Performer of the Week: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau

Performer of the Week Nicolaj Coster-Waldau Game of ThronesA weekly feature in which we spotlight shining stars

THE PERFORMER | Nikolaj Coster-Waldau

THE SHOW | Game of Thrones

THE EPISODE | “Kissed by Fire”

THE AIRDATE | April 28, 2013

RELATED | HBO Renews Game of Thrones for Season 4

THE PERFORMANCE | In the span of just a few episodes, Game of Thrones‘ Jaime lost a hand and grew a conscience – a rough go in anyone’s book. In last Sunday’s outing, for the first time in his Lannister life, the Kingslayer was laid so low that a warm bath and a semi-sympathetic ear was all it took to undo him. Portrayer Nikolaj Coster-Waldau artfully nailed Jaime’s despair – and made his character far more sympathetic — as he revealed the real story behind the Mad King’s murder.

The actor started out in familiar territory, carelessly tossing mean-spirited barbs at a discomfited Brienne as he slipped, naked, into her bathing pool. His jab about Renly’s death was nothing unusual, but his reaction to her ire was. Head bowed, Coster-Waldau showed us a new angle to his alter ego as he tiredly apologized. “I’m sick of fighting,” he admitted, sick and covered in filth, his stump held just above the water’s surface and his head bowed. As he proposed a truce and acknowledged his trust in his unlikely protector sitting a few paces away, Coster-Waldau softened Jaime into a defeated warrior completely sapped of strength.

The elder Lannister brother related the true story behind the Aerys II Targaryen’s death, which turned out to be more about preventing thousands of innocent deaths and less about gaining fame and glory. “Would you have kept your oath then?” he wearily demanded of Brienne, Coster-Waldau using a matter-of-fact tone to relate the terrible details of the act that earned Jaime his nickname. But at the mention of “the honorable Ned Stark,” the actor leapt forward on a surge of anger that left the knight trembling in Brienne’s sturdy arms – the best swordsman in Westeros reduced to swooning invalid. Jaime’s never had it worse, and Coster-Waldau’s never been better.

What performance knocked your socks off this week?