Watch: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau on big payoff in season 3 of ‘Game of Thrones’

This third season of “Game of Thrones” has not been completely kind to Jaime Lannister but the man who plays him, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, says it has been worth waiting for these challenges. 

As he tells Gold Derby in the video chat below: “From the word go they said, ‘You have some good bits in season one, season two you’re almost not there, it’s nothing, and then season three is the one. If we get that far, that will be the big payoff.’ I was hoping we’d make it to season three and of course I knew all along about the secret Jaime carries — the story of him earning the title of Kingslayer — and how he sees that as such an injustice.”

On filming that scene where he relives this key moment in his character’s live, the actor admits: “It was a daunting thing … you read it in the books and you know it’s coming … There were so many practical things you wanted to discuss. Because you’re naked you want to make sure that everyone knows, how we’re going to shoot this and how much are we going to reveal … It was very intense and it’s a very long scene but they allowed us to do full takes … which of course, is exhausting for everyone.” 

In one of the most shocking scenes of the season, Jaime’s hand is chopped off. Admits Coster-Waldau, “People say ‘Oh my god, it must be terrible when you lost your hand’ but for me it’s just wonderful as an actor.” How so? “I thrive on obstacles. Obstacles are great… the more obstacles the better… he’s not the guy he was … Of course there’s a lot of practical, annoying stuff. I think I have four different versions of my arm … but it’s great.”

The loss of a hand and insight into his past has finally created empathy for a character who, in the pilot, pushed a child out a window for catching him in an incestuous affair with the Queen. Reflecting on this surprising turn, Coster-Waldau says, it is “all about when do we start the movie …  if you start the movie about you on that day, in that moment when you did the horrible thing, it’s going to take a while.” 

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He sees Jamie as “a man of his word and he will do anything to protect his family … When he tells the true story about what happened when he killed the mad king, it’s not easy because he felt he didn’t have a choice. He had to do what he did but he’s also ashamed because he did break his vow.”

The actor regards his character’s incestuous relationship with Cersei as “not very healthy, not for a moral standpoint, just for an emotional thing for Jaime… His whole life has been about sacrificing for Cersei… I think he maybe loves her more than she loves him.”

And as to whether he thinks Jaime is a good player, Coster-Waldau thinks “he understands the game of thrones, he understands that world, he’s lived at court his whole life, he understands what goes on. I don’t think he wants to be part of it and I think he’s got nothing but contempt for that world. He’s a soldier and I think many soldiers have little tolerance for politics … He understands the game, he doesn’t want to play it.”

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