‘Game of Thrones’: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau on What Has and Hasn’t Changed in Jaime Lannister

Game of Thrones” star Nikolaj Coster-Waldau is one of the few cast members of the HBO megahit to play a character, Jaime Lannister, that survives all the way from the start of the show to the eighth and final season. With the end of the series in sight, the Danish actor reveals what the show has meant to him and what he plans to do next, including, he hopes, a trip to “Alabama, Greenland.”

Jaime has had one of the most compelling character arcs on “Game of Thrones.” How would you describe his journey?
Well, he had an eventful eight years, 10 years [counting hiatuses]. I think “change” would be one word. He had to adapt and in many ways rediscover his identity. At the same time there is the core of what’s left of his dedication to his partner in life, Cersei. He says in episode one, “The things I do for love,” and then he does something truly horrific. That is still at his core, I think — that he will do anything for the people close to him.

What have been the best and worst things about working on “Game of Thrones”?
I think working with an amazing group of people, especially on an experience as strange as this, is the best, and I will miss seeing all of these people. As an actor, I’ve never worked on anything this long. Families have formed on this show. People have gotten married and divorced. Kids have been born. It has been quite something. … And then the worst of “Game of Thrones”? I think it was all of the not knowing. The first three seasons I knew where I was going. Then once we got off the books, [executive producers] Dan [D.B. Weiss] and David [Benioff] and the writers had to carve their own way — and of course everyone wanted to know what happened next. So they made the very sensible decision not to tell anyone at all. That was really the worst part. And if that’s the worst part, then it’s not too bad.

What have been the toughest moments to film?
I find the little scenes are always the hardest. Like in the dragon pit meeting scene [in the Season 7 finale]. That took eight days to shoot because there was so much coverage, and I find that really challenging because you have to stay focused, you have to be there for each other. And it was hot in that dragon pit. You have to be there, and if your close-up is on day seven and everyone is exhausted, that’s hard. But if you have a two-hander or three-hander with great words, that’s just fun.

What would you like the show’s legacy to be?
Let’s talk about that in 10 years’ time. But I hope that people love it because it’s entertaining. You actually feel like you can identify with these people even though they’re in this weird world of Westeros. … It never ceases to amaze me that this show has traveled so far. I think if before someone explained to you what this show was, I don’t think you’d ever think it was going to be the biggest show in the world.

What’s next for you? Do you have a passion project?
I’m going to Canada to shoot a movie called “The Silencing.” Then in the fall I’m going to do a play at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles. I’m doing “Macbeth.” Then hopefully next year, I’ve got a script set in Greenland. It’s called “Alabama, Greenland.” That’s a passion project, so hopefully I can find someone with some dollars to spare who will fund it, but we’ll see.

More TV

  • Kasi LemmonsNew York Women in Film

    Kasi Lemmons, Jane Rosenthal, Ann Dowd Talk Golden Globes Female Director Snub

    The absence of women among director nominees for the Golden Globes is another example of how much work remains to be done to achieve gender parity in the entertainment industry, honorees said Tuesday night at the 40th annual Muse Awards presented by New York Women in Film and Television. “Harriet” director Kasi Lemmons, “The Irishman” [...]

  • The Flash -- "Crisis on Infinite

    'Crisis on Infinite Earths' Recap: A Rewritten Destiny Brings Another Superhero Death

    SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched “Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part Three,” “The Flash” episode of the 2019 “Arrowverse” crossover. Tuesday night was the official midpoint of the ambitious “Crisis on Infinite Earths” crossovers, with an episode of “The Flash” that also marked the final episode of the year for the [...]

  • THE MASKED SINGER tree identity ana

    'The Masked Singer' Reveals the Identity of the Tree

    SPOILER ALERT: Do not read ahead, if you have not watched the episode of “The Masked Singer,” which aired on Dec. 10 on Fox. “The Masked Singer” has sent home another character — and more importantly, has unmasked that contestant. On Tuesday’s episode, titled “A Pain in the Mask,” the tree was revealed to be [...]

  • THE MASKED SINGER semi finals

    Everything to Know About 'The Masked Singer' Semi-Finals

    Television’s breakout reality show, “The Masked Singer,” wraps up its second season, unmasking a winner, next week — but first, the quirky competition show will celebrate the holidays. Teeing up the grand finale of the inarguable hit series, Fox is giving extra airtime to the show this week with a two-night event. Tuesday night, the [...]

  • daredevil Marvel Netflix

    Marvel to Shutter Television Division

    Marvel’s television division is officially winding down. Variety has learned that Marvel Television will no longer be developing any new series beyond the shows that are currently in production. According to an individual with knowledge of the situation, Marvel will eliminate a number of positions in the near future as a result of the cessation [...]

  • Kaya Scodelario

    TV News Roundup: Netflix's 'Spinning Out' With 'Skins' Star Kaya Scodelario Gets Premiere Date

    In today’s TV news roundup, Netflix reveals the premiere date for “Spinning Out,” and USA reveals a first look at Ethan Hawke’s return to “The Purge” universe.  DATES Netflix‘s “Spinning Out,“ starring “Skins’s” Kaya Scodelario and from showrunners Lara Olsen (“Reign”) and Samantha Stratton, premieres Jan. 1. The series follows Scodelario’s Kat, a high-level figure skater [...]

  • Philip MckeonPhilip Mckeon

    'Alice' Child Star Philip McKeon Dies at 55

    Philip McKeon, known for playing the son of Linda Lavin’s titular character in the classic CBS sitcom “Alice,” has died. He was 55. The actor died Tuesday morning in Texas following a longtime illness, family spokesman Jeff Ballard confirmed to Variety. “We are all beyond heartbroken and devasted over Phil’s passing,” said Ballard. “His wonderful [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content