Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime) responds to Game of Thrones criticisms

STUDIO CITY, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 08: Actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau visits 'The IMDb Show' on April 8, 2019 in Studio City, California. This episode of 'The IMDb Show' airs on April 18, 2019. (Photo by Rich Polk/Getty Images for IMDb)
STUDIO CITY, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 08: Actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau visits 'The IMDb Show' on April 8, 2019 in Studio City, California. This episode of 'The IMDb Show' airs on April 18, 2019. (Photo by Rich Polk/Getty Images for IMDb) /

Con of Thrones 2019 happened a few weekends back, but we’re still sorting through the fun. Among the highlights, naturally, was Nikolaj Coster-Waldau appearing on stage to talk all things Jaime Lannister and Game of Thrones. Watch his full interview below, and then we’ll hit the highlights!

So probably the most interesting part of the interview comes around 17:30, when Coster-Waldau responds to some of the criticisms leveled at the final season of the show. And you tell he’s read some of the…ahem…spirited discourse on the subject because he brings up and refutes a coupe of common critiques himself, as for example the final season being paced too quickly. “Fair enough,” he conceded. “I would have loved to have gone another season, but I think that the crew would have died. It was so hard to shoot this last thing.”

Everything we heard about the shoot on season 8 bears that out. These people worked hard on the last season of the show, including on “The Long Night,” which got lambasted for being lit poorly. Once again, Coster-Waldau conceded that there was some truth to this, but brings some much-needed context.

"It was really dark…I actually spoke to Dan Weiss about this, because it really pissed him off as well. You’ve gotta believe me, they did everything they could to make this the most exciting action sequence ever made, put on film, TV, anything. So to wake up and see the Twitter or whatever talking about, ‘I can’t see it,” seriously it was a surprise to everyone."

I think Coster-Waldau is getting at a distinction that too often got lost in the immediate backlash to the final crop of episodes: obviously you can think whatever you want about season 8 — your reaction is your reaction — but the criticism of the people behind the show often crossed into the realm of vitriolic nonsense, with folks forgetting or ignoring that that everyone who worked on season 8  busted their butts trying to make it as good as possible, showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss most of all.

Basically, people can hate season 8 all they want, but that’s no reason to abandon civility or empathy.

And yes, no one’s arguing that “The Long Night” wasn’t really really dark.

Coster-Waldau also addressed some of the controversy surrounding Jaime’s heartrending break-up with Brienne of Tarth. “[T]he intention of our scene, and what I thought was so beautiful, is that…she doesn’t want him to leave…She wants him to live,” he said. “She knows that he’s a good guy. Well, she believes that he knows that. And when he says [all those things that prove] that I’m not worthy of you…The pain for her is that she can’t persuade him…that he is good enough, and that he is worthy of her love.”

Personally, that scene worked for me on first watch — I think the intention Coster-Waldau outlined got across…but it’s not always like that. Apparently eager to address all the controversies the show stirred up during its time on air, Coster-Waldau brought up the infamous scene from season 4 where Cersei and Jaime have sex in front of the body of their dead son Joffrey. In George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire novels, that sex scene is messy and disturbing, but at least arguably consensual. On the show, it read as Jaime raping Cersei. “The intention was that there were two people in extreme pain that needed in each other in a way that became very physical, as most of their relationship was,” Coster-Waldau recalled. “It was never intended to be a violent act of…well, you know what I mean.”

Unfortunately, intention doesn’t always translate into reality, not when you’re making TV.

He’d also heard fans wonder if Jaime was going to kill Cersei in the end, rather than die with her. “Imagine if that had happened,” he mused. “The outcry. ‘So obvious! God! So that coming years ago.'”

I mean…maybe? I enjoyed the way Jaime and Cersei went out, but I think the fans who didn’t like it were more upset with the execution than the fact of it. But sure, there was always going to be criticism.

In a lighter part of the interview, Coster-Waldau put Jaime’s knighting of Brienne into context, saying that this “declaration of love” was spurred on in part “by a big red-headed hunk of a man taking some of the spotlight.”

"Sometimes change happens because someone suddenly stands up and goes, ‘Hang on a second, this has to change,’ which is what Tormund did in that scene."

And he loved the last Brienne scene with her writing Jaime’s deeds in the White Book — it wasn’t lost on him that Joffrey pointed out how little was written on his page back in season 4.

Some other fun bits from the interview:

  • Coster-Waldau first realized Game of Thrones was going well was someone called him “Kingslayer” in a New York bar.
  • When Coster-Waldau rode away at the end of the breakup scene with Brienne, his horse fell over, and the producers made a big deal out of it. But don’t worry: actor and horse were both fine.
  • So far as favorite scenes go, Coster-Waldau makes special mention of the scene where Qyburn operates on Jaime’s hand and the bit where he and Peter Dinklage danced up the aisle at Tyrion’s trial. He’s also a big fan of the Jaime-Edmure conversation at Riverrun, and the bit where Edmure nominates himself for king and is shot down.
  • Staff writer Bryan Cogman was fighting to master his emotions when reading the stage directions during the season 8 table read when he got to Jaime and Cersei’s deaths.
  • The only cast member you shouldn’t try to compete with at drinking is Jason Momoa, “cause that’s gonna kill you.”
  • Coster-Waldau would’ve killed to work with Max von Sydow (the Three-Eyed Raven) or Jim Broadbent (Archmaester Ebrose), “those legends.”
  • He found the Euron-Jaime fight scene hard, purely because he knew it was his last scene and he was afraid he was going to start bawling like he’d seen several of his castmates do already. “Sophie Turner was crying a lot last season. She would be like, ‘Oh, this is the last time I’m gonna see that washroom.’…Anything would make her burst into tears.”
  • While the final season was shooting, Conan O’Brien stopped by to record an interview special to be included on the Complete Series Boxset. Coster-Waldau revealed that the crew members serve as the audience.
  • About 26 minutes in, Coster-Waldau takes a call from his wife, who may have gotten locked out of the convention hall. Pretty funny stuff.
  • His Charles Dance impression at 32:50 is great.

And finally, Coster-Waldau weighed in the infamous petition to “remake” the final season of the show. “Yeah, we’ll change it, HBO will fund it, if just those 1.5 million people can agree on what they want.”


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