HBO’s epic masterpiece Game of Thrones is back for Season 3, with bigger battles, devastating betrayals and more deaths, as everyone fights for control of the Iron Throne. Now that magic is growing stronger and the dragons have been let loose, there’s no telling who might be in jeopardy or in power next.
At the show’s press day, co-stars Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (“Jaime Lannister”) and Gwendoline Christie (“Brienne of Tarth”) talked about the evolution of Jaime Lannister, the similarities between Jaime and Brienne, whether they can develop a mutual respect for each other, how their sword-fighting skills are growing, whether Jaime feels as though he needs redemption, who they’d each like to have scenes with in the future, and experiencing the intense fandom in America. Check out what they had to say after the jump, and be aware that there are some spoilers.
NIKOLAJ COSTER-WALDAU: Well, I like the fact that he refuses to bend under pressure, if you will. I don’t think it’s about being a powerful man. It’s just about not making excuses for who you are. He’s been around. He knows that it wouldn’t make a difference, if he started begging Robb Stark for mercy. He wouldn’t care. What I like about Jaime is that he always uses his mind and his words to look for weaknesses in people. In many ways, he’s even better at that than he is with his sword. He understands the situations and he reads them really well. It’s a war. He’s the enemy to them, so he can’t trust them. He doesn’t trust anyone.
When were the two of you first introduced to each other, professionally?
GWENDOLINE CHRISTIE: Well, I heard that Nikolaj was on the set, filming a different scene, and he was in the make-up truck. So, I went there to introduce myself and shake his hand, and he just sat there, very loosely in the chair, and just went, “Hi,” and sized me up. I felt really uncomfortable and thought, “Well, this is a bit shakey, but I’ll accept it and go with that.”
COSTER-WALDAU: That’s not how I recall it, at all.
CHRISTIE: Then, he just started to antagonize me.
CHRISTIE: Before there would be a take, he would try to put me off.
COSTER-WALDAU: Gwen, god, you have to get out of that fantasy world! What really happened was that I found this broken woman. She wasn’t in tears, but she was so insecure and scared and afraid of the work. I said, “Listen, we’re just actors. We need to bond. We need to spend some time together. You shouldn’t be afraid.”
CHRISTIE: Nikolaj takes 10% of my income and is my guru.
COSTER-WALDAU: No, that’s not true. I wouldn’t do that. You do get to bring me coffee, but that was because you like to.
CHRISTIE: And I carry your handbag.
COSTER-WALDAU: No. The scenes they have, he’s being so rude all the time, so we tested that. She’s very good at being rude. So, we’re just doing that, all the time, and it can be very draining to other people around us because they think that we really dislike each other. But, we might as well have fun.
How do your characters see each other, at the beginning of the season, and how does that evolve?
COSTER-WALDAU: Well, it’s difficult to talk about how it evolves because that would be giving away information. In the beginning of the season, Jaime is focused on getting out of [his situation]. On their way to King’s Landing, he doesn’t trust that Brienne will be able to get him there safely, and he believes that he has to get out of this situation and make his own way, so he will do anything to get out of it. The way he does it of, course, is the way he knows best, which is to try to provoke her into losing it, basically. But, she’s very stubborn. It’s very difficult. He’s seen glimpses, in the end of Season 2, where she surprised him and showed that she was quite good with a sword. But, he’s still very confident that he can take her out, and that’s what he’s going to do, in the beginning of the show. Then, of course in broad terms, that plan might not work out. Things might change, and they might be forced to spend a lot of time together. I don’t want to talk about it because it gives away what happens, but he gets to know her better and there are surprises in that relationship.
COSTER-WALDAU: What was difficult was, when we did the scenes, she had to work so hard to get rid of her private personal respect for me. That took a while.
CHRISTIE: I don’t think he’s well. I think he’s having a psychotic episode. No. I think when we see the two of them together, she has no respect for him, both on screen or off. No. She doesn’t have any reason [to have respect for him]. He has defied the Knight’s Code, which Brienne has strived so hard, as a woman, to adhere to and to try to be taken seriously, as a knight, and to attain physical strength.
So, the’s a bear in the footage in the Season 3 trailer. What was the bear like to work with?
CHRISTIE: As far as I’m aware, there’s a shot of a bear, but I don’t see anyone else with the bear. It’s just a shot of a bear that looks like it could be real.
If you’re fighting a bear, do you have anything to work with?
CHRISTIE: Why would I do that?
I think some people have an idea what’s going to happen with the bear.
COSTER-WALDAU: But, most people don’t, so we can’t talk about that.
CHRISTIE: A lot of people wouldn’t make any connection.
COSTER-WALDAU: It’s a big thing, so we don’t want to give anything away.
CHRISTIE: It’s difficult because people feel so passionately about the show, and you don’t want to spoil anything.
COSTER-WALDAU: What amazes me, because there are so many fans and there are so many readers of these books, is the fact that people are so loyal to keeping the secrets. You go on these fansites and, obviously, so many people know what’s going to happen, but they are very good at saying, “Okay, spoiler alert,” or “Don’t read this if . . .” For us to then go ahead and say, “Yeah, we do this and this happens,” would be really stupid. So, that’s why we’re not going to answer any bear questions.
COSTER-WALDAU: Gwen is amazing at sword-fighting. She really is.
What sort of training did you do?
CHRISTIE: They gave me lessons. They were brilliant. They were incredibly supportive. I knew this was a part that would have lots and lots of sword-fighting, and I was also aware that Nikolaj is naturally very good and has done it before. Not only did I want for the character to be as good as possible, but I also didn’t want to let down my fellow actor. So, there were those two things at work. And then, there was just the plain, good, old-fashioned rivalry that I wanted to beat his ass, so I trained for a long time. He learned it in two hours over Skype. It took me two weeks.
COSTER-WALDAU: She’s really good.
COSTER-WALDAU: No, I don’t think he needs redemption. In a way, there are similarities with [Jaime and Brienne]. Whenever they walk into a room, everyone has preconceived opinions about who they are. That scene when Brienne killed those guards last season, as soon as they saw her, they were just laughing because that’s ridiculous – there’s a woman and a knight. For him, it’s, “Oh, the King Slayer, he can’t be trusted.” He doesn’t feel the need to make any excuses for who he is. It really annoys him that he’s got this reputation, which he believes, deep down at the very core, is very unjust. But, having said that, he’s not proud of some of the things he’s done, of course. Pushing Bran out a window was a horrible thing to do. At the same time, he felt – and I think he still feels – that it needed to be done to save his own kids and Cersei and himself.
What do you enjoy about playing Jaime?
COSTER- WALDAU: Jaime is such a well-written character. To be honest, I wouldn’t want to play any other character. It’s such a great part. I remember when I read the pilot script, and I read that last scene where he pushes Bran out the window, and then he says, “The things I do for love,” those two actions are so powerful. It’s very interesting. How could you use the word love, and try to kill an innocent kid? When you start there, you have so much room. His journey is interesting, and he interesting.
People who haven’t read the books don’t know Jaime becomes a sympathetic character. How do you feel about that?
COSTER-WALDAU: The funny thing is that he does change. Of course, we all change, and he does change, but there’s also that whole truth that we meet him right in a very dark moment, in his life. If we’d had 10 episodes with him, where he was just trying to deal with being in love with this woman, maybe we would have built up sympathy and understand what he did to Bran, but we didn’t have that. But, what’s great with a television show – because in a movie you usually have one or two characters, and the rest are just supporting – is that we actually get to know these people and spend a lot of time with them. With Jaime, we discover that there is more to him than meets the eye.
On a show where storylines are so separate, and you two are on your own, is it interesting to then see the other storylines on the show?
COSTER-WALDAU: It’s thrilling because you know the other actors. Daenerys’ storyline is just so amazing, and what they do with the CGI work is quite extraordinary to watch. I’ve never been in a film or television show where I could actually sit down and watch it and just enjoy it, but I can with this one.
CHRISTIE: I’d like to have some scenes with Cersei because I think that they are two totally opposing character types, and the anti-thesis of each other. You don’t have any preconceived ideas or any notion of what that scene would be and how that would play. I also think Lena’s a brilliant actress.
COSTER-WALDAU: I think I would like to have a scene with the new king, Joffrey, [played by] Jack Gleeson. I think he’s just an amazing actor. He does such a fantastic job. But also, of course, because of these issues that they have. Jaime knows the truth. He knows that this is his son, this little creep of a monster. I think that would be interesting.
Being in the United States, are you experiencing the fandom more intensely?
CHRISTIE: Yes, definitely!
COSTER-WALDAU: Absolutely, yeah!
CHRISTIE: In the U.K., not everybody has Sky, so they have to wait until they can buy the DVD to watch it. It seems to be that people have greater access here. It’s overwhelming, how passionate people are about it. They’re very demonstrative, and it’s very touching. It’s great, as an actor, to be in anything that people actually like, and a rarity.
Nikolaj, what has your trajectory been like, as a result of this show?
COSTER-WALDAU: There’s no question that it’s been great. It’s one of those things where, as they say, “When it rains, it pours.” I’ve been very lucky, in that the first two seasons allowed me to do other work, at the same time. During Season 1, I also shot a movie called Headhunters in Norway, which was a great experience and it turned out really well, with a great director. It was really successful. And last season, I got to shoot the movie Mama, and that did really well. It’s miraculous that these things actually are seen by people. That’s unusual in my career, unfortunately. It doesn’t hurt to be in Game of Thrones, that’s for sure, mainly because people actually see your work, and that is great. Careerwise, I’ve just been lucky.
Game of Thrones returns for Season 3 on HBO on March 31st.