Nikolaj Coster-Waldau discusses Game of Thrones season 8, Jaime’s changing relationship with Cersei


Nikolaj Coster-Waldau has spent seven seasons guiding Jaime Lannister through one of the most interesting character arcs on Game of Thrones. From tossing a child out a window in the series premiere to finally putting the realm before Cersei in the season 7 finale, he’s come a long way.

His journey accelerated during season 7, which moved at a faster clip than earlier years. Speaking to Vanity Fair, Coster-Waldau explained the unique challenges that pace presented: “We’re used to having a whole season to get to a point,” he said. “Now suddenly, a lot of things happen very quickly in just seven episodes.”

"Trying to connect the dots between the scenes was a little complicated because you invest so much time, so many years in these characters, so when suddenly you find out that Jaime comes back and his son has committed suicide . . . there’s so many things that obviously you can’t go through, on-screen, all of these moments, but you have to still walk through them in your mind, if you’re an actor, at least talk about them. There was a lot of those connecting the dots throughout the season."

In season 7, the final dot was Jaime walking out on Cersei in “The Dragon and the Wolf.” Coster-Waldau knew that was coming, and built his performance in a way that led up to it. “That was great, because then you know. . . . She’s actually almost ready to kill him, it seems for a second, and that breaks his heart, because his whole life has been about her.”

But of course, Jaime walks out anyway. “I don’t believe you,” he tells Cersei. For Coster-Waldau, that line is loaded with subtext. “I don’t love you anymore. . . . I’m calling your bluff, and, you know, you can’t hurt me now because my heart has been destroyed by you. You can’t hurt me anymore than you already have.”

But now that Jaime has sundered himself from the woman around whom his life has revolved since the whom, what does he do? Who is he without Cersei? Coster-Waldau has been thinking about it. “Can we redefine ourselves?” he asks. “Most people have moments in their life where you go, ‘Can I really, fundamentally change?’ . . . The core of him has always been Cersei. . . . When that’s taken away, what are you then? What’s left? Is there anything left? When he leaves, obviously he has no idea. He doesn’t know the answer to that question.”

Terrifyingly, Coster-Waldau suggests that Jaime’s separation from Cersei might not be permanent. After all, haven’t we all said things in relationships we don’t mean?

"That’s, of course, said in a moment of passion. Who knows if it’s true? I’ve almost been married 20 years—June 6th will be our 20th anniversary—and I’m very, very lucky. I have a wonderful wife. But over 20 years, there are times where you have fights. You can be so angry that for a second in your passion and anger you can go, ‘Oh, fuck this.’ Of course, three seconds later, you go, ‘No, no, no. What am I doing? What am I thinking?’ . . . I think the fundamental emotions are the same in every relationship. As a setup for the season we’re shooting now, it was just amazing."

Two things aboiut two: 1) Coster-Waldau immediately backtracked lest his wife read this interview and think he’s equating her to Cersei (“No, I was just trying to make a point. Anyway. Sorry.”), and; 2) Yeah, what about the season you’re shooting now? Anything you can tell us?

“This is the end of the show,” he said, as if we needed reminding. “There won’t be any more stories after this, so, for me . . . I don’t know if it gets better, but I just find it a lot more interesting.”

"The boys have done an amazing job with ending Game of Thrones. It’s definitely been the toughest season—by far—that we’ve shot, ever. But it’s also been the most fulfilling."

We’ll take it.

Next: How will Game of Thrones end? The fans speak out

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