Jaime Lannister

played by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau

Cersei's twin brother.

Character Bio

Cersei's twin brother and the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, it was he who slew the Mad King in violation of his oath to protect the royal family. After Jaime was captured by Catelyn Stark, Brienne of Tarth escorted him back to King's Landing. Jaime lost his sword hand to Roose Bolton's henchman, Locke, along the way.

Bio

A graduate of the prestigious National Theater School in Denmark, international actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau has created a strong foothold in Hollywood.

After leaving his handprint on the European Film and Television industry, Coster-Waldau quickly made his transition to American cinema. In 2001, he began his U.S. career with a starring role in Ridley Scott's critically acclaimed and Academy award-winning 'Black Hawk Down.' Following, he landed a lead role in Michael Apted's 'Enigma' co-starring Kate Winslet, Dougray Scott and Saffron Burrows. 

Ridley Scott brought Coster-Waldau back for his 2005 epic film 'Kingdom of Heaven' starring Orlando Bloom, Liam Neeson and Eva Green. Additionally, Richard Loncraine, who first cast Coster-Waldau in his 2004 film 'Wimbledon' alongside Paul Bettany and Kirsten Dunst, brought him back for 'Firewall,' a thriller starring Harrison Ford.

In 2008, Coster-Waldau made his series debut in the Fox drama, 'New Amsterdam,' playing immortal detective John Amsterdam and was singled out by many as one of the season's breakout stars. He was then seen in Fox's 'Virtuality,' directed by Peter Berg and produced by Gail Berman & Lloyd Braun.

In 2009, he co-starred opposite Ulrich Thomsen in 'Blekingegade,' a high-profile Danish TV2 miniseries event, based on Denmark's highest profile criminal gang, for TV2 and Zentropa Films. The first of the five episodes gave TV2 its highest ratings for 2009.

Earlier this year, Coster-Waldau completed shooting on Oscar winning writer Mateo Gil's directorial debut, 'Blackthorn,' opposite Sam Shepard, Stephen Rea and Eduardo Noriega. The film, a follow up to 'Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,' follows an older Cassidy living incognito in Bolivia, planning his last big heist.

Coster-Waldau also completed 'Headhunters,' based on the bestselling writer Jo Nesbø's most recent novel of the same name, which won the Norwegian Book Club Prize for Novel of the Year in 2008. The film, directed by award winning director Morten Tyldym, produced by Yellow Bird ('Girl With the Dragon Tattoo' series) is a thriller set in the world of art theft. Coster-Waldau stars opposite Aksel Hennie.

Born and raised in Denmark, Coster-Waldau's other credits include leading roles in the films 'Night Watch,' 'Vildspor' (Wildshot), which he also co-wrote, 'Misery Harbours,' 'Foreign Fields,' '24 Hours in the Life of a Woman,' 'Rembrandt' and 'Manden Bag Døren.'

Coster-Waldau resides in Denmark.

Interview With Nikolaj Coster-Waldau

HBO

Jaime ends the season on the road with Brienne. What is his appraisal of her?

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau

He's having fun, to be honest. He's trying to find her breaking point, but she's a cool, cool lady. I think it surprises him, how specific her loyalty is to Catelyn. Though it's absurd to him that she can see these victims of the Stark soldiers and say, "Nothing to do with me, I work for Lady Catelyn." But he does recognize that even though she's a woman, she's a soldier like he is. There's an order to things, and he understands that mind. He's also surprised when she springs into action and kills those men. She takes out these three guys in a heartbeat. Up until then, he was completely convinced that if he could get out of those handcuffs, that she would be gone, and he would be free.

HBO

What's fun about this for Jaime?

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau

It's just the relief of being out of prison. Also, he has that thing that's terribly annoying where he teases constantly -- and he enjoys it. It's not very far from his thoughts to his mouth. He doesn't censor himself, and he likes to see the reaction he gets when he says something horrible. All the things he says to Brienne are based in reality -- it's clear she's been the recipient of scorn and bullying her whole life, and he knows he can press those buttons.

HBO

Is it just his nature to treat people like that, or is it a calculation to manipulate them?

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau

I think it's instinct. In that last scene when he's been recaptured by the Starks and he's provoking Catelyn, he wants to get to that point where she has to make the call: Free him or kill him. He has to get out of there, and if doesn't get out, I think he'd rather have them kill him, because he just can't stand it anymore. Honestly I don't think he expected to ever get out of that camp.

HBO

He seems pretty comfortable with these all-or-nothing decisions ...

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau

Going all the way back to the first episode, pushing Bran out the window, Jaime's a man of action. If he'd had time, or his brother's pause for thought, he might have handled that differently -- but he didn't. In his world, sometimes you have to take a life to win something. It's the same thing with killing his distant cousin Alton. The fact is that once that kid came into the cell, there was no way he was coming out of there alive. If he'd helped Jaime escape, then the Starks would have killed him. For Jaime, it was just more efficient this way. I don't think he's a psychopath -- you just do what you have to do. And it's not like the kid was a close relative ... look, now I'm making excuses for him!

HBO

How do you reconcile that killer with the funny and likeable guy he is on the surface?

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau

I think it makes sense. I think there's a very dark place in him. When he says he's not afraid of dying, I think that's true. You look at his family and his father. He lost his mother at an early age and has been primed to be a soldier his whole life. I think those are reasons that he's so pragmatic with things. He also enjoys fighting, and he doesn't pretend not to. Sometimes I can very much understand him. For me, there's nothing worse than when people meet you and have all these preconceived opinions and claim to know you. That can really piss me off. And I know it's childish and silly, but I recognize that with Jaime. And for him, it's in extreme scale because he's got this stance as "Kingslayer" and "dishonorable" -- all these words.

HBO

Jaime's storyline has been a little hard on you this year -- What was it like to spend most of the season chained to stake?

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau

I actually had my birthday in prison. I think they have a picture of me getting my birthday cake while I was chained up. That was July 27, and then I remember shooting some other stuff in chains - and it was September. It was actually great, though, because there's something I love about not being able to use your physicality, when it's just your words and your eyes.

HBO

And your beard -- A lot of fans were excited to see you growing it out last year for this season.

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau

I love the beard. The only thing was that I was shooting another movie in Toronto, so I was eating a ton of E vitamins, saying, "Grow! Grow!" In the books, he cuts off his hair, too, so I've been watching out for that. I guess we'll see.

Interview With Nikolaj Coster-Waldau

HBO

What attracts Jaime to Brienne? Why does he trust her?

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau

She has proven herself from the first scene they had together in the end of Season 2 when she kills the Stark men. He did not expect that. She's demonstrated that she's a very capable fighter and she's clearly a woman of her word. She lives by a code that Jaime also believes, but he's become a very cynical person. He's learned that all these beautiful words like "honor" and "dignity" don't mean anything in this world. Then he meets someone who says, "Well, I don't care because that's how I am. I have to stand up for what I believe is right." Which is what Brienne does, she reaffirms there's a place for dignity... I think it reawakens something inside of him. He just knows she can be trusted, it's instinctual.

HBO

Is that why he tells her the truth about killing the Mad King?

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau

I think he's been dying to get it out, but he's never met anyone where he's felt that it would make sense. I'm sure he would want to tell Tyrion, but his brother is very cynical. For someone to open up, there has to be room for it. In a weird way, Brienne gives him that space that no one else does.

HBO

What compels Jaime to jump into the pit with the bear?

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau

I think it's pure instinct, and it's really stupid because the odds are they're both going to get killed. But there are so many layers why it's wrong, he acts. He just can't stand that a woman that has so much dignity should be degraded that way—given a wooden sword while everyone's just standing there watching.

HBO

What was it like filming that scene?

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau

Oh, it took a long time. We shot it twice. In October last year we shot in Belfast with the crowd and the wire work involved with getting out of the pit. Then in January we went to California and we shot it with Bart the Bear II. What you see in the scene is a real bear—it's not a CGI thing, it's a live bear, an actor, kind of a diva I have to say... They built half the pit on a soundstage, and we shot Bart's close-ups, if you will.

HBO

Jaime's had moments of pure evil and also powerful redemption; can you pick one that's been your favorite to play?

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau

I think the bath scene would be the favorite, it was the hardest by far, but also it was a special day in many ways. Bryan Cogman, who wrote the script, together with Dan [Weiss] and David [Benioff], did an amazing job. Alex Graves, the director, shot it beautifully and I really liked working with him. And of course, the most important element is Gwendolyn Christie's work as Brienne, which is what sells the scene because she gives it a beautiful, subtle reaction and guides the audience through the emotional depth of the story.

HBO

Tywin Lannister values legacy above all else, while Cersei puts her family first. What does Jaime value?

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau

Even though Tywin is such a tyrant, he is Jaime's dad and Jaime loves him. In the bath scene, he reveals that the Mad King demanded Jaime bring him his father's head and he was horrified. You could say, he's a member of the Kingsguard, that should mean more than anything, but I do believe that blood runs thick in the Lannisters.

Of course, he's been away from King's Landing for a while and I can't wait until he gets back because so much has changed. Tywin says to him at the end of Season 1, "I want you to become the man you were always meant to be." But I'm not sure Jaime shares Tywin's vision of his future. What happened with his sword hand and the experience of meeting Brienne of Tarth definitely had a huge impact on him. He's been defined by his family name, being the Kingslayer and his impossible love for Cersei. Now he's at a point in his life where he's revaluating who he is. I don't think Jaime's too worried about legacy—honor and being true to himself are what's important to him now.

HBO

How has the fan reaction been?

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau

The funny thing is that even when people tell me, "He's horrible! What an evil man!" they still say it with a big smile, because they enjoy watching Jaime, which I'm so grateful for. That's a testament to the great writing because he still funny and entertaining—he shares his brother's wit. It's also in part because the whole writing and storytelling that's based on George [R.R. Martin]'s books is never just black and white. Even when Jaime was at his most horrible, there are open doors that you can sneak into. You get a sense that there's more to him.

Think Fast
HBO

Which character do you admire the most?

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau

Brienne of Tarth. I'm biased, but she keeps it together.

HBO

Do you have a favorite prop?

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau

I don't have a favorite prop. I'm going to miss my sword, that's for sure. I still have my hand, which I get to wear as a necklace. 

HBO

Which character or being scares you the most? 

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau

Melisandre the Red priestess—she's a scary woman. There's also something about that type of power that Daenerys has. Most people believe she's doing the right thing, but she's burning people alive. She's got a chip on her shoulder. I don't want her to come across the Narrow Sea. She's going to burn thousands and thousands and thousands of people and have that self-righteous smirk on her face the whole time.

HBO

The night is dark and full of _________.

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau

Bart the Bear II.