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Not My Job: We Quiz Lena Headey On Games Worse Than 'Game Of Thrones'

BILL KURTIS: From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME, the NPR news quiz. I'm Bill Kurtis. And here is your host at the Chase Bank Auditorium in downtown Chicago, Peter Sagal.


Thank you, Bill.


SAGAL: So this week we are celebrating summer, meaning the time when you get to put everything aside like doing a new radio show and just enjoy the simple pleasures, like rebroadcasting old bits from your radio show.


KURTIS: And also, reading big books without a lick of intellectual content.

SAGAL: That too. Books like "Game Of Thrones," and if you're too lazy to even read, you can enjoy the HBO show based on them. We interviewed Lena Headey, a very nice actress who plays a truly terrible person, Queen Cersei Lannister.

KURTIS: Peter started our conversation with her in February of this year by confessing he was terrified of her.


SAGAL: Now, I know the cliche that you are but an actor. You are not the parts that you play, yet at the prospect of speaking to you, I was actually terrified. Does this happen to you a lot?

LENA HEADEY: Yeah, it does seem to. People do seem to think that I'm going to be some wicked witch, and then they're always surprised to find out I'm just a little clumsy nerd.

SAGAL: Really? Do you enjoy playing somebody who is so pointedly not cheerful and happy?

HEADEY: Yeah, it's cathartic because I guess, you know, it's not socially acceptable to be a complete and utter manipulative cow. So I can get it all out...

SAGAL: I guess so. Now, you have played a lot of very - I will - for lack of a better word - nerdy roles. You were in the big classic nerdy Greek combat movie "300" as the...


SAGAL: ...Sexy Queen Gorgo. So the nerds must freak out when they see you on the street.

HEADEY: Yep, I get a bit of nerd love.

SAGAL: You do?

HEADEY: (Unintelligible).

SAGAL: What is nerd love like?

HEADEY: Loud. And...


SAGAL: Did you - I have to ask you this question - you, like a lot of the actors on "Game Of Thrones, did not read the books, right?


SAGAL: And is that because you didn't want to find out what happened to your character in another medium or they're just a ridiculous nerd thing and you would never go near such a thing?

HEADEY: Both of those things.


SAGAL: And...

HEADEY: I did try. My mother read them all obsessively. And so I get the kind of shortened versions.

SAGAL: So wait a minute, your mother has read all of George R. R. Martin's novels.

HEADEY: Yeah, she loves to go oh, I know what happens to you next.


SAGAL: I have to ask you, your character, Queen Cersei, was forced by circumstances that are way too interesting to get into to walk naked in a walk of shame, as somebody's...


SAGAL: ...Yelling shame through the entire town. That was a very long sequence. Now, first of all, did you actually have to do that?

HEADEY: Yes, I was actually there, contrary to popular belief, in the place doing the whole thing. But I was not naked, though.

SAGAL: You were not naked?

HEADEY: Not my body.

SAGAL: That was not - really? Did they do the computer thing where they gave you somebody else's body?

HEADEY: They did, yes.

SAGAL: Did you get to pick whose body it was?


SAGAL: Because given the opportunity, I would really enjoy to have some - my head put on somebody else's body.

HEADEY: You'd think, but I - you know what? I was just like if somebody is brave enough to do this with me, then I don't care what they look like.

SAGAL: Right.

HEADEY: I really don't.

SAGAL: There was one guy in that sequence who leaps out and exposes himself to your character. And all I could think of with that guy was like hey, everybody, I got a part in "Game Of Thrones."


SAGAL: It's going to make me.

HEADEY: I know because, you know, we all sat around for, like, three days sort of tag-teaming on and off that set. And he was there; we were sort of having coffee. And I was like so, what are you - what are you doing? He was like oh, I'm flashing my willy at you.


SAGAL: Lena Headey, we have asked you hear to play a game we're calling...

KURTIS: You Win And You Die.


SAGAL: So the "Game Of Thrones," in the show you star in, is not particularly fun to play...


SAGAL: ...Ask Ned Stark. So we thought we'd ask you about three even worse games. Answer two of them correctly, you'll win our prize for one of our listeners - Carl Kassel's voice on their voicemail. Bill, who is actress Lena Headey playing for?

HEADEY: Chris Shields of Beaverton, Ore.

SAGAL: All right, you ready to play, Lena?

HEADEY: Yes, I'm ready.

SAGAL: All right, now, which of these is a real board game that you could go out, buy and play with your family today if you wanted to? Is it A, Swedish Parliament, in which you and your friends recreate the Swedish national elections around your dining room table, B, Family Time, in which you play a member of a family trying to decide something to do that will keep you from fighting tonight, or C, Mule, in which you try to smuggle as many drugs across the border using your own body cavities as possible.



HEADEY: God, one of them sounds more interesting, but I'm going to go for the second one, the family thing - the non-fighting.

SAGAL: So a game called Family Time...


SAGAL: ...In which you and your family gather around and play the roles of a family trying to decide to figure out what to do...


SAGAL: ...Of an evening. So that's your choice, you're going to go for Family Time?

HEADEY: I am, yes.

SAGAL: All right. I'm afraid it was Swedish Parliament. That is an actual game that you can buy. It was listed as one of the 10-worst board games ever made by a British newspaper, The Guardian. And then they published an apology because all these fans of Swedish Parliament wrote in and said, you know, it's really quite interesting.


SAGAL: All right, in 2013, a designer created a new iPhone game that quickly got banned from the App Store. Was it which of these - A, Send Me To Heaven, which challenges you to throw your phone as high as you can into the air...


SAGAL: ...B, Big Jerk - the object of that game is to walk by as many people as you can while staring at your phone, or C, Drug Mule, which is an iPhone version of the board game I mentioned in the previous question.


HEADEY: I - I'm going to go for the second one.

SAGAL: You're going to go for Big Jerk?

HEADEY: (Laughter).

SAGAL: You're going to go for that?

HEADEY: I feel very solid in my answer.

SAGAL: I - I - no. No, I'm afraid the game was Send - (laughter) - the game was Send Me To Heaven. And it was invented by a guy who just wanted to see how many people he could trick into wrecking their iPhones by hurling them as high as they could into the air.


SAGAL: And really, the comments on the game in, like, the app store were I broke my phone.


SAGAL: All right, let's see if you can get one right. The 1960s were a golden age of board games. One of the less-successful games from that era is which of these? A, Digestion Monopoly, which is like regular Monopoly, except after you choose your piece you swallow it...


SAGAL: Whoever gets their's back first wins.


SAGAL: ...B - B, I say, Connect Two, or C, a board game called Big Funeral. You play by planning a funeral.

HEADEY: Oh, I don't want to get it wrong. But I know, I am going to say the funeral game.

SAGAL: The funeral game - you're right, it is in fact the funeral game...


SAGAL: ...Big Funeral. Bill, how did Lena Headey do on our quiz?

KURTIS: Lena got one right out three. And, you know, Lena, that's really good.


SAGAL: I see you've also watched the show. Hedge your bets, Bill.

KURTIS: I don't want on her bad side.

SAGAL: Hedge your bets with this woman. Lena Headey stars in "Pride And Prejudice And Zombies," based on the original draft of the Austen novel. And you can see her in the new season of HBO's "Game Of Thrones." Lena Headey, thank you so much for joining us.

HEADEY: Thank you, guys.

SAGAL: Thank you, Lena.


QUEEN: (Singing) She's a killer queen. Gunpowder, gelatine, dynamite with a laser beam... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.