Esmé Bianco was not yet diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) when she was cast as “a red-headed prostitute” on “Game of Thrones.”
Although she was only meant to be in the pilot episode, Bianco’s character ended up becoming a series regular named Ros, a clever brothel worker who was featured in numerous sex scenes throughout the first three seasons of the HBO show. At the time, she thought it was a dream job. But looking back now, Bianco is aware she was fighting her own demons while on set.
“My domestic-violence relationship happened many years ago, and I was only diagnosed with PTSD two years ago,” Bianco told HuffPost during a phone call earlier this week. “It was at that point that I started unraveling what had happened to me. I just thought that I was an idiot, got into a really bad relationship and it was all my fault. I was very ashamed of what he did to me. I thought somehow I was asking for it and I didn’t really understand what happened to me was completely not OK, completely illegal in multiple ways.”
Bianco said her trauma was hiding her truth “in order for me to survive.” So while she was shooting scenes like the “sexposition” lesson with Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen), she wasn’t even aware of what was lying underneath the surface.
“Honestly, I was probably so mentally tapped out about my own past experiences at that point that I didn’t really think about it. It didn’t even cross my mind that that should be traumatic to me,” she said. “I watched the scene that Joffrey has me beat the other prostitute two weeks ago, and I was shocked by how graphically violent it was and how it had never occurred to me before that it might be triggering some of my trauma.”
That scene was one of the most controversial of the show, as it featured the cruel young king Joffrey Baratheon (Jack Gleeson) forcing Ros to slap fellow prostitute Daisy (Maisie Dee) with a belt before handing her a wooden scepter to...