'Game of Thrones' finale: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau on Jaime and Brienne
Game of Thrones star Nikolaj Coster-Waldau is currently filming the big-screen revenge comedy The Other Woman, playing a man who cheats on Leslie Mann and Cameron Diaz. You’d think the cast and crew would be torturing him for spoilers for Sunday’s GoT season finale (HBO, 9 p.m. ET), but they aren’t. At least they weren’t when EW spoke with him last week, before the bloody Red Wedding episode. “Like with that episode,” Coster-Waldau said, “I so want to talk about it. I say to friends, ‘Come on, you’ll still enjoy the show. Let me just tell you.’ And they’re like, ‘No. Don’t. Walk away.’ People freak out like that, which is great. They’re very passionate about not knowing. It’s a little different with people who’ve read the books. They like to have the inside knowledge, but then you can see that I break their heart when I actually tell them something. It’s a tricky one.”
While he can relate — “I’m a huge Breaking Bad fan, I would be really annoyed if anyone told me anything about what was going to happen in the last eight episodes” — here’s what he will say about Sunday’s hour: “In episode 10 of a season, you want some kind of closure, and I think the writers did a really good job giving that in a way that feels satisfying for the audience. Certainly for Jaime and Brienne [laughs] — it’s so difficult to talk about these things without spoiling — there is a sense of coming to the end of a chapter. But at the same time, you also want to set up the next season, and they set up the next season in a pretty spectacular way,” he says.
Bottom line: “There will be yelling, and there will be crying, but hopefully in a good way.”
Here, we asked Coster-Waldau to look back on some of his favorite Jaime-Brienne scenes from the season — and, proving he can definitely do comedy, he phoned Gwendoline Christie for help.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: When you look back on this season, what will you remember most?
NIKOLAJ COSTER-WALDAU: We’ve had some amazing experiences. The experience of shooting with a live bear was spectacular and unbelievable. First we shot a huge section of the scene in Belfast, and then we moved out to Los Angeles in January, and we shot with Bart the Bear. You kinda go, This is crazy. We’re shooting with a live bear. That bear was the biggest diva I’ve ever met. He wouldn’t leave his trailer without an applause. I’m not even kidding. The whole crew had to applaud and go, “Yeaaaaaah, Bart! Come on, Bart! You’re the best!” Then he’d come out, and I’m not even making this up, between each take they had to throw food in his mouth, and he had to get the whipped cream, and we had to applaud him. But I gotta give Bart credit. He delivered. He put in a great performance. It was definitely one of the high points, and then to see it a few weeks ago was thrilling.
Of course, the scene in the bathtub where Jaime tells his big secret, the secret he’s been carrying for so many years about the night when he earned the title Kingslayer. That was a high point on a professional level, because it was a very difficult scene as an actor and after we’d done it, it was very satisfying. I knew about that scene, that it was lurking in the horizon, and I was hoping that we’d make it to season 3 so we’d get to shoot it. And overall, I have to say working with Gwendoline Christie has been such a great experience. She’s just a brilliant actress, and she’s a lot of fun to just hang out with. So even though they don’t have that many laughs together — [laughs] — we had a lot of fun. What other highlights? Do you mind if I just call her? Let me just do that.
You’re going to conference her in?
Is that okay?
I’m calling her now. I have another phone here. [To Christie on that line] Are you eating?… Well, can you finish eating for god’s sake, you need to talk to me now. [Laughs] How is the meal?… I am. [Laughs] Hang on. I’m just gonna put you on speaker, and then you’ll both be on speaker. Hang on a sec. I don’t know how to do this. Hello, everyone?
Christie says something about him showing off, but we can’t quite hear her.
Coster-Waldau: Why isn’t this working? [To Christie] You’re so low. Could you speak up, for god’s sake, woman…. Gwen, someone else is listening. Be nice to her.
Hi, Gwen. I’m from EW. Nikolaj and I were just talking about his favorite Jaime-Brienne moments from the season. He thought you might have something to contribute.
GWENDOLINE CHRISTIE: I don’t have any favorite moments with Nikolaj. [He laughs.]
I’ve read that the two of you enjoyed saying inappropriate things to one another. What’s the worst thing that one of you said?
Christie: I remember the time that you humiliated yourself on the morning that we had to do our nude scene. I was just chatting gently with David Benioff, [D.B. Weiss], and Carolyn Strauss, and you were in such a state of anxiety about having to show yourself in front of the camera, behaving like such a diva, you screamed at me because you wanted me by your side as some sort of comfort, and just to make everyone aware on set that you’re a complete freak.
Coster-Waldau: [Laughing] Gwen, this is very unfair. I’m doing an interview with Entertainment Weekly, and I’m calling here to get a bit of support. What’s going on? Try to say something nice. We were both hoping you’d say something nice. This is your last chance.
Christie: The very first day of filming the sword fight, Nikolaj and I still didn’t know each other that well. We’d been working with each other, so we had a sort of playful but antagonistic relationship, but we still hadn’t forged a very solid friendship. And then I was in such intense pain from the armor and wasn’t saying anything and continued to get up and do as much as I possibly could, and Nikolaj stepped in and said that I needed to have regular breaks, I needed to have the armor taken off.
Coster-Waldau: Did I?
Christie: He really took care of me and was very brotherly toward me.
Coster-Waldau: No, no, no. Gwen, stop. Stop. Stop. Thank you, but that’s boring. [She laughs] Go back to your dinner. We’ve got to talk tomorrow. You need to sharpen up.
Christie continues to talk and he hangs up with a “Bye!”
[To EW] Could you hear anything she said?
I could. I love that you just did that.
I hope that you understand it’s all just fun.
I got that. But let’s go back to the tub scene. It was beautifully acted, but was there ever discussion of Jaime washing his face with the one hand he has left? The longer the scene went, the more I wanted it to happen.
I know. You want to just get that dirt off your face. The idea is when he gets into the water, he’s so exhausted — he’d almost died — that he almost just rests his head on the back and sits there for a second. I guess if he’d been on his own, he just would have started washing himself. But she gets in his face. So that’s one thing. I have to think now. Did we have that discussion? I think we did have a discussion. I think I did one take where I took my hand up. But I think it was really about finding that balance between being delirious and being present, and then reacting to her. He gets into the bathtub, and then he’s being a d-ck insulting her, and she gets really angry and stands up naked in front of him. That is what instigates the rest of it. So, to answer your question, I think the idea was just to feel the heat of the water, and then he gets caught up in this moment. I don’t remember it being a question about makeup — a question of well, let’s not have to reset it every time. [Laughs]
Where is your prosthetic arm today?
It’s in Belfast. We have quite a few of them, various shapes and forms. Even in the bathtub scene, I think I got in 2.5 hours early to have the prosthetic put on, because it kinda goes on the upper arm and then it sticks out, and then my own arm is hiding behind my back. It’s complex. I think I had four different versions of this thing, and hopefully we’ll come up with a better solution next year.
What about the severed hand Jaime was forced to wear around his neck? Where is that?
I don’t have it, but they have it in the studio in Belfast. There are a few of them around. It’s an eerie thing to see. It has the same weight as a hand, and the makeup is so good I couldn’t tell my own hand apart. It was absolutely disgusting. Also, you know, there’s a scene before we go to the bear pit where I’m on my own going back to King’s Landing, and we have a stop and he’s cleaning my wound. That stump they made just looks horrible. These effects guys are so good, you look at it and you can smell it. It’s so well done.
Have you watched the “Gay of Thrones” recap of that episode where he says the stump looks like a cat’s ass? They split-screen.
[Laughs] No, I haven’t. That’s funny. It’s true. I never thought of that. It’s a cat’s ass! Ohmygod.
On that note, my time is up. Is there anything else you’d like to say?
I’m sure Gwen’s gonna hate me forever now. I have to call her and apologize.
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HBO's epic fantasy drama based on George R.R. Martin's novel series A Song of Ice and Fire.