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Exclusive: Lena Headey Talks ‘Fighting With My Family’

The actress also talks about what’s next in her career after Game of Thrones

Coming out in Los Angeles and New York on February 14 and
everywhere on February 22 is the upcoming comedy-drama Fighting with My Family, starring Dwayne Johnson, Florence Pugh, Nick Frost, Lena Headey, Jack Lowden and Vince Vaughn.

Based on a true story, Fighting with My Family follows reformed gangster Ricky (Frost), wife Julia (Lena Headey), daughter Paige (Pugh) and son Zak (Jack Lowden) as they make a living wrestling together in tiny venues. When Paige and Zak get the opportunity to try out for WWE, the family grabs a once-in-a-lifetime chance to turn their wildest dreams into a dazzling future. However, brother and sister quickly discover that to become superstars, both their talent and their relationship will be put to the test.

Written, directed and executive produced by Stephen Merchant, The film is inspired by the 2012 Channel 4 British documentary The Wrestlers: Fighting with My Family, which depicts the WWE career of professional wrestler Saraya “Paige” Bevis.

For Headey, who plays Julia “Sweet Saraya” Bevis, Paige and Zak’s mother and Ricky’s wife, this is the first of many projects we hope to see her in after Game Of Thrones wraps up this year. Blackfilm.com spoke with Headey as she talks about her experience on this film.

How did the role come about for you?

Lena Headey: I had seen the documentary about the family nearly ten years ago and loved them then. Obviously, Stephen Merchant is a comedy legend and I was excited to be part of this venture. I’m British and I know everything there is about us as a culture. I just loved that family and what they represent. Then the film came along and I did research into Julia and she’s fascinating and has had an interesting tough journey.

In talking to Julia, how did you try to capture the essence of her personality?

Lena Headey: I hadn’t met her when we shot the film but will be meeting her during this weekend. By watching the doc and a lot of interviews with her, she’s hardly shy and is an open book. That’s another reason I wanted a portrayal of her with respect.

Since you hadn’t met her, how did you and Stephen work in displaying her state of mind when it came to her family and keeping them safe, sane and loving? Also, her wanting her daughter to carry her dreams to fruition.

Lena Headey: Julia’s got an acceptance of why her dreams didn’t happen for her and so they raised their kids and pushed them to get them into the WWE, which is the pinnacle of wrestling. Because Julia came from where she came from and she found Ricky and they found wrestling. They have this kind of unit that is unbreakable. The kids are the center of that. In the doc, she says that Ray is the heart of the family, she’s the blood, and Ricky is the brains, and when Ray goes to prison, it nearly dissolves the family but they sort of put it back.

What’s your history with wrestling?

Lena Headey: When I grew up in the UK, we had a lot of sports. We had big guys who drank pints and smoke cigarettes. They would step into the ring with their unitards and slap their bellies. They were called Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks. You have to look them up but they were amazing. It’s nothing like WWE and that was what I was raised on as a kid.

Was that you or a stunt double in some of the scenes where your character is wresting?

Lena Headey: In the scene where Florence is lifted in the ring, it was a stunt double. I couldn’t do it for insurance reasons and in case we injured each other; but we did the whole fight. It was three days and I loved it.

What did you find amazing about this family?

Lena Headey: What’s amazing about this family is that they are honest with each other, and there is no pretense in them. They are exactly who they are, which is this passionate, lovable and not always right. That’s why you fall in love with them.

With Game of Thrones coming to a close, what are some of the projects you are looking to do?

Lena Headey: I’me leaning towards producing and directing. I’m just reading books, developing books and I just shot my little film, which is exciting.

What brought about the change in field?

Lena Headey: I’ve always wanted to. For me, it’s a very natural progression. I’ve always written stuff and it was sort of the right time. I found a great female producer who was on board and helped me put it together. It’s where I belong. I feel really content there.

What are your thoughts about the end of a long journey with Game of Thrones?

Lena Headey: We finished it about a year ago. I think until the season is out and it’s really the end, can you truly reflect on it. It’s been mental. No on expected it to go this long or that it would be this huge in the world. when you’re visible, it changes things, so still treating that treating that with humility and works out hopefully. It’s been a good ride.

Did you take anything to keep after it was over?

Lena Headey: I didn’t take anything. I should have. I didn’t take any eBay-able stuff.

Is there any timeframe in which you had the most fun on set?

Lena Headey: The whole thing has been just wild and a majority of us are still saying, “How did that happen?” We’re a part of this thing that changed and influenced and carried some of us from being babies to our 20s, not me obviously. This growth for everyone has been magic.

For anyone who looks to you for advice, what’s the staying power to be relevant when you’ve been working over 10 years?

Lena Headey: It’s like the Knight family, you have to be honest. If you’re true and authentic, it might take you a little bit longer and might be hard work on the way or along the journey, but you if are true to who you are and you’re not a shitbag to people, that will pay off in whatever you desire in the end I feel. Stick to your truth.

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