"Game of Thrones" Co-Stars Wouldn't Share Scenes After a Messy Breakup
Jerome Flynn and Lena Headey reportedly dated before being cast on the HBO drama.
The HBO series Game of Thrones covered a lot of ground (both literally and figuratively) across its eight-season, Seven Kingdoms-spanning run. Still, in all that time, it seems a little strange that Lena Headey's Cersei Lannister never shared a word with Jerome Flynn's Bronn, considering he was her beloved brother Jamie's (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) sometimes friend and go-to hired mercenary.
But if you listen to whispers from the set, there may be a reason for that, and it has little do with the difficulties of adapting George R.R. Martin's sprawling novels and everything to do with a bad breakup. Read on to find out how a real-life, pre-show romance between the two actors (allegedly!) kept them miles away from each other on set.
Headey and Flynn met in the early '90s and began dating in 2002.
In the mid-'90s, Flynn was best known for appearing as Sergeant Paddy Garvey on the British drama series Soldier, Soldier, which followed the lives of a contemporary group of enlistees in the British Army. During the third season, filmed in 1993, Headey joined the cast as a civilian character, Shenna Bowles.
Details on when exactly they started dating and for how long are hard to come by. But The Sun reported that the two became romantically linked around 2002 (which was supposedly confirmed by Headey's aunt), and according to Page Six, whatever they did have was over by 2011, when Game of Thrones premiered on HBO.
Their relationship reportedly ended badly.
While it's hard to pinpoint when the two actors began their relationship—according to a report in The Mercury News, Flynn even denied they were a couple in 2003—there is more evidence to suggest that when it ended, it ended badly.
An anonymous insider told The Sun of both actors being cast in the HBO fantasy drama, "They kept the full extent of it secret but it was a very turbulent relationship and it has been very awkward on set. Lena has opened up to her trusted friends. She appears to have a genuine hate towards [Flynn]."
Rumors said their contracts barred them from appearing together in a scene.
In a fitting turn, given Headey's character Cesei's reliance on whispered secrets and palace intrigue to further her agenda within the narrative of Game of Thrones, there are countless reports of how this supposed bad breakup affected the production of the show—but little can be confirmed.
The Sun, for example, quoted a "show source" who reported that "Lena and Jerome have not filmed together due to a bad breakup." In 2014, another member of the crew told The Daily Telegraph, "Jerome and Lena aren't on speaking terms any more and they are never in the same room at the same time … It's a pity because they appeared to have patched things up for a while, but now the word is they should be kept apart at all costs."
Some uncredited "reports" also suggest the two were contractually barred from appearing onscreen together—but that belies the fact that they did, in fact, briefly share the screen in one Season 3 episode, not to mention that a spokesperson for Flynn denied to The Sun that any such stipulations were in play.
Their characters don't interact in the books.
Fans on Reddit have spun up elaborate theories explaining how the show supposedly wrote around the rumored feud, even when it would have made more sense for the characters to interact—but that doesn't account for the fact that Cersei and Bronn, as a member of the nobility and a hired mercenary, respectively, don't really have much reason to interact.
In fact, according to a Reddit user, they never meet in the books that serve as the source material for the series. While the show did diverge from and move beyond the books in later seasons, that's hardly hard evidence that the show had to be rewritten to keep the dueling ex-lovers apart.
Flynn denied everything.
While no one from the production has spoken on the record and Headey has been tight-lipped about what did (or didn't) go on behind the scenes, Flynn has addressed the rumors directly, if only to deny them outright. Speaking to the crowd at a fan convention in Nashville in 2019, he proclaimed that he actually got along with Headey just fine.
"We were actually in the same scene together, and the last time I saw Lena we were speaking, so I wouldn't believe everything you read," Flynn said. "Lena is a wonderful person and a wonderful actress. I think the world of her."
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