This article contains spoilers for Season 8, Episode 2 of “Game of Thrones.”
Jaime Lannister knew it wouldn’t be easy leaving King’s Landing to join Team Living at Winterfell. But he probably didn’t expect a very public interrogation about some of his actions that besmirched his honor: having killed Daenerys’s father, for one, and also having pushed an inquisitive little Stark boy out a window.
Now that the children harmed by Jaime’s behavior were old enough to hold him accountable, the Kingslayer was in need of a friendly face. Tyrion need not apply.
White Walker invasion aside, the events of Sunday night’s episode of “Game of Thrones” must have come as a relief for Jaime, then. With his life on the line, he had the very best character witness possible: Brienne of Tarth. And now that Jaime has broken up with his sister, the two were finally able to share a little happiness.
Knighting Brienne was perhaps the best way for Jaime to show his affection and respect for Brienne. It was also a very touching culmination to one of the series’s richest relationships — and just in time, before the world around them starts falling apart. This month, actors Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime) and Gwendoline Christie (Brienne) spoke about the endlessly fascinating dynamic that animates their two characters. These are edited excerpts from that conversation.
Q: You two have such a great rapport as actors and as characters. Have you ever thought about what might have happened between Jaime and Brienne if they had met in happier times?
Gwendoline Christie: If they had met in happier times, he wouldn’t have spoken to her. And she would have just disregarded him.
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau: He would have talked to her! But she wouldn’t have spoken to him unless she was forced to.
Christie: Why would he speak to her when he spends all of his time insulting her? I don’t think he would have. And also, what strikes me as the reason why Brienne makes Jaime a likable character is...
Coster-Waldau: Are you going to go back over something that I did wrong?
Christie: She transformed him from the stereotypical male and the kind of patriarchal perfect knight in shining armor...
Coster-Waldau: This is exactly how the past nine years have been.
Christie: ... and deconstructs it. So I don’t believe he would have spoken to Brienne.
Coster-Waldau: Well, you’re entitled to your own opinion.
Christie: I appreciate that! Thank you. It’s only taken, what is it, seven or eight years for you to allow me to have my opinion? Rather than have you screaming in my face?
Coster-Waldau: You clearly don’t have a problem getting a word in. (Laughs.)
Christie: That’s how George R.R. Martin wrote it, that he’s the beauty and I’m the beast. And with that format, you actually see their complexities, and that’s what causes your intimate and loving relationship with the characters as opposed to it just being about gloss.
Q: Or Jaime is both beauty and beast, since he’s the one being transformed.
Coster-Waldau: No, you’re absolutely right. But also, that’s what’s interesting about Jaime. People would talk to me in Season 1 and say: “He’s such a disgusting guy! He’s a terrible man!” Yes, as far as having sex with his sister, morally, I wouldn’t ... but they’re clearly two consenting adults. I would understand if you were more upset that he tried to kill an innocent kid, pushing Bran out a window. From Jaime’s standpoint, there was no other way. He would do anything to protect the people he loves from this kid’s knowledge. But there are always consequences.
Q: Jaime has long been reviled for killing the Mad King. Not just for killing him, but for breaking his vow to protect him. People might be less upset if they understood why.
Coster-Waldau: I can understand why it’s hard for Jaime to talk about. Jaime’s always been ashamed of the fact that he did break his vow. It was his job to protect this guy. You would think that what he chose to do, to save the world, would be such an obvious thing, that it was the right thing to do. But still, in this world, it’s not. And he has to live with the fact. But Brienne understands. And he sees himself in her, in her dedication to others. She’s one of the few people he can trust.
Q: What do you think their lives would be like if the fighting ended, if the battles were won, and if they could actually retire and live their lives in peace?
Coster-Waldau: Well, I think that they’re both ... I was going to say damaged people, but that’s wrong. They have history, and they carry that history with them, as we all do. Going into a relationship with someone who’s had a very long relationship with another woman, where they had three kids and lost those three kids in a very brutal way, and knowing that he has just left that woman, who is now pregnant with his baby ... I mean, it’s not easy. It’s going to be complicated.
Q: Do you think Brienne would mind if Cersei were pregnant?
Christie: She would.
Coster-Waldau: You think she would?
Coster-Waldau: Well, then yes, she would.
Christie: He had this intense sexual relationship with his sister, and then there’s this continuing relationship with Brienne. It’s a loaded relationship, and I don’t think it’s defined in either of their minds. But they know they enjoy seeing each other.
Coster-Waldau: They clearly like each other.
Christie: That’s not the way I’ve been playing it! (Laughs.) I think it actually hasn’t been overt. Nothing has been overt. If you take it from Season 2, when Jaime and Brienne first meet, through the duration of their history together, the changes in their dynamic ... you watch it move from being repelled by each other, to respect, to being encouraged by each other, to possible attraction.
Coster-Waldau: And they’re not able to admit that to themselves.
Christie: No, that’s just you. (Laughs.)It’s a refreshing take on female sexuality, desire and love, where it is not about begging to be loved and therefore approved. There’s much more of an inner struggle. A deep conflict of not needing to be, not wanting to be and wanting to be. I’ve enjoyed that subversion of male-female relationships. Normally, it’s: “Please love me. Please adore me. Please be physically intimate with me.” Would Brienne even want them to do something like hold hands?
Coster-Waldau: Very clearly not!
Christie: Good luck with that!
Q: One of the more romantic moments was when Brienne tried to give back the sword Oathkeeper, and Jaime said it was hers — that it was always hers.
Christie: I think it’s shared ownership. A shared item.
Coster-Waldau: We don’t even have to share. We have two (Valyrian steel swords). But if we did have to share, I’ll share with you.
Christie: Yeah, but that sword’s mine. You gave me that sword.
Coster-Waldau: Yeah, that’s yours.
Christie: OK, I just wanted to make sure of that now, and not in a court of law.
Coster-Waldau: Absolutely. You can trust me.
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