Game of Thrones’ Nikolaj Coster-Waldau on Jaime’s Journey and Why Cersei Should Be Queen

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Photo: Robin Marchant/Getty Images

Spoilers ahead for the most recent episode of Game of Thrones.

After Cersei receives a snake with a Lannister necklace in its mouth and interprets it to be a threat against her daughter, Myrcella, Jaime packs his bags and heads off on a rescue mission to Dorne, with his new BFF Bronn in tow (and his golden hand finally proves useful in a fight). Nikolaj Coster-Waldau chatted with Vulture about Jaime’s journey, why Cersei and Jaime should break up, and getting sand in some sensitive places.

Jaime is finally stepping up and being a dad to his daughter, even if he can barely acknowledge that Myrcella is his daughter.
That's the thing. I think we saw in the scene with Cersei, that was the first time ever that he says, "This is my daughter. I'm going to save her. I'm going to help." It's all about him claiming responsibility. Tywin once told him, "I want you to become the man you were meant to be." He's clearly not the man Tywin wanted him to be, but this is the man he is. Part of that includes taking responsibility for your actions, because the fact is, he's the father of these three children.

Two, now.
Two, now. [Laughs.] But he's trying to do the right thing in a very complicated family. Think about it. Their mother died in labor, when Tyrion came along. Their father tried to kill the baby, hated the baby. It's a very cold, cold family. And despite this, Jaime will do anything for his family, which is why he is beyond devastated that Tyrion killed Tywin. And Jaime loved Tyrion. But this just goes against everything that he holds dear. The fundamental value in their life is, you know, the things you do for love.

That's the line he says after pushing Bran Stark out the window, after Bran sees the twincest.
It's not like he doesn't know it's a horrible act. He knows. But he also knows it's necessary. You can't allow this kid to walk away. But the thing is, with Jaime, he doesn't necessarily think it through. Bran is clearly a major player now. I think he's going to play a major, major part in the endgame of Game of Thrones. I don't know how this is going to play out, but I just think this was the whole thing that started the show, Bran being crippled like this. And clearly he now has these spiritual, supernatural powers as a result!

So he has you to thank?
Yes! Now, the question is, should they ever meet, would Bran thank Jaime? By the same token, Jaime, by losing his hand, he might have become a better person. I'm not so sure he would thank Locke, though. [Laughs.]

Part of what endeared Jaime to the audience after he lost his hand was his relationship with Brienne. Whether that was just a very strong friendship rooted in respect, or a romantic relationship, he never actually cheated on Cersei. But while he was away, she cheated on him ... with their own cousin, Lancel.
Yeah, that's not cool, is it? I know they're already incestuous, but that's just weird. That's just wrong. [Laughs.] Does she really love him? I don't think so. But it's like this weird stubborn side he shares with Brienne. You know how Catelyn Stark asked her to look after her kids? Well, the kids clearly don't want her help. And yet she keeps going after them, without really reflecting, Is this necessary? So for Jaime, it's great that you love your sister, and you have these kids, but clearly, she doesn't seem to be that into you anymore. Could you maybe reconsider that decision? But no, he doesn't. He's very stubborn. But for his sake, I hope that one day, he'll realize that you can split up with your sister.

Jaime and Bronn don't get to go off on this journey in the books. How much fun is it to have their buddy-comedy chemistry, and getting to go off-book?
Jerome Flynn
is a great actor. And I think Jaime and Bronn, they're very different of course, but they share certain traits. They have a good level of honesty about who they are, and what their mission is. They're not sentimental. They're very cynical, in some ways, which is entertaining, because they'll speak their minds. And Bronn doesn't care that Jaime is a Lannister. He has no respect for that clan, which I think Jaime responds to. But it's kind of fun, also, for everyone who's watching the show, book readers and non-readers, because there are all these surprises now that no one's seen coming! I think David [Benioff] and Dan [Weiss] are so deep into this material, I don't see any difference between these new scenes and the other scenes in the show. I was just grateful that they came up with this story line. We had a blast shooting it.

While Jaime’s in Dorne, the Dornish recognize female primogeniture — being the older child, Myrcella would take the throne before Tommen. Jaime wants to defend her, but do you think he would support her claim?
I would hope so! And Myrcella would be the next in line. But who knows? I think Jaime probably realizes that it's not a healthy place to be, on the Iron Throne. Just get out, away from that place! [Laughs.] Because people end up dead! But it would make total sense to have Myrcella as queen. I see that. But I think we should make Cersei the queen. I mean, she's crazy, but she knows what she's doing. Anyone who wants to be king or queen, they're a little crazy. I would tell Cersei: Form alliances as much as she can, and maybe check out the crazy woman across the Narrow Sea? Because if the reports of those dragons are true, those are weapons of mass destruction! We can't mess around with them. Or let's just pack up our bags and go back to Casterly Rock and stay out of harm's way. Or get a small cottage somewhere. It's just too messed up in King's Landing.

For all the talk about Jaime being such a great swordsman, we really haven't seen him in that many sword fights ...
That's true. He lives by reputation. He's like a prizefighter that everyone wants to fight.

And especially once he lost one hand, and had to learn to fight with the other, he thought he was at a disadvantage. Now, it seems, this thing he thought was a liability could actually be helpful in a fight.
Exactly! We talked last year with the stunt coordinator about this, because he's carrying this solid-metal hand, and it would be stupid not to use it. So I really like what we did in that episode, and how it happens by accident. It's instinctual that he would raise his hand, and then that saves his life and actually enables him to win the fight. That was fun to do. And of course, this is going to give Jaime some confidence. He needs it, for sure.

What was the choreography like, shooting a fight scene on the sand dunes?
The choreography was a nightmare. [Laughs.] It was set in Dorne, of course, but that particular sequence, we shot in this amazing place in Northern Ireland called Portstewart. You act as if you would be in Spain, but of course, it wasn't quite as warm as Spain. Still gorgeous. But the reset took forever, because you have to get the sand dunes back to their pristine look. And then I also had sand up my crack for three or four days after!