Becky got to meet up and chat with Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (along with many of the cast) last week for the launch of Game of Thrones Season 1 on DVD and Blu-ray. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau plays Jamie Lannister in the incredibly popular HBO TV series and we get to sit down with him to discuss his thoughts on the show.
During the interview, we find out what he thought Game of Thrones would fair in the world that doesn’t especially embrace the fantasy genre, how he relates to his character and what it’s like working on such an epic show. It also mentions his new movie Oblivion with Tom Cruise.
If you’ve never seen Game of Thrones, be warned reading this as it contains a few spoilers.
Did you ever think Game of Thrones would be so successful?
I wish I could say yes but of course not. It was one of those things we did, where you read the script and you think it’s good and interesting but at the same I also knew that when I see a show that says ‘fantasy’, it’s not going to be the first thing I check out. For this show to be able to read the target audience and at the same time persuade people who wouldn’t normally watch fantasy, to check it out has been a great accomplishment from HBO. Now, it seems it’s growing even more. It’s great!
Were you a fan of the fantasy genre before Game of Thrones?
Are you now?
Not necessarily. I’m a fan of great stories. I never really understood the difference between sci-fi or fantasy. Someone told me it’s when magic is involved. A lot of regular drams, you could call them fantasy too. I mean a lot of these copy shows, you could call them fantasy too. All the main characters are human, they’re not creatures, they’re not elves, they react to the supernatural stuff the way we do. They either don’t believe it or they say ‘come on that’s superstition’. The difference here is of course (and I think that was such a great way to introduce the dragons) as the final shot of season 1 where we’re introduced to a dragon and it looks real, it doesn’t look like puppet and I thought it was a great way to ease the show into that form of acceptance.
Did you have to learn the sword fighting before you got the part?
No, I didn’t have to do any of that before I got the part. There was a great stunt co-coordinator who created these fights. You just learn these moves and try to make them as good as possible and hope that you don’t get it wrong and kill Sean Bean!
What’s working on the show like?
It’s like the biggest travelling circus you can imagine. This season They had two full sized crew, two huge crews working at the same time in different parts of the world. It’s just amazing to watch. They shot in Iceland and only had four hours of sunlight.
When did you realise that Game of Thrones had become so big?
It was when we went to Comic Con in San Diego and I realised it was doing OK! There was one girl… first we did this panel in a big hall with siz or seven thousand passionate people and then I did some signing. I was sitting next to Lena and Peter Dinklage and she was in tears because she was so overwhelmed. I’ve never understood that kind of reaction and i felt sorry for her. I didn’t pity her, it’s just she was too emotional and passionate!
Do you think Jamie is a good guy or a bad guy?
It think he’s a bad guy. I dont think he’s a bad person or a psychopath. I dont think when he pushes that kid out the window, it would mean the death of his sister and her kids. He just weighed up the options. He’s a man of action so had to act. I think he despises that act and clearly it’s not something he’s proud of. I love playing Jamie Lannister because it’s so interesting to have that guy who really doesn’t want to be part of the Game of Thrones. When he was sixteen, in his mind he had his finest hour when he killed the mad king and it became the one thing that defined him but in a very negative way. Then of course he’s been living this secret life for 20 years with his sister. Yes it’s incestuous but for him it’s love.
He knows it’s wrong and I’m sure he wishes that it wasn’t so. Having to stand outside the door and listen to…. it’s just horrible.
What was the most physically and emotionally demanding scene in season 1?
The fight with Ned Stark, with Sean Bean was great, it was very sweaty. We shot that in Malta for two days in this beautiful square in Medina, it was great. Emotionally, I don’t really think about it in those terms. You focus on the scenes and a lot of acting is about being so concentrated so you can ignore the fact you’re a 41 year old man all dressed up and be in the moment.
You look a little bruised at the moment! Is that from training for Game of Thrones or something else?
I’m currently filming a movie called Oblivion. It’s a sci-fi / action movie and I’m gonna work with Tom Cruise and everyone says he does his own stunts so I decided I had to! I should really get a stuntman! I play a man called Sykes who’s a soldier and we start shooting at the end of the month.