While “Game of Thrones” has recently been responsible for a lot of tears, one of the biggest delights in Season 3 has been watching the development of Nikolaj Coster-Waldau’s Jaime Lannister.
He began his journey as the smarmy Kingslayer who pushed young Bran Stark out of a window for accidentally seeing something he shouldn’t have, and later, ruthlessly killed his own kin (Alton Lannister) to try and escape Stark custody. But then, along came Gwendoline Christie’s Brienne of Tarth, and things began to change.
Watching Jaime develop this season (and hopefully, those award show voting bodies have been watching too) has been fascinating.
For the first time, viewers saw Nikolaj’s character do something heroic for someone he wasn’t related to, and it happened more than once. He saved Brienne — this female knight who confused, challenged and intrigued him — from a brutal assault, and later, from a fight with a bear in a pit.
But most fascinating of all was when he shared the origins of his Kingslayer nickname with Brienne, a story Nikolaj told AccessHollywood.com in a new interview, he doesn’t think Jaime has told his twin sister.
The Danish actor took a break from filming “The Other Woman” (with Cameron Diaz and Leslie Mann) to chat with Access about some of the big moments his character went through this season, and hint at this Sunday’s Season 3 finale. But first, even though he wasn’t there, we addressed The Red Wedding.
AccessHollywood.com: Were you around when they filmed The Red Wedding?
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau: No, but I spoke to the guys when they shot it, and apparently it was quite an emotional thing because, you know, two of our original cast members kind of left the series in a very, very brutal way. David Nutter, who’s the director of [it], he’s absolutely brilliant, but they did say it was very, a very strange feeling on set.
Access: Were you and Gwendoline Christie, who plays Brienne, filming afterwards and had to deal with a sad crew?
Nikolaj: We were shooting after and before. It’s been a weird season for us ‘cause we have kind of been on our own little journey. … On a personal level, you bond, you become friends with crew members and the other cast, so that’s always sad to [see people] leave, but that’s kind of what this business is.
Access: Poor Robb!
Nikolaj: I know. ‘The Lannisters send their regards.’ … It’s unfair, right? He’s such a young man and he’s been thrown into this as being the King In the North and all that. It’s interesting to see these young kings. Joffrey is very different individual. There’s no question he’s a little monster, he’s a little psychopath, but, you look at them and if you look [at them] like young pop stars, or if you become very powerful … a lot of people look up to you for guidance. When you’re just a teenager, it’s not easy. It’s kind of a recipe for disaster. Now what was the horrible thing Robb did? He didn’t do anything really horrible. He fell in love with a woman.
Access: So Jaime is on his way back to King’s Landing with another kingslayer, or presumed kingslayer. There’s a man at King’s Landing who thinks Brienne is a kingslayer. Can we expect more heroics from Jaime should she need them?
Nikolaj: (Laughs) You’re gonna have to wait and see. There’s only episode left and it’s one of those episodes that are — it’s always a tricky one because you want some kind of ending of this year, and at the same time you want to set up next year. You want people, hopefully, to leave the year like, ‘Oh what a great season!’ And at the same time, ‘Oh I can’t wait for the next year.’ So who knows if we make it back, but if we did, I’m sure it would leave more questions than answers.
Access: Dan [Weiss] and David [Benioff] have said that they sold this part to you, telling you that you had to stick with Jaime for a few season and the character would start revealing himself. As an actor then, how do you feel about the season?
Nikolaj: It’s been a great season to shoot. It’s been so much fun. I’ve enjoyed it from the beginning, but of course, I was hoping that we would make it to this season because there would be a payoff for some of the stuff we set up early.
Access: For you!
Nikolaj: Exactly. With Jaime you have this extreme beginning, and I know at the same time that the reason he pushed Bran out the window is not because he’s an evil psychopath, but because he’s actually trying to protect the woman he loves and her children. [The audience doesn’t] know that for a long time, but that is slowly revealed. And also, I just love him as a character. There’s nothing better for an actor than to have secrets and he has so many secrets — big ones, small ones, like existential secrets. And then of course on top of that, you have the whole Lannister dynamic and you have Tywin who is ‘dad from hell,’ but at the same time, he’s your dad and there’s no question that Jaime loves and respects him and he looks up to his dad, but it’s a very dysfunctional family. … And then, of course, the big reveal [about why he killed the Mad King] and meeting Brienne. Yeah, this season has — to answer your question — has been a lot of fun.
Access: This season has been so good.
Nikolaj: I think it’s very well written and I think what makes it good is most people, at some level, are able to identify with Jaime because we all know the feeling of being misunderstood to a certain degree, or the feeling that everybody thinks they know who you are and inside you feel [like], ‘Hang on a second! That’s not me! Why do you keep putting me in that box! That’s not me!’
Access: Brienne really stripped Jaime down this season. He got to reveal who he was in front of her. Do you think he is a different person now?
Nikolaj: I don’t think he is going to start telling the story of The Mad King to like [anyone], like a bit of small talk in a conversation. I’m pretty sure that this was a huge thing for him, and it’s definitely gonna change him that he was able to reveal this. But, I also think that it tells the story of the relationship he’s formed with Brienne ‘cause I don’t think he’s ever told Cersei this story. I don’t think he could, for various reasons, but I think Brienne is — it means more to him than he even begins to understand. … He’s forced, basically, to deal with things that he might not have had to deal with before. Suddenly he can’t be the guy he was. There’s simply no way he can go back to being the best swordsman in Westeros. He no longer has that. In a way he’s closer to his brother now in many ways.
Access: So Brienne and Jaime… It’s something different. Jaime has always been so family oriented. He joined the Kingsguard at a really young age and the only female he’s ever had a romantic relationship with is his sister. Is this situation Jaime sort of having his first ever real relationship with a non-Lannister?
Nikolaj: Yeah! I think that’s a very good observation and I thought a lot about that myself. I’m sure this is the first time he’s spent that much time with anyone as an adult outside the family where it’s just been two human beings, where it’s not been about, ‘I’m the Lannister.’ Yeah, absolutely. And then the fact that she’s a woman, that’s also unique, and the fact that she is who she is, that she couldn’t care less about whether or not he was rich, poor, noble or whatever. There’s a reason why she’s with him, and that is she needs to get him there [to King’s Landing] because she promised that. … For him… that’s such a big deal to actually be an adult with someone.
Access: You and Gwendoline have fun on set, but she told us that when you shot the hot tub scene, you were really great to her, because she’d never done that type of thing on film before. Did you know that was her first time doing a nude scene on television?
Nikolaj: Yeah. We talked about it and also, I have to say, Alex Graves, the director, did a great job. … They allowed us to go out on the set before they finished the set and … we had a long talk in the empty bathtub, just me and Gwen and Alex and just talking about the whole thing. I raised all the practical stuff, the nudity — how much are you gonna show and with Gwen, what are you comfortable with, because it’s such a powerful moment in the scene where she stands up and she’s naked, but I think it’s also such a great choice that you don’t get to see Jaime’s [bits]… because it’s not about that. They can keep that for the brothel scenes.
[This scene is] about a powerful woman who [is] standing up for herself. But, of course, we had to talk about these things because even though they’re not gonna shoot it, she’s gonna be naked in front of me … It’s always a little embarrassing to be naked in front of someone whose not your boyfriend or girlfriend or wife or lover. … So we talked about that and it was very important for me… because emotionally, it’s a difficult scene and he has to kind of reveal himself in a way that he’s never done before. So I also wanted to feel really safe, if you will. And Gwen, she’s the best, she’s just the best to work with and I think one of the main reasons that the scene works is because [of] her acting. Even though she doesn’t say that much, the reaction shot and her reactions to what he says, kind of gives the show the emotional depth. She’s like helping the audience understand how big this reveal is that Jaime gives.
“Game of Thrones” concludes its third season on Sunday night at 9 PM on HBO.
-- Jolie Lash