Nikolaj Coster-Waldau on S&M with Kate Upton and that ‘Game of Thrones’ Rape Scene

The handsome actor discusses his role in The Other Woman as a cheating lothario and one of the most controversial scenes in Game of Thrones history.

04.25.14 9:45 AM ET

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau is the stud you love to hate—at least onscreen.

As Jaime Lannister, the rakish, incestuous “Kingslayer” on Game of Thrones, he’s an object of attraction (devilishly handsome) and derision (he loves his sister). On Sunday night’s episode, the pendulum swung toward the latter when he sexually assaulted his sister, Cersei, beside the altar of their dead love child, Joffrey. 

He’s not much better in The Other Woman. In Nick Cassavetes’s comedy, the Danish actor plays Alex King, a suave, Maserati-driving, bespoke suit-wearing angel investor who cheats on his adoring wife, Kate (Leslie Mann), with two other beauties—a career-minded lawyer, Carly (Cameron Diaz), and a young hottie, Amber (Kate Upton). When Kate uncovers the charade, the three ladies band together to take down the scumbag.

In an interview with The Daily Beast, Coster-Waldau discussed his comedy chops, Jaime Lannister’s dark turn, and much more.

Note: Portions of this interview were included in a separate piece on THAT scene.

There’s a crazy scene where Leslie’s character is dosing your morning shakes with estrogen, and you begin growing man-boobs with some very big nipples. What did they use for the nipples?

[Laughs] First, a lady came in and measured my nipples so they could fit under the prosthetic, and then they had an “audition” in the makeup trailer to find a pair of nipples worthy of my character, Mark King. They found a lady with the right nipples and then they were cast and molded, and sculpted in latex, and they were applied on my chest and became my nipples. I still have a pair at home that I intend to frame and put on my wall. I’ve done a lot of crazy stuff onscreen in my day, but that’s up there.

Is that the craziest thing you’ve ever done in a film or TV show? What comes close?

Oh…I think my explosive ass scene in The Other Woman also comes pretty close. Some of the stuff in Season 3 on Game of Thrones—the amount of mud I had to eat, not intentionally but by accident—was pretty tough. But yes, I think the nipples thing is probably the weirdest thing I’ve ever done.

Apparently there was a sex scene that was cut from the film with you and Kate Upton that left you with a huge bruise on your ass?

Yeah. It was an S&M scene that was cut from the film. It’s a scene in a bar where I meet her, and there’s this guy in drag who comes up and grabs me. After that, there’s a scene at her place where I think we’re going to have some steamy fun and I’m hanging in this weird sex swing type of thing and she’s spanking me. It’s a fun scene, but I doubt it would’ve made the PG-13 rating. Listen, she didn’t do anything wrong and I kept telling her, “It’s fine… just take 10 percent off, but it’s fine…” and Cassavetes was laughing his ass off in the corner going, “Keep going!” It was really funny, I just got a huge bruise from it. 

What attracted you to the character? It’s a comedy role, which is quite new for you.

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When I read the script, I just related to the character because I know guys like that who are so far up their own asses and think they’re invincible, and are all about showing off how cool or rich they are. There’s a lot of narcissism involved. He loves his wife, but is deeply in love with himself and needs to be validated constantly. I don’t like guys like that, so to play him and see him fall flat on his face was a great opportunity. Also, I hadn’t done a lot of physical comedy, but I love stuff like that, so to be able to do that was a treat.

Have you ever had a vindictive ex get revenge on you?

[Laughs] I’ve never had anything like that, thank god. It’s a fun setup, this movie, but I don’t think it would work in real life. I’ve never heard of the wife looking up the mistress to become friends, but I like it. And I really don’t think a guy would look up another guy who’s fucking his wife and be like, “Hey, let’s become buddies!” I do not see that happening.

And these three women, played by Leslie Mann, Cameron Diaz, and Kate Upton, do seem to satisfy separate… interests for your character.

Sure. There’s the mother-thing back home [Leslie], the sexy, crazy, experienced lover that is Cameron, and then of course he has the need for the young, hot girl [Kate] to make him feel young. He even tries to dress young and hip with Kate’s character, which is so pathetic. They’re all extensions of his own insecurities.

Do you think monogamy is realistic in this day and age?

Yeah. I’m in a monogamous relationship, and have been for many, many years. I think it’s a choice. I don’t think you can generalize though, and what works for me may not work for other people, but I don’t think everybody cheats. We’re all different. For me, I’m very lucky to have a wife and kids and am really happy to have my wife and kids because I love her, and we have a lot of fun together.

How did you find Kate Upton as an actress? This is really her first rodeo.

To be honest, I was pretty impressed. It’s one of those parts where, if you don’t know acting, you might say, “Is she just playing herself?” But she’s not. The most famous actress who did the “dumb blond” routine was Marilyn Monroe, but she was a genius actress. You have to be smart to play these girls, and Kate is definitely smart and doing a really good job.

Let’s talk about the controversial scene in Episode 3 of Game of Thrones between Jaime and Cersei. It might be the most messed up sex scene in the history of television.

It’s completely fucked up. It doesn’t get any darker than that, does it? It was tough to shoot, as well. There is significance in that scene, which comes straight from the books—it’s George R.R. Martin’s mind at play. It took me a while to wrap my head around it. For some people, it’s going to look just like rape, but the intention is not just that. It’s about two people who’ve had this thing for so many years, and it’s been a physical thing they’ve had in secret, and it’s almost the last thing left now. It’s Jaime trying to force her back; to try and make him whole again, with that stupid hand. There’s a moment in that scene where the golden hand comes up and she’s disgusted by it and he says, “Why did the gods make me love such a hateful woman?” He wants her and wants everything to go back to the way it was. But there’s no way back. It’s such a dark scene. It’s going to be interesting to see what people think about it.

What was the most difficult part about shooting that scene?

To understand it, and find a way through it—to understand why he goes as far as he does. For me, it became, “When does the physical thing take over?” He’s been holding his emotions back for so long, and suddenly out of anger, instinct takes over and he lets loose. He says, “I don’t care.” He wants not to care. He has to connect to her, and he knows this is the most fucked up way it’s going to happen, but right now, this is all he can do. It’s an act of powerlessness.

It is rape though, right?

Yes, and no. If you watch it again, there are moments where she kind of gives in and then moments where she pushes him away. But you’re right… it’s not pretty.

Are we going to see Brienne and Jaime get down? There’s a lot of sexual tension there.

Watch the show! [Laughs] I can’t give anything away, but there’s definitely a strong connection between those two, for sure. But right now, Jaime has enough on his plate as-is.

A lot of actors on big TV shows tend to have trouble moving on to other projects in the wake of those shows, but your film career has been going pretty well so far. The roles have been pretty diverse, and you haven’t been stuck in sword-and-sandals projects.

I’m doing my first sword-and-sandals movie now, Gods of Egypt, but you’re right. I’ve been doing this for more than 20 years, and I’ve been lucky because I’ve always been working. For a larger audience, Game of Thrones was the first thing they’d seen me in, but I just like to be working and experimenting with different stuff. When we were shooting Season 1, I shot a movie called Headhunters in Norway that did very well, and I think some people saw it in the industry and realized I could do more than just Jaime. But who knows how these things work!