Cersei Lannister is a fictional character in the A Song of Ice and Fire series of epic fantasy novels by American author George R. R. Martin, and its television adaptation Game of Thrones, where she is portrayed by Bermudan-English actress Lena Headey. Introduced in 1996’s A Game of Thrones, Cersei is a member of House Lannister, one of the wealthiest and most powerful families on the continent of Westeros. She subsequently appears in A Clash of Kings (1998) and A Storm of Swords (2000), and becomes a prominent point of view character beginning with A Feast for Crows (2005). The character will appear in the forthcoming volume The Winds of Winter.
Cersei is Queen of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros by marriage to King Robert Baratheon, who abuses her throughout their marriage. Her father, Tywin, arranged the marriage after his attempt to betroth her to Prince Rhaegar Targaryen, whom she idolized as a child, failed. Robert took the Throne with the help of the Lannisters when he ended the Targaryen dynasty. Cersei has been involved in an incestuous affair with her twin brother, Jaime, since childhood. All three of Cersei’s children are Jaime’s, which is unbeknownst to Robert. The rumored illegitimacy of her children causes a power struggle in the wake of the king’s death, known as the War of Five Kings.
Cersei’s main character attributes are her lust for power, scheming, transgressive viewpoint, and her love for her children, whom she seeks to protect. She is considered one of the most complex characters in the story. Headey received widespread critical acclaim for her portrayal of the character on the HBO series Game of Thrones. She was nominated for five Emmy Awards for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series and a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance. Headey and the rest of the cast were nominated for seven Screen Actors Guild Awards for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series. In season 5 of the series, a young version of the character is portrayed by Nell Williams in a flashback.