One of the latest in an illustrious line of British actresses to graduate from the English Rose School of Acting into the realm of full-bodied contemporary roles, Lena Headey first came to the attention of audiences in 1992, when she played the younger version of Jeremy Irons' wife in Waterland. Hailing from Yorkshire, where she was born in 1976, Headey originally intended to be a hairdresser. Fate intervened, however, when her performance in a one-off show in the company of six school friends at the National Theatre caught the interest of a casting agent, who contacted her drama teacher and subsequently cast Headey in Waterland.
Headey's turn as a sexually adventurous schoolgirl in the film led to her being cast as a sexually adventurous maid in Merchant Ivory's The Remains of the Day in 1993. More period adventure followed that same year in The Summer House, in which Headey played a quiet young lass being forced into a 1950s marriage with an insufferable mama's boy. After another stint as a corseted virgin in The Jungle Book (1994), Headey finally got to take part in the latter half of the 20th century in the BBC miniseries Loved Up (1995), in which she played an Ecstasy-saturated raver. That same year, she took part in another BBC mini, Band of Gold, in which she further distanced herself from her period past by portraying a lesbian prostitute.