‘Game of Thrones’ show runners on Jaime Lannister’s evolution

April 15, 2013 | 8:29 a.m.

Emilia Clarke plays Daenerys Targaryen, who embraced her role as the "Mother of Dragons" at the end of last season. (Helen Sloan / HBO)

Lena Headey returns as Queen Regent Cersei Lannister, attempting to maintain control of the Seven Kingdoms with her psychotic son, Joffrey, and her controlling father. (Helen Sloan / HBO)

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau plays Jaime Lannister, last seen being escorted to King's Landing by Brienne of Tarth to be exchanged for Arya and Sansa Stark. (Helen Sloan / HBO)

Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) managed to repel Stannis Baratheon's invading forces from King's Landing at the end of last season, but he was rewarded with the loss of his title (King's Hand) and a scar on his face. (Helen Sloan / HBO)

Charles Dance plays Tywin Lannister, patriarch of the Lannister family, who returned to King's Landing to relieve his son, Tyrion, from his role as the King's Hand. (Helen Sloan / HBO)

Michelle Fairley plays Catelyn Stark, who is attempting to keep her children safe. (Helen Sloan / HBO)

Robb Stark (Richard Madden) ended last season by breaking his engagement to Lord Walder Frey's daughter and marrying Lady Talisa (Oona Chaplin) instead. (Helen Sloan / HBO)

Sophie Turner plays Sansa Stark, who was promised to the psychotic King Joffrey, but managed to avoid marriage. However, so long as she remains in King's Landing, she's in danger. (Helen Sloan / HBO)

Kit Harrington plays Jon Snow, the Night's Watch soldier who has been captured by the Wildlings north of the Wall. (Helen Sloan / HBO)

Maisie Williams plays Arya Stark, who learned of a secret organization known as the Faceless Men at the end of last season. (Helen Sloan / HBO)

Isaac Hempstead-Wright plays Bran Stark, who has begun a trek north to the Wall. (Helen Sloan / HBO)

Thomas Brodie-Sangster plays Jojen Reed, brother of Meera Reed. (Helen Sloan / HBO)

Ellie Kendrick plays Meera Reed, who will assist Bran Stark on his journey. (Helen Sloan / HBO)

Rose Leslie plays the Wildling warrior Ygritte, who has her eye on Jon Snow. (Helen Sloan / HBO)

Stephen Dillane plays Stannis Baratheon, who still lusts after the Iron Throne, even though his assault on King's Landing failed. (Helen Sloan / HBO)

Carice van Houten plays the red priestess Melisandre, who continues to advise Stannis Baratheon, even though his attack on King's Landing failed. (Helen Sloan / HBO)

Natalie Dormer plays Lady Margaery Tyrell, the new lady love of King Joffrey (Jack Gleeson). (Helen Sloan / HBO)

Ciaran Hinds joins the cast as Mance Rayder, the "King Beyond the Wall" and leader of the Wildlings. (Helen Sloan / HBO)

Diana Rigg joins the cast as Lady Olenna Redwyne, also known as the Queen of Thorns. She's the grandmother of Margaery and Loras Tyrell and a scheming force to be reckoned with. (Helen Sloan / HBO)

Richard Dormer plays Beric Dondarrion, leader of the mysterious Brotherhood Without Banners, which is introduced in the third season. (Helen Sloan / HBO)

Paul Kaye joins the cast as Thoros of Myr, a red priest who worships the same deity as Melisandre, who also serves as an adviser to Beric Dondarrion. (Helen Sloan / HBO)

Gwendoline Christie plays Brienne of Tarth, the female knight tasked with escorting Jaime Lannister to King's Landing. (Helen Sloan / HBO)

Clive Russell joins the cast as Brynden Tully, also known as the Blackfish, Catelyn Stark's uncle. (Helen Sloan / HBO)

Jaime Lannister’s fortunes changed forever in Sunday’s episode of “Game of Thrones.”

Readers familiar with the events in George R.R. Martin’s “A Storm of Swords,” the third novel in his “A Song of Ice and Fire” saga, thought it quite likely that Jaime would be, well, transformed, this season, but it was still shocking to see the act itself. (And, spoiler warning, if you missed the episode, this would be a good time to stop reading.)

But the moment in the narrative when the Kingslayer loses his sword hand is the moment where his evolution as a character truly begins, a fact that “Game of Thrones” show runners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss made sure to note even when they were casting Danish actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau to play the role.

“One of the challenges was this was a character who in the first season was going to be radically different from the character we were going to see in the third season,” Benioff said. “We needed to cast an actor who was able to encompass both ends of that spectrum without ever knowing if we would get this far.

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“It was kind of an interesting conversation when we were first making the deal with Nikolaj,” Benioff continued. “We warned him, ‘It’s going to be a good first season, then you’re going to be mostly absent in the second season’ — we ended up writing him more scenes for the second season just because Nikolaj’s so good we didn’t want to be away from him for so long. ‘But I promise you, if we make it past the second season, where we’re taking this character is going to be fantastic.’”

“Game of Thrones,” of course, has done more than just “make it past” its second season.

An average of 10.4 million viewers tuned in last season, making “Game of Thrones” a marquee success for HBO. The show has enchanted critics too, earning a Hugo Award (given for achievement in science fiction or fantasy) and a Golden Globe for Peter Dinklage, who took a statuette for his supporting performance as the calculating Tyrion Lannister in 2012. Additionally, the show has won eight Emmy Awards (including one for Dinklage) and was nominated for 16 more.

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Benioff and Weiss credit the show’s cast with inhabiting the complicated characters to such believable effect, and Coster-Waldau is no exception. But finding the actor for Jaime was an interesting challenge, they said.

“What you realize when you’re looking for someone who can play the role of Jaime Lannister, is you need someone, he’s got to be really good looking, he’s got to be incredibly charismatic, he’s got to be smart, he’s got to be funny, he’s got to be athletic enough to do the stunts that you need him to do. Basically, what you need is a movie star and yet we can’t cast a famous movie star. When Nikolaj walked into the room, we were thinking, ‘God, I hope this guy’s good because he seems perfect,’ and he was.

“This season coming up, there’s no question, it’s his best one yet and the one he’s been waiting for and we’ve been waiting for for so long.”

– Gina McIntyre | @LATHeroComplex


Peter Dinklage (Tyrion Lannister), left, and Michelle Fairley (Catelyn Stark). (Kevin Winter / Getty Images

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22 Responses to ‘Game of Thrones’ show runners on Jaime Lannister’s evolution

  1. David Williams says:

    Big, big, big mistake playing modern music at the end of the episode. Whether you liked the song or not (and I don't see how you could) you were taken immediately out of the shock of the ending. It was especially egregious considering how good the episode was.

    • Dave says:

      I wholeheartedly agree! The music for the credits made me feel like I just finished watching an episode of True Blood. I didn't like the choice at all.

      • Bryan says:

        I thought the same thing! When the music came on, I went "did I just finish watching True Blood?" Great episode. Crappy choice for music.

    • LetsWatchTwo says:

      As soon as the familiar credits music didn't run, I thought, this is the moment they jumped the shark.

      Also, Hero Complex, it's Jaime, not Jamie.

    • JayK says:

      i agree. would've been deafening to just go silent and roll credits. i was watching with friends (and we know one of the writers) and our jaws were collectively dropped in shock. I love this show!

  2. sam says:

    I agree, was completely unfitting. The choice was almost as tragic as his loss.

  3. DougW says:

    Wow, complete disagreement. I loved the punk-style of the song, it played directly into what GRRM has been doing since day 1 with this series, and that is playing medieval sword/magic fantasy with 21st century sensibilities. If you want Tolkien, read Tolkien or watch Lord of the Rings. GRRM is a different animal, from the modern dialogue to the death of a ton of important characters, and yes, also to the music that plays in the credits….

  4. sup says:

    The music at the end was very deliberate and composed precisely to end that scene. It was SUPPOSED to shock and confuse you, just like losing the hand shocked and confused Jamie.

  5. SRoit says:

    Complaining over the end song, as if it took away everything that came before it, is what's egregious.

  6. Karen P says:

    I thought it was terrible music, didn't fit the ending. Please do not do that modern music crap again. First huge misstep with the series.

  7. whatduh says:

    Totally agree. Broke me us out of the magical trance with the modern song. I found it very…dirty. Not in a sexual sense but rather, the modern, real world full of commercialism and fake artistry.

  8. Wildling says:

    Completely disagree as well, I LOVED the music choice. The shock of the event, then the juxtaposed insanity of the music was truly awesome.

  9. Reaper says:

    Did you guys not listen to the lyrics? It was the same song that the "northerers" that captured Jaime and Bryn (?) were singing on their horses through the forest. I don't know if the punk was original and they adapted it to a folk singalong or the other way around but either way I thought it was cool.

    • Dinkster says:

      Yeah, I got it was the same song, and that was cool. But still agree that it was the wrong choice to "pump up the volume" at the end of the episode. Took me totally out of the world of this show.

  10. JaimeLannister says:

    The pain during that moment was so immense I almost vomited, then you play that tune over the top of it, I am not a joke! My father will hear about this.

  11. coffeeshoptalk says:

    It's not a modern song. It's from the book, and it was sung by the soldiers as they were riding/marching through the forest in this episode. It's a bawdy song, which fits the theme of Jaime being taken down a notch by people he thought of as rif-raf. I thought it was awesome!

  12. KyleZombie says:

    The song was glorious, and it shocked me even more than Jaime getting his hand chopped off. GREAT choice by director. Bravo.

  13. hummingjoseph says:

    I thought the song was a mistake, I rewound thinking the music was coming from some other place

  14. Jen Estes says:

    Jaime fans have been waiting for this moment since the beginning, it's the rebirth of his character and proves that anybody is redeemable. This show's biggest strength, for me, has been its casting and there's no better example of it than with Jaime Lannister. I can't imagine a better portrayal to the character than Nikolaj. Like the showrunners said, they needed someone to encompass Jaime's arrogance, prowess, meanness, wit and especially now, vulnerability. He does all of this with perfection.

    (And I actually liked the Bear & Maiden Fair cover to follow up the scene – for me it made it even more jarring.)

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