One of Game of Thrones’ big guns is having a birthday. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, aka Jaime Lannister, aka the Kingslayer, aka Golden Hand (he wishes) turns 46 years old today. And if you thought he was younger, I’m sure he thanks you.
Coster-Waldau was born in Rudkobing, Denmark in 1970, and raised in a village of around 40 people. He graduated from the Danish National School of Theatre in Copenhagen in 1993, and had his breakout role in thriller Nightwatch just a year later. He worked steadily from then on out in Scandinavia and around Europe. Before landing his gig on Game of Thrones, his most visible role was probably as real-life master sergeant Gary Gordon in Ridley Scott’s Black Hawk Down. (Scott also brought Coster-Waldau back for a role in 2005’s Kingdome of Heaven.)
And then came 2011, when Coster-Waldau made his Game of Thrones debut as Jaime Lannister, the complicated, morally compromised knight and one of the few characters who’s consistently played a major role in the series throughout its run to date. Alongside Sansa and Theon, Jaime is the character who’s changed the most over the course of six seasons. He started out the series as a callow hedonist, but after a series of misfortunes—most notable the loss of his sword hand in Season 3—has shown new sides of his personality, and Coster-Waldau has done a terrific job of showing us all of these dimensions. That’s probably why the producers hired him in the first place; they knew Jaime would be going through a lot of changes, and needed someone who could be convincing. Coster-Waldau was a terrific pic.
Coster-Waldau received some of his best material in Season 6, particularly in “No One,” when he showed off both sides of Jaime’s personality in duel conversations with Brienne of Tarth and Edmure Tully. Hopefully, Coster-Waldau will get to dig deeper into Jaime’s inner life in Season 7, when he has to deal with the fallout following Cersei’s destruction of King’s Landing.
Happy birthday, Nikolaj! We hope to see you on TVs again soon!