The "Shame" Nun on 'Game of Thrones' Is Unrecognizable in Real Life

She actually smiles—and sings, too!

Aside from Ramsay Bolton and the white walkers, there's nobody scarier on Game of Thrones than Septa Unella. The devoted follower of the High Sparrow and the Faith of the Seven is a woman you should not mess with. In the show's last season, she mistreats Cersei, Margaery, and Loras in prison, and chants "Shame" while ringing a bell during Cersei's walk of atonement. In this season, she does a little of the same, and then keeps a watchful eye on Margaery after the crown and the faith merge. (Warning: The below video is NSFW.)

Those kind of character traits make a severe appearance pretty much a requirement. So here's how the actress behind the character, Hannah Waddingham, looks on the show:

Lantern, Animation, Fictional character, Light fixture, Fiction, Cg artwork, Sconce, Acting, Digital compositing, Lamp,

(Image credit: ARCHIVES)

Pretty scary, right? But naturally, Waddingham is an actress who can transform herself into her character, and isn't scowling on a day to day basis. MTV News (opens in new tab) points out that in real life, and especially on the red carpet, she's actually stunningly gorgeous. Here's her rocking the red carpet at the premiere of season 5: 

Here she is looking way cheerier than Septa Unella at London Comic-Con, next to the actors who play Lord Mace Tyrell and Pypar:

And here's her going super-glam at the National Television Awards in London:

Waddingham is a veteran of the London theater scene, and performed as the Lady of the Lake in Spamalot and Desirée Armfeldt in A Little Night Music. Here's her singing like a freaking angel: 

But she's played evil roles before, portraying the Witch in Into the Woods, and the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz. She has been nominated for three Olivier Awards, which are the British equivalent of the Tonys. 

She clearly seems to be a fun person to hang out with in real life, which is a relief. Last year, she told Vulture (opens in new tab) that she and Lena Headey had trouble keeping a straight face while filming the big "shame" scene. "We absolutely got on like a house on fire, and at times, we were told off by the director because we were just having way too much fun," she said. "It was actually more because I'm a smiley, wide-mouthed person in real life, and I think she just found it hilarious that I had to be really stern, and have this awful, scary face. So every time we tried to shoot, it was just like, 'Hold on, we have to get ourselves together for a second.'" 

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Megan Friedman
Editor

Megan Friedman is the former managing editor of the Newsroom at Hearst. She's worked at NBC and Time, and is a graduate of Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism.