Game of Thrones: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau Talks "Degrading" S1 Rape Scene

There is no shortage of controversial moments in the HBO series Game of Thrones, but one that still gets to star Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who played Jaime Lannister, is the wedding rape between Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) and Khal Drogo (Jason Mamoa) in season one. The actor spoke with The Times of London (via Insider) while promoting his latest film The Silencing about the disturbing pilot episode scene.

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau attends the screening of 'Sink Or Swim (Le Grand Bain)' during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Palais des Festivals on May 13, 2018 in Cannes, France. (Image: magicinfoto/Shutterstock.com)
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau attends the screening of 'Sink Or Swim (Le Grand Bain)' during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Palais des Festivals on May 13, 2018 in Cannes, France. (Image: magicinfoto/Shutterstock.com)

"For Emilia to play that in series one was really tough and degrading because what that character goes through is horrific," Coster-Waldau said. "She's sold to a guy who rapes her, but her way of getting through that is a massive journey, right?" The actor lamented how misogyny served as a driving force for Game of Thrones' powerful female characters including Jaime's sister Cersei, played by Lena Headey. Jaime and Cersei were involved in an incestuous relationship throughout the series.

Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones. Image Courtesy of HBO/WarnerMedia
Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones. Image Courtesy of HBO/WarnerMedia

How Misogyny Forged Daenerys and Cersei

"Cersei, too, was never looked upon as an equal to her brother just because of gender," Coster-Waldau said. "But then she rises to the top. And you could argue that the way those two women turned out was because of being raised in this horrific way." Setting up the context for Daenarys' story was in season one, she and her brother Vicerys (Harry Lloyd) flee King's Landing after their father gets overthrown from the iron throne and seeks to gain the army of Dothraki, a tribal warrior race to help reclaim it. To show loyalty, Vicerys "sells" away his sister to the tribe's leader. The patriarchal tribe is misogynistic in nature, but respect is paid to the Khal's betrothed as Daenerys throughout the series steadily gains power as the Mother of Dragons and Breaker of Chains. While initially noble, Westeros eventually breaks down her moral fiber until she ultimately embraces her father's genocidal tendencies in the series' eighth and final season.

Game of Thrones: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau Talks "Degrading" S1 Rape Scene
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Jaime Lannister in Game of Thrones. Image courtesy of HBO/WarnerMedia

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau's Revelation on Daenerys on Game of Thrones

One of the biggest reveals from James Hibberd's upcoming behind-the-scenes book "Fire Cannot Kill a Dragon" was that author George R. R. Martin disagreed with creators and showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss about the rape scene, which was written in the books as consensual. Another difference was Dany in the books is also younger than Clarke as depicted as in the series. "Why did the wedding scene change from the consensual seduction scene … to the brutal rape of Emilia Clarke? We never discussed it," Martin said. Upon reflection, Coster-Waldau thinks perhaps the pilot scene is what ultimately led to Dany burning King's Landing down. It's perhaps poetic about fan discourse that they probably didn't like how the final season panning because of their own cognitive dissidence about how the series should be. "Because when you meet people, they're not angry at all, are they?" he said. "Then they get behind a keyboard and get opinionated and write a petition. I did a round table with hardcore fans, and we were all talking about the ending and what I found was that, yes, most had another idea for what would have been a great ending, but, ultimately, they just didn't want the show to end."

About Tom Chang

I'm a follower of pop culture from gaming, comics, sci-fi, fantasy, film, and TV for over 30 years. I grew up reading magazines like Starlog, Mad, and Fangora. As a professional writer for over 10 years, Star Wars was the first sci-fi franchise I fell in love with. I'm a nerd-of-all-trades.