Nikolaj Coster-Waldau Interview: ‘Game of Thrones’
“You don’t really have heroes or villains, and when you think you have one, it turns,” reveals actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, in our recent webchat (watch the exclusive video interview above). The “Game of Thrones” star is excited by the grey areas the characters occupy in the Emmy-winning HBO series. As he puts it, “None of us are just good or bad,” which helps make George R.R. Martin’s fantasy world relatable. The actor’s ability to navigate these shades of grey as Jaime Lannister during Season 7 has him in contention for the Drama Supporting Actor Emmy.
One of Coster-Waldau’s defining moments came courtesy of a tense scene with Dame Diana Rigg as Olenna Tyrell. In the actress’ last scene on “Game of Thrones,” Jaime seals her fate with poisoned wine but has the wind knocked out of his sails when she reveals a huge secret surrounding the death of his son. Though he never imagined he would have such a private moment with the “amazing actress,” Coster-Waldau lives for the emotional life that courses through these two-hander scenes: “There are so many layers and so many things happening between the scenes.”
Of course his most frequent scene partner in Season 7 is three time Emmy nominee Lena Headey. Jaime’s incestuous affair with Headey’s Cersei, and her eventual decision to turn her back on the safety of Westeros, provided a juicy dynamic for Coster-Waldau to explore: “He is defined by his relationship to Cersei.” So Jaime’s realization that she played him, and his resulting decision to abandon her side, could have huge ramifications for the ending of his story. He says, “For the first time he knowingly acted against Cersei’s wishes.”
Coster-Waldau also praises the way the series chooses to film battle sequences. “Action without context is not interesting,” he claims. That mode of thinking is clear during the infamous loot train attack, where Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) lays waste to Jaime’s army while riding atop her dragon. The scene is effective for Coster-Waldau because it’s shot from the Lannister’s perspective. Though her attack is justified, “the brutality and horror she inflicts, it’s shocking.”
While avoiding any spoilers for the final season of “Game of Thrones,” Coster-Waldau is able to produce three words to describe Season 8: “Surprising. Enormous. Heartbreaking.” He thinks for a moment before coming up with three more, “satisfying, shocking and… heartbreaking again.” With the Season 8 premiere pushed to 2019, fans have plenty of time to agonize over his cryptic teaser.