By James Hibberd
April 15, 2019 at 09:12 AM EDT
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Cersei Lannister wasn’t the only one reluctant to sleep with the loathsome Euron Greyjoy.

Actress Lena Headey, who plays the merciless self-appointed queen of Westeros, was similarly tough to convince that her character would agree to bed to the bullying pirate.

In the Game of Thrones season 8 premiere, Euron has made good on his promise to bring the Queen in King’s Landing the Golden Company mercenaries with its troops and horses (no elephants though, much to her disappointment*). The ambitious Euron wants more — sex with Cersei, to be exact. His demand is partly out of lust, partly to edge himself closer to the Iron Throne. Cersei initially refuses (“You want a queen? Earn her.”), But after hearing Euron’s combination of veiled threats and roguish charm, she agrees. The viewer assumes Cersei feels like she cannot afford to risk losing Euron as ally if she goes to war with Daenerys.

“I kept saying, ‘She wouldn’t, she wouldn’t, that she would keep fighting,’” Headey tells EW. “But [showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss] obviously know what they’re doing and were adamant Cersei would do what she had to do.”

Helen Sloan/HBO

Euron actor Pilou Asbaek added that the matter was discussed quite a bit behind the scenes. “We had a lot of discussions,” he said. “Would it be out of character for her to be with Greyjoy for power? We discussed it so much that we almost ended up going, ‘Maybe it’s too much.’ Then we decided to try it out and see if it works. Sometimes you have to show different sides of a character. You have to surprise yourself as an actor but you also have to surprise yourself as a character.”

Headey said that after she came around to doing the scene, she found a helpful perspective on it. “There’s something to play in all of it,” Headey said. “Cersei is such the ultimate survivor in all of this. She refuses to fall to her knees. She goes to the place where she doesn’t want to go, which makes it more powerful sad because of who she’s not with.” (Meaning Jaime.)

Asbaek jokingly added that he was reluctant too, if only because he was concerned about filming in the buff. “I think Dan and David just wanted to see me naked,” he quips. ”I was against it because I’m half French, which means I’m half Yeti. I got the European look, you know what I mean? I don’t look like a guy who’s going to win the Tour de France and has shaved his body since he was 14.”

After sleeping with Euron, Cersei seems like she wasn’t entirely displeased (“you’re not boring, I’ll give you that”) but didn’t want Greyjoy to stick around either. Euron also made a reference to hoping to get Cersei pregnant, but viewers know she already secretly is (with another child from Jaime). Fans noted Cersei was drinking wine again, however, and have wondered how real her pregnancy is.

More Game of Thrones premiere coverage:
— Kit Harington reveals exactly what Jon was thinking when he learned his parentage
Got writer Dave Hill breaks down the big moments
— Nikolaj Coster-Waldau reveals what Jaime Lannister thought when he saw Bran
EW’s deep-dive recap .
— Season 8 episode 2 trailer and new credits

*War elephants can be outfitted with spikes and such and used against a cavalry such as the Dothraki.

HBO’s epic fantasy drama based on George R.R. Martin's novel series A Song of Ice and Fire.
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  • 8
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  • 73
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  • 04/17/11-05/19/19
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