"The Weekend Rent offers quick-hit suggestions of what to watch at home to get psyched for new releases in theaters, on Friday."
Lena Headey and Ethan Hawke play a couple with some serious home-invasion issues in The Purge, which opens in theaters everywhere today. Set in the not-too-distant future, The Purge is about an America that has virtually eliminated crime by allowing its citizens to commit any crime they want—murder, robbery, you name it—during one 12-hour period called the Purge. Hawke sells high-end security systems for all his neighbors during lockdown, but all it takes is for one person to wiggle in and you've got a life-or-death crisis on your hands.
You'll have to find out yourself if Headey has was it takes to survive The Purge, but the 39-year-old English actress certainly has a history of displaying on-screen strength since her first screen role opposite Purge hubby Hawke in 1992's Waterland. Heady has become a steelier on-screen presence between her first foray with Hawke and The Purge. See the evidence below.
The Brothers Grimm
Headey first rose to prominence in this Terry Gilliam film starring Matt Damon and Heath Ledger as the Grimm brothers. Headey plays Angelika, a huntress who helps the brothers try to destroy the evil Mirror Queen. Angelika appears to drown at the hands of her werewolf father, but a kiss from one of the Grimms breaks the spell.
Heady really took her newfound fantasy-adventure status to the next level in Zack Snyder's stylish and beefy epic about King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) leading 300 Spartan soldiers against Persian god-king Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro). Heady plays Queen Gorgo, who gets all nude on-screen with her king before he marches off to war. While he's gone, the queen tries to rally support in Sparta for her husband.
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
For two seasons on this sci-fi TV show, Headey stepped into the role of one of the strongest female characters ever put on-screen: Sarah Connor, played by Linda Hamilton in Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day. The TV series takes place in between Terminator 2 and 3 when more cyborgs from the future are sent back in time to kill Sarah's son, John (Thomas Dekker). If you can pull off a role like Sarah Connor, you are officially a woman to be reckoned with on-screen.
Game of Thrones
You might have felt the rumbles after last week's game-changing episode of HBO's medieval epic Game of Thrones, but Lena Headey is still kicking around as the cruel Queen Cersei Lannister. Cersei thinks incest is best, at least with her twin brother, Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), and the product of their unholy union is the most detestable character in the realm, King Joffrey (Jack Gleeson). Over three seasons on the show, more layers of Cersei's character are revealed and we begin to understand that this is a woman lashing out to maintain as much control over her life as possible as the men around her dictate whom she is to marry and how she should behave. She's a ticking time bomb… and she has yet to fully detonate.
If Cersei could time travel to the future, perhaps she would behave like Headey's vicious Ma-Ma character in this remake based on the Judge Dredd comics. Ma-Ma is a former prostitute who becomes a drug kingpin and sole provider of an addictive new substance called Slo-Mo. Heady described Ma-Ma as "an old great white shark who is just waiting for someone bigger and stronger to show up and kill her... she’s ready for it." Headey has never seemed tougher on-screen, so hopefully some of that ferocity passes on to her domesticated housewife in The Purge and helps her live to see the end credits.
All of the film and TV shows listed above are available on DVD and/or Blu-ray as well as various VOD services.
Follow Robert B. DeSalvo @zuulboy