Fans still reeling from The Red Wedding one week later won't find much solace in Game of Thrones' season finale, according to star Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who tells me that Jamie's journey back to King's Landing yields rather unexpected results.
How will the now-engaged Cersei react to seeing her former lover/brother considering he's down one arm but plus one tall lady? That was the first of many questions I had for the actor during our chat!
ETonline: First of all, I know it didn't directly involve Jamie, but what did you think of The Red Wedding?
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau: It was intense. One of the most heartbreaking things for me was Arya being so close to her mother and brother to only have them killed. And Sansa too -- it's almost unbearable the pain these young women have to go through. I saw this video of all these book readers who taped their friends and family watching The Red Wedding. In a way, it was touching -- people are so involved and invested in these characters, so when they're suddenly killed off, it can be traumatic. But that's one of the things people love about the show. It bends the rules of what you can and can't do in telling a story.
ETonline: Does knowing the fans will mourn must, for the actors, make being killed off the show sting a little less?
Coster-Waldau: Absolutely. And, also, this show insists on being truthful to its own story. One could imagine a different show created by Dan [Weiss] and David [Benioff], that may not have played out like that. Sometimes the creators fall in love with a character who was intended to only be on for a season but keep them around longer. Here, you know, Michelle Fairley and Richard Madden, while outstanding, had to go. It's what serves the story. It's brutal, but that's what makes this an exciting show to be part of. And yes, when that time comes for Jaime, even though you don't want to go, it's still a cool thing because you know it's right for the show.
ETonline: How quickly does the news of Robb's murder reach King's Landing?
Coster-Waldau: Well, there's at least one Lannister who knows what happened -- he's known all along: Tywin. This was his masterplan. It was a horrible, brutal thing to do, but you could also argue that it's the end of the war now. People will no longer be killed as a result of this war. He saw a moment and took it. And maybe that's me having played a Lannister for too long, but I see it as one reason why he could be viewed as a great leader in history. It takes some time for the information to get back, and there are people at King's Landing who don't know and this might not be something they want to hear.
ETonline: The preview showed Jaime returning to King's Landing in the finale -- is it a happy homecoming?
Coster-Waldau: A lot of things have happened to this guy and he doesn't quite look like the young golden Lannister boy any more. There's a scene where he arrives in King's Landing and it's just standing in the streets. I thought that was so interesting because you only truly have power if someone gives you that power. You can't just say "I'm strong." Someone has to give it to you at some point. Here, you have a guy who is used to being at the top of the food chain, he's used to people reacting to his mere presence. Now, the reactions to his presence are so different. I love that some of these characters are forced to eat real big slices of humble pie. It's well-deserved and it's good for them.
ETonline: Obviously Cersei is a major motivation for Jaime to get back. Although she's now engaged to another man and he's lost an arm. How would you describe their reunion?
Coster-Waldau: Well, don't want to give that away, but I will say that it's not all happiness just because he's made it back. It's a whole different bag of problems. He's always felt like on a masculine level, he could defend his family -- that's different now. He can't. We saw him try and those men just played with him. It's a very complicated life he's coming back to. But things in Cersei's life are bad too. She's going to get married to Sir Loras, and while Jaime's been faithful to her, she hasn't to him. Cersei is so deep into this game and he's not.
ETonline: Plus, he's got Brienne now. Do you kind of see her as an antidote to Cersei in Jaime's life?
Coster-Waldau: Absolutely. He's met someone in Brienne who actually says what she means and is worthy of his trust. She's not playing an angle. He's never really had a relationship with a woman other than Cersei and I think meeting her might be more significant than losing his hand in terms of his growth.
Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on HBO.