‘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

  • Kamala Harris

    Joe Biden and Kamala Harris Face Rematch in Next Democratic Debate

    Former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris will have the opportunity to square off again in the second debate among Democratic hopefuls vying for their party’s nomination in the 2020 presidential election CNN, which will broadcast the next round of debates on July 30 and 31, televised a draw Thursday night that decided [...]

  • Jon Wax

    Jon Wax Joins Amazon Studios as Head of Genre Programming

    YouTube’s head of scripted programming Jon Wax is joining Amazon Studios as its head of genre programming, Variety has learned. Wax will take up the position recently vacated by Sharon Tal Yguado. He had joined YouTube in August 2017, heading up drama, unscripted and current programming for YouTube’s premium channel. Prior to that, he had [...]

  • South Park Donald Trump

    TV News Roundup: Comedy Central Sets 'South Park' Season 23 Premiere Date

    In today’s TV News roundup, Comedy Central announces the premiere date of “South Park” Season 23 and Netflix sets the premiere date and offers a first look at “Unbelievable.”  DATES Related HBO's Return to Emmy Nomination Dominance May Be Short-Lived (Column) Comic-Con 2019: Best of Showroom Floor Comedy Central announced that Season 23 of “South [...]

  • US actor Kevin Spacey (C) is

    Kevin Spacey Shouldn't Be Exonerated in Hollywood Even as Criminal Case Ends (Column)

    The news that criminal charges against Kevin Spacey in the Nantucket groping case have been dropped raises an inevitable question: does this mean he can claw his way back into Hollywood’s good graces? Or maybe more importantly: should it?  Spacey’s rapid descent was startling, even as it quickly followed that of the once untouchable producing [...]

  • Game of Thrones

    HBO's Return to Emmy Nomination Dominance May Be Short-Lived (Column)

    As Hollywood braces for the coming streaming wars, HBO’s huge Emmy nomination haul this week sent a new salvo Netflix’s way: The streamer may have the volume, but HBO still has the goods. At least this year. HBO’s record-breaking 137 nominations came on the strength of just 23 programs — led, of course, by “Game [...]

  • Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer

    Starz Nears Realignment: Why Lionsgate Won't Hire a CEO to Replace Chris Albrecht

    Nearly six months after Starz CEO Chris Albrecht exited in February, Lionsgate brass is moving closer to a revamp of the premium TV network’s executive structure. According to insiders, at least one thing is clear: Albrecht is not expected to be replaced as CEO. Instead, Lionsgate chief executive Jon Feltheimer is taking a more active [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content