Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 29 October 2020

Catching up with Game of Thrones star Nikolaj Coster-Waldau at Middle East Film & Comic Con

Coster-Waldau – who plays Jaime Lannister on Game of Thrones – talks about the show’s incredible popularity, his multinational rise to fame and why he loves the convention experience.
Danish actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau at Middle East Film & Comic Con. Ali Haider / EPA
Danish actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau at Middle East Film & Comic Con. Ali Haider / EPA

Game of Thrones star Nikolaj Coster-Waldau is giving little away about what audiences can expect from season six of the HBO fantasy-­drama series when it begins later this month – especially about that big cliffhanger.

Since the end of season five, the big talking point among fans has been the fate of Jon Snow, who did not look too healthy when we last saw him, bleeding in the snow.

And when we asked Coster-Waldau – who plays Jaime Lannister in the hit show and was a guest at the fifth Middle East Film & Comic Con at the weekend – what is coming in the new season, it was clearly on his mind, too. If nothing else, it will be a relief when he no longer has to field questions about Snow’s fate.

“Well, we’ll find out if Jon Snow’s dead, so we’ll finally put an end to all that questioning at last, which will be great,” he says.

Yes, but is he really dead or will there be a miraculous recovery?

“Of course he’s dead. We saw him die in the last series, didn’t we?” he says, with a quizzical expression, and that’s as much as he will reveal. Well, we tried.

The veil of secrecy surrounding Snow’s fate and other plot developments is not surprising, especially now that the television adaptation has overtaken the events in author George R R Martin’s books.

Coster-Waldau has a theory about why the show has struck a note with viewers worldwide, and why so many people will be tuning in to find out what happens next.

“I think the reason it’s been so successful everywhere is that you can’t pinpoint it to a specific region,” he says. “You have different languages and people from all over the world in it – and of course it’s set in a different world, too.

“At it’s core it’s something everyone can relate to – people struggling for power. That happens everywhere – in this part of the world, in Europe. All these people in the show just want to do what’s right for them. There’s so much conflict. The characters just act like people in real life – they say one thing and do the opposite. Everyone can relate to that.

“Plus HBO has really backed the show to pull off the immense sets, the special effects, the supernatural stuff. There are so many ways that the show could have gone wrong, but somehow they managed to attract the very best people in England and all over the world and it just clicked.”

Like the show, Coster-Waldau is tricky to pin down to a specific region. He is from Denmark but has appeared in movies and TV shows throughout the world, including Norway’s highest grossing domestic film Headhunters (2011).

He speaks with a distinctly British accent – he lived in London and trained at the Bristol Old Vic theatre – had a North American accent in movies such as Ridley Scott’s 2001 Black Hawk Down.

“I always knew I wanted to go to England,” he says. “The actors I’d looked up to as a kid were always English or American. A couple of Swedish actors I knew had done that successfully and I thought, ‘Well, I might be Danish but if they can do it there must be a way.’

“I lived in London for a couple of years with my sister and her English boyfriend, and I had a rule that we didn’t speak Danish. They’d refuse to watch TV with me because I would repeat everything to try to get the accent.

“That’s the really hard thing – the way you talk defines you as a person and it takes years to get the accent right in a different language. I still have a dialect coach on set to get that last 5 or 10 per cent. So that was always my ambition, but you can’t plan these things. I guess I just got very lucky.”

Coster-Waldau seems genuinely impressed by what he has seen during his brief visit.

“Comic Cons have exploded all over world, and I think that has a lot to do with the changing ways we can access shows,” says the actor, who recently promoted Apple’s TV streaming service. “Now you can watch a whole season over a weekend. That allows people to go far deeper into the characters. And there are so many fansites where people can discuss it.

“This is only my second comic con, but I love coming to them and meeting people that are up for having a genuinely great time, that have a real passion for their hobby. There’s something very personal about watching your favourite shows, but then it’s very social, too, when you get together and share the experience, and I really love that about these events.”

cnewbould@thenational.ae

Updated: April 9, 2016 04:00 AM

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