“She looks like one side of her face has had a stroke”: Game of Thrones Star Went Through Absolute Hell as a Struggling Actor Before She Became Famous

She made her doubters eat their own words.

Hannah Waddingham, Game of Thrones


  • Hannah Waddingham recalled her drama teacher telling her she'd never make it onscreen because of her looks.
  • But instead of being dispirited by the insults, it only motivated her to make it big in acting.
  • The actress was also shunned by casting directors before she made it big after Game of Thrones.
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Hannah Waddingham has made quite a name for herself since playing Septa Unella, aka the Shame Nun, in the fifth season of Game of Thrones. Despite having little dialogue, the actress made her acting prowess known by commanding the screen, and later went on to secure two Emmy wins for her performance as Rebecca Welton in Ted Lasso.


Moreover, her success hasn’t been limited to the small screen, as Waddingham recently appeared in The Fall Guy, and is now looking forward to making her Mission: Impossible debut. But despite being in top demand in Hollywood in recent years, her introduction to showbiz wasn’t pretty, as the actress recalled being shunned by many before making it big.

Game of Thrones Star Hannah Waddingham Recalled Being Insulted for Her Looks

Hannah Waddingham as Shame Nun in GOT
Hannah Waddingham | Game of Thrones (via HBO)

While Game of Thrones finally gave the Les Misérables star the boost she needed, the years leading to her breakout role saw Hannah Waddingham struggle to land major gigs. The actress recalled being ignored by casting directors, “who wouldn’t give me the time of day” for not being in the right shape for their projects.


But this wasn’t the worst of it, as she was also deemed inadequate by many of her boyfriends, and her drama teacher claimed she wouldn’t land any onscreen role because of her looks.

hannah waddingham as rebecca Welton in Ted Lasso
A still from Ted Lasso | Apple TV+

Speaking on the Sunday Sitdown With Willie Geist podcast (via The Sun), she said:

I had one drama teacher that said to the whole class: ‘Oh, Hannah will never work on screen because she looks like one side of her face has had a stroke’,

However, Waddingham didn’t let the insults deter her, as they only galvanized her ambition to make it big, “I thought, ‘I will do. Come hell or high water, I will work on screen’”. And to say that she delivered would be an understatement.


Hannah Waddingham Gives a Brief Insight Into MI 8 Production

After David Leitch’s impeccable action flick The Fall Guy, Waddingham is now set to jump to Mission: Impossible 8, another IP that is known for prioritizing practical effects. With the shooting set to start soon, the Ted Lasso star gave a brief insight into her five-day experience with the MI crew, and how inspiring it was for her to work with Christopher McQuarrie and Tom Cruise.

Tom Cruise was recently seen in Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One
A still from Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One | Paramount Pictures

She told Entertainment Tonight:

We were in an Osprey [helicopter], we landed on a moving vessel with four and a half thousand Naval men and women on it and spent five days [aboard]. I can’t tell you how inspired I came away by Tom [Cruise and director] Chris McQuarrie… There’s any number of ways that that story could play out. When you’re watching Mission: Impossible, and watching the team go through these adventures, you’re having some sense of what it’s like to make a Mission: Impossible movie.

With the Emmy winner thriving more than ever in the realm of acting, she has no problem telling the casting directors “Bog off’”, who are now eager to work with her despite rejecting the actress early on.


Game of Thrones is available to stream on Max.


Written by Santanu Roy

Articles Published: 1534

Santanu Roy is a film enthusiast with a deep love for the medium of animation while also being obsessed with The Everly Brothers, Billy Joel, and The Platters. Having expertise in everything related to Batman, Santanu spends most of his time watching and learning films, with Martin Scorsese and Park Chan-wook being his personal favorites. Apart from pursuing a degree in animation, he also possesses a deep fondness for narrative-driven games and is currently a writer at Fandomwire with over 1500 articles.