Nikolaj Coster-Waldau's Jaime Lannister Is a Man of Action


HBO: Jaime ends the season on the road with Brienne. What is his appraisal of her?

NIKOLAJ COSTER-WALDAU: He's having fun, to be honest. He's trying to find her breaking point, but she's a cool, cool lady. I think it surprises him, how specific her loyalty is to Catelyn. Though it's absurd to him that she can see these victims of the Stark soldiers and say, "Nothing to do with me, I work for Lady Catelyn." But he does recognize that even though she's a woman, she's a soldier like he is. There's an order to things, and he understands that mind. He's also surprised when she springs into action and kills those men. She takes out these three guys in a heartbeat. Up until then, he was completely convinced that if he could get out of those handcuffs, that she would be gone, and he would be free.

HBO: What's fun about this for Jaime?

NIKOLAJ COSTER-WALDAU: It's just the relief of being out of prison. Also, he has that thing that's terribly annoying where he teases constantly -- and he enjoys it. It's not very far from his thoughts to his mouth. He doesn't censor himself, and he likes to see the reaction he gets when he says something horrible. All the things he says to Brienne are based in reality -- it's clear she's been the recipient of scorn and bullying her whole life, and he knows he can press those buttons.

HBO: Is it just his nature to treat people like that, or is it a calculation to manipulate them?

NIKOLAJ COSTER-WALDAU: I think it's instinct. In that last scene when he's been recaptured by the Starks and he's provoking Catelyn, he wants to get to that point where she has to make the call: Free him or kill him. He has to get out of there, and if doesn't get out, I think he'd rather have them kill him, because he just can't stand it anymore. Honestly I don't think he expected to ever get out of that camp.

HBO: He seems pretty comfortable with these all-or-nothing decisions ...

NIKOLAJ COSTER-WALDAU: Going all the way back to the first episode, pushing Bran out the window, Jaime's a man of action. If he'd had time, or his brother's pause for thought, he might have handled that differently -- but he didn't. In his world, sometimes you have to take a life to win something. It's the same thing with killing his distant cousin Alton. The fact is that once that kid came into the cell, there was no way he was coming out of there alive. If he'd helped Jaime escape, then the Starks would have killed him. For Jaime, it was just more efficient this way. I don't think he's a psychopath -- you just do what you have to do. And it's not like the kid was a close relative ... look, now I'm making excuses for him!

HBO: How do you reconcile that killer with the funny and likeable guy he is on the surface?

NIKOLAJ COSTER-WALDAU: I think it makes sense. I think there's a very dark place in him. When he says he's not afraid of dying, I think that's true. You look at his family and his father. He lost his mother at an early age and has been primed to be a soldier his whole life. I think those are reasons that he's so pragmatic with things. He also enjoys fighting, and he doesn't pretend not to. Sometimes I can very much understand him. For me, there's nothing worse than when people meet you and have all these preconceived opinions and claim to know you. That can really piss me off. And I know it's childish and silly, but I recognize that with Jaime. And for him, it's in extreme scale because he's got this stance as "Kingslayer" and "dishonorable" -- all these words.

HBO: Jaime's storyline has been a little hard on you this year -- What was it like to spend most of the season chained to stake?

NIKOLAJ COSTER-WALDAU: I actually had my birthday in prison. I think they have a picture of me getting my birthday cake while I was chained up. That was July 27, and then I remember shooting some other stuff in chains - and it was September. It was actually great, though, because there's something I love about not being able to use your physicality, when it's just your words and your eyes.

HBO: And your beard -- A lot of fans were excited to see you growing it out last year for this season.

NIKOLAJ COSTER-WALDAU: I love the beard. The only thing was that I was shooting another movie in Toronto, so I was eating a ton of E vitamins, saying, "Grow! Grow!" In the books, he cuts off his hair, too, so I've been watching out for that. I guess we'll see.