The latest Season 2 trailer for "Game of Thrones" gives us a peek at Jaime Lannister, who is locked up as a prisoner of the his enemies the Starks.
When I suggested to Nikolaj Coster-Waldau that his character is absent for most of George R.R. Martin's "A Clash of Kings," Book 2 of the series upon which the HBO show is based, he wouldn't reveal if the show's creators, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, have found a way to give us as much of the reviled Kingslayer in Season 2 as we saw in Season 1.
"I will be absent for a while, but I can't tell you what happens!" the Danish actor told me during San Diego Comic-Con in July, the day before he was to fly to Belfast to begin filming Season 2. "I will be in the season."
With Tuesday's release of the "Game of Thrones" Season 1 DVD and Blu-ray, I thought it was a good time to share the actor's thoughts on his character, his approach to playing the villain, what it was like acting with children and whether he thought the "fantasy" series would even be successful.
The video above captures the bulk of our interview, but we were interrupted by loud music in the cabana at San Diego's Hard Rock Hotel, so I added the QA below. And be warned if you've never seen "Game of Thrones:" The video and the text below contain Season 1 spoilers.
Oh, and Coster-Waldau, who is quite funny in the video, is sporting the start of the beard we'll see on Jaime this season. "They won't allow me to shave," he cracked.
Had you read "Game of Thrones" before getting the call?
No, no. The first thing I heard about it was, I got a meeting with Dan and David and Carolyn Strauss where they kind of explained the whole world, the whole premise of the show and their vision of it, if you will. Of course, it's very difficult to explain before you even started to shoot it. But it was fascinating. And I remembered they told me about of Jaime, they described this character and after awhile somebody goes, "Oh, by the way, he has this very complex relationship with his sister."
No, that's cool, [I thought]. "His twin sister and they're lovers." And I go. "They're what? Lovers? Oh great." And then I thought, no, that is really great.
Nice. Who's playing her, right?
[Laughs.] Yeah. But then I read the pilot script. And then when we got to the last scene, I was so excited because I thought, that is such a horrible thing that happens. And it's so disturbing and it's so shocking, but to get a chance to play someone, and also because I know what happens later on, well you start out in that really dark corner, that's thrilling.
So no, I read the novel after. I read the novel after and of course, it's great to read the books because there's so much more in there that you simply can't have in the show, there's no time for it. But I was glad that I read the scripts first because that's what we're doing. Because sometimes I've tried the other way where you've read the book and then you go, "Oh, and then this happens and that happens," and when you read the script and you kind of go, "That was a great scene and I went the other way. Oh no."
I'm happy that it happened that way because I fell in love with the pilot script and that world.
Do you also fear that if you read the source material before shooting it might change your approach to the thing?
Sometimes, yeah, But this case they're very faithful. The way I imagined Jaime and the way they imagine him is the same. It's all about serving the book. It is. There is so much respect and love for George R.R. Martin's novels. And they are amazing. And so I think it's at the highest priority to stay true to that.
Are you going to read the rest of them?
Yeah. I mean, I have them. I have to be honest, the last one came out and I've been trying to get Dan and David to tell me what happens, and they're very good at keeping secrets. And then I have a Kindle, so I just flick to the Jaime chapter [laughs]. OK, good.
You talked a little bit about Jaime's dad and that relationship. The scene where Charles Dance guts the stag, wow.
Yeah, it's a great scene. Again, it's one of those jobs were you get great scenes. We have this ridiculous amount of brilliant actors and actresses. And any scene, I mean, I feel very lucky. I had some great scenes with Sean, with Charles, with Michelle. Just to try and match their skill is a thrill.
Jaime became such a child in that scene.
Well I think that's what we wanted to get from that scene. Of course it's an introduction of the head of the family. This is the first time you see Tywin. But also, I think you understand that to have him as your father may not have been the easiest experience as a kid. He's so tough; he brings the term "tough love" to a whole different level.
But also, Jaime is the son. I think most sons have had somewhat complicated relationships with your father, or not. But anyway, he had a very complicated relationship, but he loves his father. He admires his father. He wishes he could live up to his father's expectations, but he has been a failure in that regard because he's not going to take over the mantle because he joined the King's Corps. Which pisses his father off. And because I don't think his father knows about the relationship between his daughter and son. I'm sure he doesn't know that.
And then you have someone like Charles Dance who just comes in there and does this brilliant work. It was a lot of fun to do and just to work with him, he is just so specific. It's just good acting.
We talked about Jaime's relationship with Tyrion. You say they do like each other.
I think they love each other.
Even though there's a little bit of competition.
Yeah, but I think they're both outcasts in a way. Even though like when you see them, just the visual, you have Tyrion, who has physical disadvantage in life. His brother is just this big strong knight, but I think emotionally Jaime is more broken than Tyrion is. And so they relate and they understand each other that way.
Did you expect "Games of Thrones" to get as big as it has?
I'm surprised that it caught on like it did. I mean, to get nominated for an Emmy as a drama series--I'd have never guessed it in a million years. Don't get me wrong, I think it's a great, great show. They've had to do so much work and the publicity department has been amazing in educating an audience. Because I think, I would say 90 percent of my friends, I would say "fantasy," they go, "No way. Absolutely not."
My co-workers were the same way.
Well that's the thing, isn't it? And then the fact that it works. I'm so grateful that it happened, but it's one of those things that surprises. It's the timing, I guess.
Did you like working in the costumes and being immersed in that world physically?
Yeah, I mean the thing about this show is that it is so well crafted. To see the sets and the costumes and all the detail. We have scenes where we had to eat and the food they brought in was made from original recipes from the Middle Ages. And you can eat it. And shooting it was like a big traveling circus. We were all over the place. But you kind of have to ignore the fact you're a 41-year-old man who's all dressed up and just be in the moment when you're acting.
What was your most demanding scene?
The fight with Sean Bean [who played Ned Stark] was great. We shot that in Malta over a couple days in this beautiful square in Medina. It was great, but it was sweaty.