Nikolaj Coster-Waldau: Criticism of Game of Thrones showrunners is “silly”


Today at Con of Thrones, Game of Thrones stars Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime Lannister), Jerome Flynn (Bronn), Hannah Murray (Gilly) and Miltos Yerolemou (Syrio Forel) sat down for a four-person panel. It was a delight to hear them banter back and forth, and there were some more substantial nuggets in there, too.

Of particular interest were Coster-Waldau’s comments about Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss, who have taken a bit of a drubbing online following the series finale. (I noticed there was some discussion online,” Coster-Waldau deadpans.) Watch the video below, and then we’ll hit the highlights!

Okay, first of all, how much do we love the moment where Coster-Waldau looks at someone cosplaying as the Harpy of Meereen and mistakes it for an angel (7.40)? I wish I had a picture of the cosplayer on hand because it was a remarkable costume.

Moving on, here’s what Coster-Waldau had to say about the backlash to season 8, and about how it affects Benioff and Weiss: “We’re so lucky to be part of a show where people…care so much about it that you also get upset when it doesn’t go the way you want it to. And that’s fantastic, and I love it, and I love [laughs] that there was an online petition to have it rewritten.”

"The only thing I’ll say is that for anyone to imagine or to think that the two creators of this show are not the most passionate, the greatest, the most invested of all, and to for a second think that they didn’t spend the last 10 years thinking about how they were gonna end it, is kinda silly. And also know that they too read the comments, and even though you sit on your own and go, ‘Fucking stupid writers! Assholes!’…they really, like everyone on Game of Thrones…and there are thousands, we worked our asses off to make the best show we could for the ending."

I agree 100%, for the record. I completely understand not liking the way the show ended. I even understand hating it. There’s nothing wrong with voicing those opinions. Where it crosses the line for me is where people start ascribing sinister motives to the showrunners — they didn’t care about the show anymore, they wanted to move on to Star Wars, etc — when there’s no support for those readings. In fact, every indication is that everyone working on the show poured their hearts and souls into it, Benioff and Weiss probably most of all.

That doesn’t mean you have to like the ending of the show; I think Benioff and Weiss dropped the ball in some major ways, but I’ve never doubted their intentions. And given that they put their all into this, I’m sure they feel worse about the reception than anyone. That calls for empathy, not vitriol. And although I know the great majority fans are being perfectly cool about this, there is some vitriol out there.

Basically, hatred of the final season of Game of Thrones is unfortunate but understandable; if that’s how you feel, that’s how you feel. Hatred of the people behind it is weird and gross.

Happily, the people in the room seemed very supportive of the show and the people who worked on it, whatever their misgivings about season 8. “I just wish that Dan and David could be here to hear this, to understand that people really love the show,” Coster-Waldau said later, “that suddenly they’re not the most hated people in the world, because that’s how they might…I know how they feel.”


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Okay, now that I’m off my soapbox, here are some other highlights from the panel:

  • Coster-Waldau gave his thoughts on Jaime going back to Cersei in the end: “He fell in love with the wrong woman…and it became an obsession, and it became an addiction, and he couldn’t break out of that…Obviously, you’d think it would be much better for him if he’d just hung out with Brienne for a while…But would that really have been truth when it comes to the character?”
  • “I think he did love [Brienne],” Coster-Waldau continued. “I was very moved by the final scene with Brienne where she’s filling out the blanks in [the White Book].”
  • Jerome Flynn talked about Bronn being on the Small Council as the Master of Coin: “I think it’s a very good appointment. He’s been very successful so far, hasn’t he?”
  • What is Gilly doing while Sam is on the Small Council? “I think she’s probably having a well-earned break.”
  • Some of the earliest Game of Thrones fan theories were about how Syrio Forel was somehow alive and doing this or that elsewhere in the world. Miltos Yerolemou put them to rest: “He’s not alive.” One time, George R.R. Martin’s wife told him that she would never forgive her husband for killing off his character. That’s pretty much straight from the source.
  • Coster-Waldau talked about “going into two weeks of really being upset” whenever he received new scripts each season and learned that what actually happened to Jaime wasn’t in step with what he thought would happen. “And then I realized there is no alternative version of this script, there’s only this script that they wrote, and once I allowed myself to accept that, it really made sense.”
  • Apparently Kit Harington complained about his costume a lot, and Coster-Waldau was on hand for an impression. “It’s so fucking heavy! So heavy. Feel it. Just feel it.”
  • Remember the bit where Bronn and Podrick reunite outside Riverrun and Bronn briefly grabs Podrick by the balls? Apparently, Flynn improvised that particular move, and Daniel Portman’s reaction is 100% genuine:
  • Yerolemou, feeling like “a proud dad,” admitted that he “cried a little” when he watched Arya kill the Night King. Aw.
  • When Coster-Waldau and Flynn were shooting one of the Jaime-Bronn sparring scenes, Flynn smacked Coster-Waldau on his head with his metal sword. “That was another one of my favorite moments,” Flynn quipped. Those two were cracking jokes the whole panel long.
  • One fan asks what Jaime would have said to Arya if she asked him why he was going back to Cersei, and Coster-Waldau improvised a new line: “Listen, kid, just take my face and you do whatever you have to do.” This is as close as we’re ever likely to get to a new Game of Thrones scene.

There’s still more Con of Thrones to go! It’s been a blast so far.

Con of Thrones 2019, Day 2: Jaime Lannister speaks!. dark. Next

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