'Game Of Thrones' Season 8 Will See Jaime Lannister Step Out Of Cersei's Shadow, Says Nikolaj Coster-Waldau

There's a whole range of characters on Game of Thrones, from those you love, to those you love to hate. And up until now, one character has largely existed in the middle, overshadowed by the loyalties of those he chooses to be loyal to. But in the upcoming final season, Jaime Lannister is stepping out of Cersei's shadow, and no one is more excited about it than Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who's played the controversial knight from the beginning.

In a lengthy interview with Entertainment Tonight, Coster-Waldau talked about his hopes for the embattled knight in the future. And although he didn't give up any spoilers for the upcoming final season of Game of Thrones, the 48-year-old shared some thoughts about where we left his character and what fans can expect next for Jaime. And once you read what he has to say, you'll agree that 2019 can't come soon enough. (As if you needed any more reasons to stress about the delay before Season 8.)

Looking at his journey from Season 1 to the upcoming Season 8 of Game of Thrones, Jaime Lannister has had a character evolution unlike almost any other on the show. At the beginning of the series, Jaime "was a bit of a douche," Coster-Waldau acknowledged to ET, before sketching out the journey that the role has taken him on since then:

"In Season 3, you felt this shift in the way that audiences perceived the character. They might have liked him as a character, but they didn’t like him as a person. But the nature of the show, you get to know someone more and more and it’s like, ‘OK, he’s having sex with his sister, but there’s more to this guy.’ And I think the fact that he left at the end of season seven, there was a sense of relief."

The actor pretty accurately describes the audience's relationship with Jaime. What started as an enjoyment of the character — no matter how messed up and cocky — slowly shifted into a genuine affection for the character as a person. From the very first episode, audiences have been given ample opportunities either to love or hate the skillful swordsman. But at nearly every step, he's been paired with a more galvanizing character who absorbs most of the audience reaction. Think about it — when Jaime is opposite Brienne of Tarth, his compassion, dedication, and nobility will always pale against her own. And since Jaime's twin sister Cersei pulls the strings when it comes to their relationship, he can never hope to match her in scheming, manipulation, or pure evil.

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In short, for seven seasons, he's been bookended between not only two strong women, but two opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of character: good and evil. But after years of riding the middle and playing both sides, Jaime has finally come into his own. The former Lord Commander of the Kingsguard made a choice at the end of Season 7 to distance himself from his queen and former lover, giving Jaime his first and best opportunity to craft his own identity as an individual.

In the Season 7 finale, when Cersei revealed that her pledge to join her former enemies to fight the Army of the Dead was merely a feint, Jaime asserted himself for the first time the only way he knows how: by leaving, marking his first real act of independence from her. As Coster-Waldau explained:

"We had seven years to build up to this moment where he finally says no to her. His whole life has been about trying to navigate around her and protect her and do whatever he could to do to be there for her. Now, suddenly, he can’t do what she wants him to do. She’s overstepped her boundaries, and clearly they have been stretching, but this time something snapped."

Audiences already knew that the incident was a pivotal moment in the series, but hearing Coster-Waldau speak on it from the perspective of the character takes things to a whole 'nother level.

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Jaime is finally getting a chance to make his own decisions, uncolored by the whims of those around him, so he'll have a lot of growing to do in the final episodes. And in addition to everything else there is to look forward to in GoT's Season 8, it's exciting to imagine how that will all play out.