Euron Greyjoy actor Pilou Asbæk sat down to chat with HBO about “The Bells” — including that brutal fight with the Kingslayer himself.
HBO: Why did Euron’s story culminate in a showdown with Jaime Lannister?
Pilou Asbæk: [Creators] David [Benioff] and Dan [Weiss] thought it would be more interesting if it was between Jaime [played by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau] and Euron rather than the Greyjoys. Everyone expected it would be me versus Theon, but Theon’s story is much bigger than that. He needs to redeem himself, and having him do that in “The Long Night” was a much better storyline than doing something with me. And Jaime’s character needed to be pushed. He needed as many obstacles as possible — and that’s why Dan and David threw Euron into the mix, so his journey back to Cersei would be even tougher. So I was playing my part to fulfill that goal, but also adding my own color to the big palette.
HBO: What was it like getting to duke it out with Nikolaj?
Pilou Asbæk: That was a great sequence. Two men enter one man leaves. It’s always wonderful to do physical scenes, especially with Nikolaj because he is a very fit guy, so we could really go for it...and we really went for it in that scene. We took the time to film it over a few days, and it was fun.
It was actually Nikolaj’s last day on set so it was a very emotional thing when it all ended for him. I’m just happy and proud that as a fellow Dane I could be there to celebrate with him on his last day on Game of Thrones.
HBO: We’ve spoken about how Euron is a unique kind of villain on this show — a bit more “go with the flow”...
Pilou Asbæk: Yes. He’s very “just go with it.” He kills a dragon in “The Last of the Starks,” which was so fun, and then in “The Bells” his fleet burns and he doesn’t give a shit. He’s just a survivor. Life goes on — things come and they go.
But you also know the biggest twist of Season 8 is Daenerys — the person we’ve been cheering for — ends up destroying so much, and Cersei ends up being pathetic and sad. It turns everything about heroes and villains upside down. And that’s why Game of Thrones is such a magical land, that’s why it’s so beautiful and powerful.
HBO: What do you think about how your character goes out?
Pilou Asbæk: I had a long conversation with [director] Miguel Sapochnik about it. Dan and David were like, “and then Euron dies” and I was like, “No he doesn’t.” And they said, “What do you mean?” I said, “I’m not going to close my eyes. I want to smile up at the sky like life is beautiful, and then you guys have to cut away.” Miguel kept saying, “Close your eyes!” but I was like, “No.”
Everyone else has a terrible death, or are in a position of, “OK, the world has burned down and now I have to rebuild it.” Euron isn’t. He’s just like, “Yay, I killed the Kingslayer! I’m going to go into history.” I’m the only one with a real happy ending.
Read Pilou Asbæk’s “Winterfell” interview here. The series finale of Game of Thrones premieres Sunday at 9 pm.
See more from “The Bells’: