Lena Headey on Being Political for the White House Plumber

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 22: Lena Headey attends the 71st Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 22, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Dan McMadden / WireImage)

Lena Headey is frustrated with the current state of politics. “We just needed to keep moving,” she tells POPSUGAR. “We need to see sense, not money. I don’t know if that’s ever going to change.”

The frustration with political power at large is certainly something that her “White House Plumber” character, Dorothy Hunt, can relate to, albeit for different reasons. The real-life Dorothy was an ex-CIA operative who was married to E. Howard Hunt, one of the key drivers of the Watergate scandal. Dorothy never fully saw the consequences of her husband’s crimes, however, as he died in a plane crash in 1972 while leaving Washington DC. Since her death, Dorothy’s legacy has been dogged by rumors about her level of involvement in efforts to steal classified information from the Democratic Party. According to The Washington Post, she was identified as a “pemistress” who bought off defendants to keep quiet about the scandal — and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Regardless, it’s clear that Dorothy certainly wasn’t completely out of the loop.

Headey’s Dorothy is a sharp-tongued housewife tasked with supporting her children on her own while her husband goes off on missions that usually end in disaster. In the beginning of the show, he is a silent presence. By the end of the season, however, Dorothy is free.

She says that portraying Dorothy allowed Headey to “experience the joy of playing someone … who is completely underrated.” “She’s more calculated, and she plays the game better than anybody, because she’s a woman and she’s in the background. Howard is out front with his ego, brilliant, as he would say.”

Howard, played by Woody Harrelson, is portrayed as a genuinely bumbling, overconfident agent endowed with a great deal of power. Originally a CIA operative like his wife, Howard’s ego is boosted when he is assigned as the “White House Plumber” aka the party responsible for identifying government information leaks . Eventually, his dedication to his work gets out of hand. Along with G. Gordon Liddy (played by Justin Theroux in this series), he becomes one of the parties responsible for the Watergate burglary that ultimately brings down his beloved Nixon.

As Harrelson’s Howard makes his way through absurd mission after absurd mission, Dorothy is always in the background, handling her daughter’s ongoing mental health crisis and smiling during painful dinners with Liddy and his wife. plasters (who has a passion for listening to Adolf Hitler speeches on his record player).

Dorothy’s arc is a slow burn, and of course Howard doesn’t notice his wife’s long-lasting rage until she’s on her way out the door. “She is constrained by the period she is living in, and the expectations of a married woman and a mother. But Dorothy knows – she always knew – she is the smartest person in the room,” says Headey. “I speak for a lot of women [when I say] Women take their time moving on, while men tend to get swayed by certain feelings. Mostly, when women go, ‘I’m done,’ [men] Go, ‘What?’ This is what happens at the wedding of Howard and Dorothy. He’s like, ‘I’m done. I have worked hard. You haven’t seen it. I have put it together.’ And Howard is shocked by that revelation, but hopefully we’ve seen Dorothy’s evolution toward understanding her truth.”

Seeing the finished show for the first time made her realize the stark difference between her character and the show’s mostly male cast. While she plays Dorothy with a certain dramatic seriousness, the men are in full comedy mode most of the time, and the effect is startling. “It’s a throbbing heap of really stupid men, with a shiny smart nugget of a woman in the middle who’s barely seen but watching it all,” laughs Headey.

Headey has previously played a woman lurking behind the scenes of political intrigue. As the ruthless, relentless Sirsi on “Game of Thrones,” she’s someone willing to sacrifice anything to gain power.

Headey, herself, is also a mother who cares about politics – although unlike Sirsi, who only wants to gain power, or Dorothy, who works firmly within the political system, the real Headey instead spends most of her time working with those in power. spends fighting with what to be. She has been a staunch advocate for refugees, working with the International Rescue Committee to draw attention to the global refugee crisis. The British actor has also been vocally political on his social media platforms, and after trolls shamed him for posting a video of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in 2019, he had a clear message. “I care about the climate, I care about my children and their future, I care about my friends and their children and their future, I care about the ongoing crisis, the humanitarian crisis around the world,” she said in a video those days. “If that offends you, or makes you think actors have no place in the world to have opinions – f*ck off. Unfollow me and I won’t cry.”

Like Dorothy and Circe, Headey loves her children — but while the offspring of her fictional characters often find themselves too close to explosive consequences, the real-life actress focuses on making sure her children, 13-year-old Wylie and 7- Keeps Year-old Teddy is out of touch with the toxic wasteland that is political territory. “I find it a circus of madness,” she says. It’s a dark road.” “I get into some issues and topics, but it’s not usually a political household. I talk to my kids about everything, because this world is crazy.”

She explains that it is difficult for a person of any age to live in a world where political motivation is often rooted in greed. “It’s painful, right? It’s chest pain,” she says. “It hurts your head when you wake up and you’re like – it’s just another day in the face of greed and stupidity, and we must toe the line and hold true.”

Yet, despite her doubts and fears, she isn’t going to stop fighting for a better world anytime soon. “You have to advocate. You have to raise your voice,” she says. “I think that’s probably what I teach my kids, hopefully more than anything. You have to be on the good side.”

‘White House Plumber’ is now streaming on HBO Max.