Like some of you, I never read any of George R.R. Martin's Game of Thrones tomes, which means every twist, turn and take-down on HBO's thrilling adaptation comes as a total and complete shock to me.
So you can imagine how slacked my jaw was when Sunday's episode ended with Locke (Vargo Hoat in the books) chopping off Jaime Lannister's hand! It was the most severe severing since Ned Stark's season one decapitation, so naturally I had to chat with star Nikolaj Coster-Waldau about this significant turn of events, how it affects his character moving forward and what the future holds for Jaime and Brienne!
ETonline: The series has taken some liberties with the books and ignored some plotlines, so what was your reaction to finding out that Jaime would indeed lose his hand on the show?
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau: It was one of the things I was most looking forward to. We talked about it at the first meeting before we even shot the pilot. When they told me about Jaime's arc, they said, "He's got a great first season and he's hardly in season 2 but then it gets really good in season three. We knew from day one that he'd lose his hand. It's what defines him from this point forward. It's how he identifies himself and has always been the one thing about Jaime that had nothing to do with being a Lannister. He's the Kingslayer but he no longer sees himself as Jaime Lannister, the greatest swordsman in Westeros. He's not even an average swordsman. He's not able to defend himself and that's just horrible for him ... but it's interesting to me [laughs].
ETonline: Jaime has always been incredible at reading people, so why do you think he played the situation with Locke so wrong?
Coster-Waldau: I think all along Jaime knew he was in danger, but he believed he was worth more alive than dead. If Locke killed him, he knew there would be no mercy from the Lannister family. He was leverage and someone they could have used as a bargaining tool. But then Jaime put sapphires in Locke's eyes and made Brienne the more valuable one. Ultimately his cockiness was his downfall. Now, Jaime knows they don't care if he dies because his lie made Brienne the most valuable person to Locke, which is such a crazy twist that he didn't anticipate. I always liked that Jaime's greatest strength was his ability to read people and see their weaknesses. He did it with Catelyn Stark and he did it with Ned Stark, but with Locke, he couldn't read him right. All Locke saw was a horrible, upperclass, entitled prick.
ETonline: Why do you think Jaime saved Brienne from being raped by Locke's men?
Coster-Waldau: Well, the biggest change for him -- before the hand chop [laughs] -- was his relationship with Brienne. She surprised him over and over. When they were on the bridge, she said, "If you don't kill me, I'm going to kill you." And of course he can't kill her, she's too good, she's too strong. And on top of that, she doesn't kill him because she's a woman of her word. It puzzles him and I think it mirrors something deep inside of him that has to do with the fundamentals of how you behave with other people. She's so earnest and naive in many ways, but she's also just and fair and he respects that. I don't think he knows it on a conscious level, but he's beginning to care for her in a really big way.
ETonline: Looking at the upcoming episodes, will Jaime care less about his survival now that he's lost the hand?
Coster-Waldau: Yep. I don't want to spoil anything but I think that should be expected. The opening shot of next week's episode is one of my favorites. It's horrible, but it's very much what you just described.
ETonline: I'm also more interested in Jaime's reunion with Cersei now that he's lost something so essential to his magnetism. Does that possibility intrigue you more now as well?
Coster-Waldau: Yeah, absolutely. They have had very different experiences over the last two seasons, so if they meet again, they will be much different people than they were. It will be interesting to see. I hope they meet.
ETonline: What are you excited for fans to see as season three plays out?
Coster-Waldau: One of the things Jaime has had to deal with is people's preconceived ideas about him. He is the Kingslayer, he killed the man he was supposed to protect, so clearly he's a bad person. But I'm looking forward to seeing how people start to view him. I hope people have a better understanding of him and are a little more forgiving. Look, there's no excuse for trying to kill an innocent kid -- and Jaime might even push the kid out the window again if faced with the same situation -- but you understand he did those things to save his kid and Cersei. This world is very brutal and if Bran told anyone what he saw, Cersei would be dead, Jaime would be dead, the kid would be dead. But there are other things we'll learn about that ... well, now I’m going into spoiler world. It’s going to be interesting to see what people think of him in a couple episodes because after [the pilot], you had no question that he was the bad guy. But after the next five episodes, you'll think about taking him out of that box and finding a new box.
Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on HBO.