The actor shares his thoughts on Jaime’s military strategy, fatherhood, and walking away from the woman he loves.
HBO: As the fighting begins between the Lannisters and Dany’s army, what’s your take on the Lannisters’ military strategy?
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau: They accomplish a lot of great things from a military standpoint. Obviously Jaime’s not happy with all of Cersei’s decisions — he doesn’t trust Euron Greyjoy — but it does make sense. His decision to let go of Casterly Rock and set up Daenerys’ army was brilliant.
Of course, the truth is that with the dragons — as well as the Army of the Dead — believing is one thing, seeing is another. When Jaime’s army is attacked by the Dothraki and Daenerys, it changes everything. He realizes there is no way that they can fight this woman. She’s just too powerful. The weapons are just too deadly. So you have a plan, and then you have to change it. Now it’s at a moment where they’re running out of options.
HBO: Speaking of the dragons, what was it like filming “The Spoils of War”?
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau: It was amazing. What’s great about the show, is in many ways, they try to create as much as possible. You have all these stunt guys on fire; Dothraki soldiers standing on horseback, firing; the whole loot train. It’s very inspiring. You get to work with people at the very top of their game, and everyone is extremely focused. We shot outside of this little Spanish town called Cáceres and it was a beautiful location. It was, for me, one of the most fun times on Game of Thrones.
HBO: Does Jaime have a plan when he charges Daenerys?
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau: It’s spur of the moment. He sees an opening. He’s not an idiot; but even if there’s just a glimmer of possibility that this could work out, he has to take it. It would save the Lannisters. It would save his sister. He doesn’t have time to think. He takes the opportunity and he fails.
HBO: How has Jaime changed over the seasons?
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau: In many ways, he is a different man than he was before he lost his hand. I think before he would just use brute force, just knowing, “Hey, I’m stronger than you, so even if you don’t like this, I’m just going to do it and you’re going to have to deal with the consequences.” He can’t do that anymore, but I think it’s made him a better commander. He has been forced to understand and use empathy. We saw last season at Riverrun when he managed to avoid a violent conflict just by talking to Edmure Tully. Jaime used his own understanding that as a father there’s nothing more terrifying than the idea of your children being killed or hurt. The pain he experienced with Myrcella was unlike anything he had ever experienced. Even though it was a very brutal thing to do to Edmure, it was worth it, it actually saved the lives of thousands of people.
HBO: What was going on for Jaime when he found out Cersei was pregnant again?
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau: It’s a complete surprise. I think he’s shocked, and there’s a moment where he looks at her like, “What the… are you kidding me?” I think for the first time in many seasons, Cersei seems happy. There’s a glow about her and just for the briefest of moments, he allows himself to go with it. Of course, she breaks the moment by saying something really sinister.
HBO: What does it mean to him that she’s not planning to hide the fact that he’s the father?
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau: There no question, this is what he wanted his whole life — that he could be who he was, and be open about it. Obviously the whole sister-brother thing is so messed up, but it’s still his reality. He’s in love with this woman, and it’s been so wrong, secret and dangerous. So the idea that, “Maybe I could be her man openly, and we could have a child and I could be the father without having to pretend that I was just the sweet uncle, goes straight to his heart.” He can’t help himself but think, “This would be amazing.”
HBO: Do Brienne’s words at the dragonpit get to him?
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau: It’s always been “family first,” so the idea this goes beyond that is like a foreign language. But it does get to him. It’s one of those things where someone says something to you and it’s been in the back of your mind all the time.
HBO: What does he think of Cersei’s deception in “The Dragon and the Wolf”?
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau: That was it. That was the moment. She’s so cynical on a level that he doesn’t understand. You don’t give your word in front of the whole world and then just f**k ‘em. That’s too far. The fact is, yes there’s always been a lot of deceit, but Jaime is actually pretty straightforward when it comes to “walking the walk” and all that. He’s thinking, “You commit to something, and you’ve just seen this thing is real, what the hell…?” She takes it to a place that he can’t follow her to.
HBO: What finally makes him decide to walk away?
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau: She seems more or less willing to kill him, and he finally realizes that whatever he feels for her, it doesn’t go both ways. That whole thing of “We’re in this together,” well, we’re not quite in this together — because you’re not. We’re not playing the same game.
HBO: How did it feel doing that scene?
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau: I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time, I think that he’s seen her do crazy things before, but this is lying to everyone, and lying to him. You’ve got to go, “How much can this guy take before it becomes too much?” It was a great scene to shoot.
More from "The Dragon and the Wolf":
- Maisie Williams Thinks Arya Went Hunting for Trouble This Season
- The Cast Debriefs on the Union of Ice and Fire
- Did You Catch This Thrones Throwback from "The Dragon and the Wolf"?
- Text Revelations: See the Significant Letter and Diary from Episode 7
- To Dress a Queen: The Season 7 Costumes of Daenerys and Cersei
- Go Inside the Dragonpit with the GoT Cast and Crew