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NCW and Gwendoline Christie talk bears, training for swordfights, are generally hilarious

When Gwendoline Christie entered the room to speak to the press, she looked glamorous and feminine as opposed to Brienne, the female warrior she plays on “Game of Thrones.”

Then Christie painfully banged her leg on the table, and her co-star, Nicolaj Coster-Waldau — who plays Jaime Lannister — couldn’t resist making fun of her. That was the tone of their interview as we assembled to talk about the upcoming third season of “Game of Thrones.”

Nicolaj Coster-Waldau: On her flight here from London she was told twice by the staff to be quiet.

Gwendoline Christie: That’s because I was with Charles Dance and Bryan Adams.

Coster-Waldau: Oooh.

Q: The airline told you to keep quiet?

Christie: I was laughing, we were all laughing.

Coster-Waldau: And as you can tell, her laugh is… loud.

Christie: And then you told me last night that you made that up.

Coster-Waldau: Well, it was true though, wasn’t it?

Christie: Yes, but you said the airline staff…

Coster-Waldau: So let’s talk about the show…

Q: When were the two of you first introduced to each other professionally?

Christie: Well, I mentioned this earlier. I heard that Nikolaj was on the set filming a different scene and he was in the makeup truck. So I went there to introduce myself, went to shake his hand and he just sat there very loosely in the chair and just went, “Hi.” and just sized me up. I felt really uncomfortable and thought well, this is a bit shaky.

Coster-Waldau: That’s not how I recall at all.

Christie: This is a bit shaky, but I’ll accept it and go with that. Then he just started to antagonize me, wrongfoot me.

Coster-Waldau: That’s not quite true though, is it?

Christie: Like before there would be a take, he would try to put me off.

Coster-Waldau: Gwen, God, you have to get out of that fantasy world. What really happened, I found this broken woman. Well, you weren’t in tears, but so insecure and scared and afraid of the work and I said, “Listen, we’re just actors. We need to bond. We need to spend some time together. You shouldn’t be afraid.”

Christie: Nikolaj takes 10% of my income and is my guru.

Coster-Waldau: No, that’s not true. I wouldn’t do that. You do get to bring me coffee, but that was because you like to.

Christie: And carry your handbag.

Coster-Waldau: Yes, and carry my handbag. No, I think earlier on, we kind of decided without discussing it that, the scenes they have, he’s being so rude all the time, so we kind of tested that, and you’re very good at being rude. So we’re just doing that all the time and it can be very, I guess…

Christie: Draining?

Coster-Waldau: Draining to other people around us because they think that we really dislike each other. Often that’s true though, isn’t it?

Q: Does Brienne have any respect for Jaime?

Christie: I think when we first see – -

Coster-Waldau: What was difficult was when we did the scenes, you had to work so hard to get rid of your private personal respect for me. That took a while.

Christie: I don’t think you’re well. I think you’re having a psychotic episode.

Coster-Waldau: No, I’ve been asleep for three roundtables and suddenly I woke up. Please answer the question.

Christie: Thank you so much for giving me permission to do that. I think when we see the two of them together, she has no respect for him, both onscreen or off. No, she doesn’t have any reason. He has defied the knight’s code which Brienne has strived so hard as a woman to adhere to and to try to be taken seriously as a knight and to attain physical strength.

Coster-Waldau: Also Kingsguard, right?

Christie: Yes.

Coster-Waldau: No, but there is a difference though.

Christie: Yes, but she wants to be a knight.

Coster-Waldau: You were Renly’s guard, right?

Christie: Yeah, I was one of his Kingsguard.

Coster-Waldau: And he is too. And he’s done the opposite of that.

Christie: Do you think I wasn’t establishing the point efficiently enough? You thought that you had to drag it over to show some kind of dominance?

Coster-Waldau: No. As always, I was just trying to help you.

Christie: I’m really sorry you had to witness this.

Q: So there’s a bear in the trailers. We’ve seen the bear.

Coster-Waldau: Really?

Q: What was the bear like to work with?

Christie: As far as I’m aware, there’s a shot of a bear, but I don’t see anyone else with the bear. So as far as I’m aware, it’s just a shot of a bear.

Q: If there were a bear, what kind of bear would it be?

Christie: I just don’t know. I’m not quite sure what you’re talking about.

Q: It looks real.

Christie: Yeah, it looks like it could maybe.

Q: If you’re fighting a bear, do you have anything to work with?

Christie: Why would I do that?

Q: I think some people have an idea what’s going to happen with the bear.

Coster-Waldau: But most people don’t. So we can’t talk about that.

Christie: A lot of people wouldn’t make any connection.

Q: So no bear questions?

Coster-Waldau: No, no, it’s a big thing. You don’t want to give anything away.

Christie: It’s difficult because people feel so passionately about the show and you don’t want to spoil anything.

Coster-Waldau: What amazes me is because there are so many fans and there are so many readers of these books, the fact that people are so loyal to keeping the secrets, because you go on these fansites and obviously so many people know what’s going to happen, but are very good at saying, “Okay, spoiler alert” or “don’t read this if…” (lol they've never been on ONTD clearly...)

For us then to go ahead and said, “Yeah, we do this and this happens” that would be really stupid. So that’s why we’re not going to answer any bear questions.

Christie: So really what you’ve just said is you don’t want to spoil it for people.

Coster-Waldau: Yes, I’m just trying to put more words into it.

Christie: Hear your own voice.

Q: Being in the United States right now, are you experiencing the fandom more intensely?

Coster-Waldau: Yes.

Christie: Yes, definitely.

Coster-Waldau: Absolutely, yeah.

Christie: In the U.K. not everybody has Sky, so they have to wait until they can buy the DVD to watch it, so there is that. It seems to be people have greater access here. It’s overwhelming. It’s overwhelming how passionate people are about it and they’re very demonstrative and it’s very touching. It’s great as an actor to be in anything that people actually like, and a rarity.

Q: How are your sword skills growing?

Coster-Waldau: She’s amazing at sword fighting. You really are.

Christie: Do you really think that?

Coster-Waldau: Yeah. (omg so presh ;_;)

Q: How did they do that?

Coster-Waldau: That is a minor miracle, isn’t it? How did they do that?

Christie: How did they do that?

Q: How did you train?

Christie: They gave me lessons. They were brilliant. They were incredibly supportive and I knew this was a part that would have lots and lots of sword fighting and also I was aware that Nicolaj is naturally very good and [he] has done it before. Not only [did] I [want] the character to be as good as possible, but I also didn’t want to let down my fellow actor.

So there were two things at work and then there was just the plain, good old fashioned rivalry that I wanted to beat his ass. So I trained for a long time. He learned it in what, two hours over skype? It took me two weeks.

Coster-Waldau: She was really good.

Q: Jaime is now a prisoner but he still keeps the attitude of power. Is it all a front or does he really believe he’s still powerful, just stuck in this situation?

Coster-Waldau: Well, I like the fact that he refuses to bend under pressure if you will. I don’t think it’s about being a powerful man. It’s just about not making excuses for who you are. He’s been around, he knows that it wouldn’t make a difference if he started begging Robb Stark for mercy. It wouldn’t make a difference.

He wouldn’t care, so he might as well just… What I like about him [is that] he always uses his mind and his words to look for weaknesses in people and I think in many ways he’s even better at that than he is with his sword. He understands the situations and he reads it really well I think. It’s a war. He’s the enemy to them so he can’t trust them. He doesn’t trust anyone.

Q: Can Jaime be redeemed, or does he even see himself as needing redemption?

Coster-Waldau: No. I don’t think he needs redemption and I think that’s what, in a way, there are similarities with these two characters and that is that whenever they walk into a room, everyone has preconceived opinions about who they are.

That scene when she kills those guards last season, as soon as they saw her they were just laughing because that’s ridiculous, there’s a woman and a knight. For him, it’s also oh, the kingslayer, he can’t be trusted. As I said earlier, he doesn’t feel the need to make any excuses for who he is. It really annoys him that he’s got this reputation which he believes deep down at the very core is very unjust.

So no, I don’t think, but having said that he’s not proud of some of the things he’s done of course. Pushing Bran out a window is a horrible thing to do. At the same time he felt, and I think he still feels that, it needed to be done to save his own kids and Cersei and himself.

Q: On a show where storylines are so separate, you two are on your own. Is it interesting to then see the other storylines on the show?

Coster-Waldau: Like last night, we saw episode one for the first time and it was thrilling because as you say, first of all, you know the other actors. Daenerys’ storyline is just so amazing and what they do, just the CGI work, it is quite extraordinary to watch. I’ve never been in a film or television show where I could actually sit down and watch it and just enjoy it. But I can with this one.

Q: What characters would each of you like to have some scenes with in the future?

Christie: I’d like to have some scenes with Cersei, because I think that they are two totally opposing character types and sort of the antithesis of each other.

Q: That’d be a powerful scene.

Christie: Yeah, I think you don’t have any preconceived ideas, any notion of what that scene would be, how that would play. And I also think Lena’s a brilliant actress so that’s my answer.

Coster-Waldau: I think I would like to have a scene with the new king, Joffrey, Jack Gleeson. A, I think he’s just an amazing actor. I think he does such a fantastic job, but also of course because of these issues they have. Jaime knows the truth. He knows that this is his son. This little creep of a monster. I think that would be interesting.

Q: People who haven’t read the books don’t know that Jaime becomes a sympathetic character.

Coster-Waldau: The thing is, the funny thing is, there’s talk about he does change. Of course we all change and he does change, but there’s also that whole truth that we meet him right in a very dark moment in his life. If we’d already known, if we’d had 10 episodes with him where he was just trying to deal with being in love with this woman.

Maybe if we’d built up sympathy, we would understand what he did to Bran, but we haven’t had that. But what’s great with a television show, because usually in a movie you have one or two characters and the rest are just supporting. Here we actually get to know these people, we get to spend a lot of time. Often that is also the case, but with Jaime at least, I think we discover that there is more to him than just meets the eye.

I'll never stop being amazed at how well these two understand their characters, and their banter together is great.


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