A sequence featuring Cersei Lannister that was set to take place in season five of Game of Thrones was just denied a shooting permit in Dubrovnik, Croatia, causing the show's producers to scramble to find another way to handle the important scene.
Update: The Croatian film commission has reportedly rescinded their denial to film the nude scene in question, provided that no part of the scene take place within the church. HBO will shoot the interior scenes from a reproduced set, but are now authorized to film the ensuing sequence on location, in the streets of Dubrovnik.
A pivotal character moment for King’s Landing’s Queen Regent, Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) was scheduled to unfold next season in Game of Thrones, but the permit HBO applied for in order to shoot the scene has been rejected by the local film commission in Dubrovnik, Croatia.
Spoilers for season five/A Dance With Dragons ahead.
The sequence requires Cersei to walk naked through a public street, but at least according to TMZ, Dubrovnik’s Church of St. Nicholas has a heavy influence on the town’s policies and is particularly conservative when it comes to public nudity. Ironically, the scene in question is arguably the first time a nude scene has actually been integral to the plot, meaning the producers will have to find a workaround in order to make the scene happen. At this time they’ve admitted they can’t cut the scene outright due to its importance.
Certainly they could shoot the scene on a set and either reproduce the outdoor setting with practical backgrounds and/or a green screen, but the context of the scene requires a large crowd and a pretty large amount of territory. Shooting on set rather than on location could prove technically complex or prohibitively expensive. Whatever solution the production ends up finding, the scene is going to need to feel like a crowded, public affair.
Here’s where the spoilers get more specific, so beware.
While it seems that HBO is pretty generous in handing out nudity clauses to their cast, Lena Headey hasn’t appeared naked on Game of Thrones at all so far. This might be surprising considering both the liberal display of sex and nudity associated with the show in general, and the number of times her character has been involved in a sex scene, but with this news confirming beyond a doubt that Cersei’s nude scene was always planned, this might not be random chance.
In hindsight it’s not unreasonable to consider that D.B Weiss and David Benioff may have been preparing for this moment since the first season, especially due to the nature of the scene in question. Cersei has long been portrayed as a commanding presence, a breathtakingly beautiful and desirable monarch. However this scene in particular portrays Cersei as frail and, more than anything else, painfully vulnerable. Her nudity is meant to be humbling and, to be frank, a little pathetic. There’s nothing titillating about the way Cersei disrobes here, so it could have been a deliberate contrast: The character so frequently desired for her beauty finally on display for the citizens of Westeros, but in a pitiful light. With an elaborate and precisely orchestrated production like Game of Thrones, it’s not out of the question.