the argument is the same: After all, what else are people complaining about other than that their fantasy about Cersei's (or Headey's, I should say) body didn't quite live up to expectation? If it wasn't "real" enough for you, you should probably start watching another show.

Personally, I felt the Walk of Shame was the most powerful scene in "Mother's Mercy," and I still feel that way even now knowing that Headey chose to have use a body double. Why on earth would I feel differently? The scene was effective not because the audience believed that they were looking at Headey's naked form, but rather because we were watching a character at her lowest point, and Headey's acting — the way she displayed the pain, humiliation, and desperation so plainly for all to see on her face — moved people. If that wasn't enough for you, perhaps you should reexamine your priorities.

Images: Helen Sloan/HBO (2)