Home / Arts & Life / Q. and A.: ‘Game of Thrones’ Actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau on Jaime Lannister’s Charge

Q. and A.: ‘Game of Thrones’ Actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau on Jaime Lannister’s Charge

It took a long, long time to shoot. We shot for more than three weeks in Spain, outside of this town called Cáceres, and as you might imagine, it’s very complicated when you have all these elements. You have fire, which is difficult to work with. You have horses, which don’t necessarily enjoy fire. And because the dragon was sweeping over the whole set, they have these amazing wires for this camera, which is just zooming by us. I can’t even imagine how they pulled it off.

I loved it, because even though it’s not as big when we shoot it, it’s still big. You have the whole wagon train. You have all the explosions going off. You’re on horseback. It is quite exhilarating, to be honest. When you see the Dothraki riders, the skill level is insane! Because they do it. It’s in-camera. It’s not C.G.I. They jump up on those horses. They shoot a bow and arrow while standing up on horseback, galloping, on a field that is not even. It’s rough terrain, by the way. And they didn’t fall off. They didn’t have any injuries. The stunt department broke the record for the most men on fire, and it’s scary to see one man on fire, but 20 at the same time? And they just get up, like it’s another day at the office.

To be galloping on horseback, with extras running in front of you, weapons flying over you, on an animal that could slip and fall …

There’s this weird thing that happens when the word “action!” gets yelled out — you have to fool yourself. For that minute, I have to fool myself into thinking that this is really happening. That it’s real. Jaime Lannister would never worry for a second about falling off a horse, so you can’t think too much about it. I mean, I worry about it after, but I don’t worry about it during the take. Or I try not to, anyway.


Nikolaj Coster-Waldau in “Game of Thrones.”

Macall B. Polay/HBO

When Jaime sees Dany, he makes a desperate dash to attack her and perhaps end the war. When Tyrion sees this, he’s torn and thinks his brother’s an idiot for doing it …

Yeah. Jaime’s not a complete idiot. He knows that this is a long-shot. But he also knows that there is no way that they can beat this woman. They cannot beat these dragons. The only way would be to somehow kill her, and for a brief second, he sees that opening. It’s like a Hail Mary.

But this is Jaime. He sometimes acts before he thinks. And you have to, in war situations. It would be glorious. He would save his sister, even if he’s the only one who believes she needs saving. Because you also see the horror of these weapons of mass destruction, it’s so overwhelming. The truth is, Dany could do this without the Dothraki army. They’re just there to clean up the mess. So yes, you can have Qyburn’s scorpion machine, and if you had 100 scorpions, you might be able to do something. But unless they do that, it’s going to be difficult to beat. Or they’ve got to go get their own dragon eggs and build a big fire! [Laughs]

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Jaime doesn’t see Tyrion in this moment, but at least he definitively knows, from his conversation with Olenna Tyrell, that his brother did not kill Joffrey.

I don’t think Jaime ever thought Tyrion did, but he didn’t know that he didn’t, if that makes sense. I don’t think he believed it. But they didn’t know who did it. And it raises a question of who can he trust?

Will it change anything? Will he ever get a chance to tell Cersei about it? Jaime’s always been on the fringe of this whole game of thrones, if you will. I think he’s getting to the place where he’s questioning, What’s the point of all this? Power for the sake of power? The times when he functions the best is when he has a purpose, when he’s on a battlefield. Like when he took back Riverrun, he did it in a smart way. Instead of just using blunt force, he can find the weakness in a person.

He’s such a great military man, but when it comes to Cersei, he’s just flailing because he doesn’t have that same level of cynicism, or that ability to lie, like Cersei, Littlefinger or Varys. They operate in a parallel universe. What is the endgame? When you see Cersei with the banker, it’s all about how she wants to control everything. It’s never going to be enough for her, no matter what. And it’s a tricky situation for Jaime. He’s more romantic about that whole relationship, and she’s not that romantic. So how will she react to all of this? It’ll be interesting.

We leave Jaime drowning in his armor.

It seems impossible to survive that. Luckily, he’s not wearing the Kingsguard armor, which is made of brass. But oh my God, don’t get me started on the water! We had a full day of going to the bottom, and that was not nice. I got a little sick, after. You have to go down, you have to equalize the pressure, and I’m not very good at that. It was just a tough, tough day.

Also, as you can imagine, because you can’t see anything when you go underwater, you depend on these divers to come to you when you signal, and you always want to have the feeling that you can escape if something happens. But because of the armor, I couldn’t. Once I let go, I couldn’t do anything. It was a great test of what level of claustrophobia I have, which turned out to be quite high. [Laughs] It’s funny, because it’s all in your mind. In my mind, I know safety is paramount and people are ready, but when you can’t see, and you can’t move, and you feel the pressure of the water? It was … absolutely disgusting, to be honest. But it looks amazing!

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