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'Game of Thrones' Star: Jaime's Big Season Was 'Building for Three Years'

THR: So knowing the truth about his Kingslayer back story affected how you played him in previous seasons.

Coster-Waldau: It did. That bitterness and anger he feels at his core -- It's like, “I know I broke my vow, but this was a good thing. How could I not have done it?” He says to Brienne – “How is this not the right thing to do?” But as soon as Ned Stark passed judgment that was it. The whole world knew “Yeah, great that we got rid of that king, but it shouldn’t have happened that way. It should have been a more honorable way.”

In one of the first scenes in season one -- Ned Stark comes to King’s Landing and Jaime meets him in the throne room, and he tries to address what happened then. I think if there’s one guy Jaime was hoping to be able to find some sympathy or at least maybe gratitude from, it would be Ned Stark. As he says in that scene, “Listen, I was there when the King burned your brother and father alive. One could have thought the fact that I killed him would not be the worst thing in your mind.” But of course Ned Stark is the honorable man and he will have none of that.

THR: How did the bear scene work? Were you acting with the bear?

Coster-Waldau: We shot a lot of the scene in Belfast, but we didn’t have a bear there. In January we went to Los Angeles and we shot with Bart the Bear II, who I must say is the biggest diva I’ve ever met on any movie set. I’m not even making this up. It was amazing to shoot with a live bear. They would have this trailer Bart would be in. It would be driven all the way to the set into the bear pit. And then, for Bart to come out, everyone would have to cheer for him: “Yay!  Bart is the best! Come on Bart! Come on Bart! Your the best. You’re such a good boy.”

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THR: Was working with the bear frightening?

Coster-Waldau: It was a little frightening. He’s a big animal.  But it was quite amazing. In all seriousness, to see what the trainers could make the bear do, and when you see the scene, it was a huge experience for me. I was glad to be there and I was glad to applaud Bart. He earned it.

THR: Just double checking, but is relationship with Brienne is purely platonic?

Coster-Waldau: They have a connection on a very deep level. I don’t think it is romantic. I don’t know what happens in the future, but I think for him it’s still a mystery to him. I don’t think he really understands why she’s so important to him. I don’t think he’s bonded with anyone like he has with her. It’s not about anything sexual -- it’s a kindred spirit I guess. I’m very curious to see what happens with these two later on.

THR: So it’s not just a matter of a Lannister pays his debts?

Coster-Waldau: No, because he did that already. He saved her from the rape. I don't think there was a debt there. He left her with Roose Bolton, they say goodbye and there is the subtext in the way that we played it that we know this could very much end in tears for her. We don’t know. Who knows. It’s not his responsibility, but he promises he will take care of the vow [to Catelyn Stark]. And yet, he can’t just leave her. And I’m sure he doesn’t understand why.

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THR: In season one you fought Eddard Stark and in this season you fought Brienne. Who is the better swordsman?

Coster-Waldau: Brienne.

THR: She defeated Jaime even though he was weakened from imprisonment -- is she actually better than Jaime?

Coster-Waldau: He was tired. You should not get me and Gwen in the same room and ask us that. (Laughs.) But now -- thank God she’s not here -- I can say that yeah, even though he was tired and worn out, she was very, very good. I think if he hadn’t been tied up, it would have been more of an equal fight. But she did whoop his ass, there’s no question about it.

Game of Thrones season three concludes Sunday at 9 p.m. on HBO.