Nikolaj Coster-Waldau breaks down the always-complicated Jaime Lannister and his decision to return to King’s Landing to be with Cersei.
HBO: Jaime seems to have a potential happy ending with Brienne. How do you feel about his decision to leave her?
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau: In a different world, Jaime would’ve stayed with Brienne. What he has with Brienne is something different — it’s a very pure, innocent love. There is a part of him that wishes he could not be who he is. It’s one of those things we do in Game of Thrones. You have this idea of what you want these characters to do — it’s supposed to end well for these two, they’ve been through so much together — but that’s not how it goes. The most extreme of all these scenes is a couple seasons back, when Myrcella tells Jaime she knows he’s her father and she’s glad he is. He has this moment of happiness, and then the second after she dies in his arms.
Gwendoline [Christie, who plays Brienne] was so moving in that scene. She did an amazing job of conveying that Brienne had finally found happiness she’s never had, and it’s just taken away from her in a brutal way. It’s very true to who these characters are. His staying in Winterfell is unrealistic. Cersei is the most important person in his life, whether he wants her to be or not. The idea that he was going to just let her die alone, is too horrible for him. He asks Brienne: “Have you ever walked away from a fight?” There’s no option for him, he has to go to Cersei. Ramsay Bolton said it best: “If you think this has a happy ending, you haven’t been paying attention.”
HBO: Is there a turning point for Jaime where he decides to return to Cersei?
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau: Bronn appears and Jaime realizes he was sent there by Cersei to kill him and Tyrion — it’s this strange reality check. Cersei has a way of making sure you don’t forget about her. That act is such an extreme thing. I don’t think Jaime believes Bronn is going to kill them; because Bronn is a businessman.
Then Sansa says, “I always wanted to be there when they execute your sister.” He knows that Cersei’s provoked Daenerys so much, and she’s underestimated her enemy — usually Cersei’s the one people underestimate. His whole life has been about trying to protect Cersei, and trying to be close to her. He loves her — it's unconditional love, it’s so ingrained in him. Jaime and Bronn were together when the Lannister army was attacked by the dragons — they saw first hand what Dany can do. If you go against dragons you are going to die.
HBO: I have to ask about the fight with Euron (Pilou Asbæk). What was it like filming that fight?
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau: That was last scene I filmed, and it was the perfect way to go out. Pilou [Asbæk] is a great friend, and he brought his A-game. We tried to make it as brutal as we could, and it was a painful few days. [Director] Miguel [Sapochnik] was driven to make this a great fight. It’s more than life or death for Jaime — it would be too cruel if he didn’t make it to Cersei. There are beats where I hope people think, “Sh*t, he isn’t going to make it.”
HBO: That final scene between Cersei and Jaime is so emotional. How was it filming your last scene with Lena Headey?
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau: Bronn asks him, “How do you want to go?” Jaime says: “In the arms of the woman I love.” That is where he dies. That scene had so much weight. It was a big deal to have these characters die — it’s such an end. I love working with Lena and we always had such an amazing experience together. l look back at what she has done on this show and it’s amazing.
The whole world is falling down around them; it’s a poetic thing. When we were done filming, it was so emotional — more so than my last scene. My hope for those final moments between Cersei and Jaime, is that even though people want her dead, it still leaves a sour taste in their mouth.
The final episode of Game of Thrones premieres Sunday at 9 pm.
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