More action, blood and gore awaits fans of widely popular TV series Game of Thrones (GoT). Following its record-breaking season four premiere last Sunday, two days later, HBO announced their decision to extend the fantasy drama by two more seasons (five and six).
The unexpected success of this cable TV series, which is adapted and based on George R. R. Martin’s books, have been nothing short of amazing - especially for its large (and growing) cast of lead actors who now enjoy huge fan followings thanks to the show’s massive global fan base.
Danish actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau who plays Jamie Lannister, one of the show’s key characters (especially in season three), says opportunities have been streaming in for him the last two years, largely due to and “definitely linked to Game of Thrones.”
The 43-year-old, who has been in showbiz for more than 20 years, hit the big time only after starring in this epic TV drama.
No longer “just a head shot” after his successful turn as Jamie, Nikolaj has been subsequently casted in several notable movie productions such as 2013’s horror film, Mama Oblivion (which co-stars Tom Cruise), and a 2014 romcom vehicle, The Other Woman, headlined by Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann and Kate Upton (it will premiere in Singapore next week).
“Work-wise what it does is open some doors of course. Primarily because people see the show, they’ll watch it and suddenly, you know, the directors or producers that you want to see your work are actually seeing it,” he said, during an interview in London.
In fact, this was how his lead starring role in The Other Woman came about, says Nickolaj. “I mean I don’t know why Nick Cassavetes, who direct it, wanted me, but I’m very grateful that he did because it was something unusual,” he shared. “And now I’m going out to Australia to do this bid budget American film called Gods of Egypt.”
Indeed. There’s no stopping this “Lannister” in fiction and in reality. Read on for more as Nikolaj lets on the fate of his character after he loses a hand (and gains a golden hand in return), and tells us what’s next for Lord Commander Jamie and his biological sister Cersei.
Premiering within a week of its US premiere, the new season of Game of Thrones airs in Asia on Sunday, April 13 at 10pm on HBO / HBO HD (StarHub TV Ch 601). Also available free on HBO On Demand from Monday, April 21.
Set the scene for Jaime at the beginning of this season.
Nikolaj: He’s back in King’s Landing. He’s cleaned himself up and he’s trying to kind of find his place. He’s now the Lord Commander of the King’s Guard, so he has a lot of responsibility too. I think he’s happy to be back, but he’s also suddenly been dropped into that world of the whole Lannister family together – and they haven’t really been together the whole show.
What does that mean to him?
Well as we know, that family has issues - and Jaime has issues with his sister, in particular. He’s desperately been wanting to get back to her but now that he is, a lot of things have changed. When we meet him first they clearly haven’t really had ‘that talk.’
Jaime’s turned out to have more of a moral side than we might have expected. Has that development surprised you?
Well I always knew the truth behind why he killed the Mad King, the reasons behind him doing that, but viewers didn’t really get to understand him until that scene with Brienne in the bath tub. And also I understood why he pushed Bran out the window and why he attacked Ned Stark in the street. He’s very loyal to his family and he will do anything to protect the people he loves, but his whole life has been as a soldier and it’s a very hard, brutal, unsentimental world that he lives in. I think it was all there when he was young, but clearly he’s lost his innocence over the years and has become very cynical. Meeting Brienne and encountering that kind of innocence if you will, but also her extreme belief in doing the right thing and being honourable – that has reminded him of what he was and maybe what he still wants to be and what he believes in.
What does being a Lannister mean to him?
I think for all these kids of Tywin, you grow up and you’ve been told, you’ve been taught that you are superior and that no one, nothing is more important than your family. So no matter what happens, you always have to be loyal to the family. You’re being put on a pedestal and you just have to accept that. Being a Lannister, I don’t think it necessarily means being bad, but it means you are just brought up in a world where no one else really matters unless you can use them.
What are the implications of Jaime having lost his hand?
He’s now the Lord Commander. That demands some respect, that you are the strongest; you are the best. And he isn’t. Clearly it’s a big problem for him and it’s also something that he can’t really talk to anyone about because if he says it out loud, it’s out, and he doesn’t trust anyone not to spill the beans, so to speak. I mean people can see that he hasn’t got his hand, but they don’t know how it will affect him - can he fight with his left? All those things. Well, you’ll find out.
How has pretending to have lost a hand affected filming?
You’ll have seen in the trailers that he gets this artificial limb, the golden hand. Well that’s a glove. It’s a little annoying because I keep knocking it into things. I’m right handed. I’m never as good with my left as I am with my right, so it is a little bit like having to learn again. The thing is we’ve talked a lot about that with Dan [Weiss] and David [Benioff] because, you know, you don’t want him to be a complete fool with a sword - he’s a soldier. He’s been trained his whole life. Of course he can fight with his left. He can’t fight as well, and I can’t fight as well, so yeah, it’s a challenge.
Where is Jaime’s relationship with Cersei heading?
Listen, the guy has only ever been with this woman. They haven’t been together for a long time. I think there’s a very strong physical attraction, just a basic physical need that he has, that he carries. The thing is driving him a little crazy. Without giving anything away, the first scene he says, ‘Listen, I’ve been home for weeks, can we, you know…’ But also I think the whole emotional connection they have is so confusing and it’s so twisted. It’s not an equal relationship. I think he’s always been the one wanting her and not being able to get her. It’s kind of the same situation now. That’s one of the things that I like about this season - that relationship is so complicated and it’s such a power thing as well. I think most men and most women would recognise that in any relationship.
For the infamous Red Wedding episode last year there’s a famous YouTube video of people watching it in shock. How do you watch the show?
Well this last season, season three, I actually watched it live. Because I was working in New York so I got to see it just as everyone else did. Before that, I didn’t generally get to see most of the episodes until I got the DVD. It really doesn’t matter though – even though I’m in the show I still love watching it because I’m always so amazed by how they shoot it.