'Game of Thrones': Lena Headey, Coster-Waldau talk season 2 scheming

GOT-WALDAU-HEADEY

Image Credit: HBO

For Game of Thrones season 2, expect to see more of one evil twin, and slightly less of the other.

Queen Regent Cersei (Lena Headey) has more screen time this year, while her twincest counterpart Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) awaits his fate in captivity.

For Headey, this means plenty of dramatic scenes with her less-loved brother Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) and her monstrous son, King Joffrey (Jack Gleeson). “You get a real glimpse into her guilt as a mother and her fear of what she’s created,” says Headey, whose several cool tattoos get covered by makeup to play Cersei. “She’s just starting to slightly crumble and feel the reality of her world. There’s a lot of drinking … also massive denial about her son’s behavior.”

Cersei’s isolation will prompt her to confide in a very unlikely person. “There’s a moment where she absolutely shows Tyrion her true self,” she hints. “He becomes like a sort of confidante — almost — because she has nobody else.”

Expect the queen to also continue her “masochistic mentor relationship” with Joffrey’s bride-to-be, Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner). “She can’t help but torture her,” Headey says. “I think that’s driven by her envy. She’s just f–king mean all season.”

Adds Turner: “Sansa’s kind of suffering at the hands of Joffrey and she literally has no one this season, so you’re gonna see her grow a lot.”

Cersei’s icy heart is softened only by her dear brother Jaime, but at the start of the season he’s being held captive by Robb Stark, and dragged from one battle encampment to the next. “He is away from [his sister] and it drives him crazy,” Coster-Waldau says. “So he’s not in a happy place. He says it himself this season that he is not quite well equipped for imprisonment.”

Like his character, Coster-Waldau wasn’t too thrilled about being locked up. “As an actor, I hated it,” he says. “But it makes sense. It makes sense for the journey that Jaime’s on. [And] I have some scenes this season that are the most fun I’ve had as an actor.”

One of the interesting things about the Thrones universe is that most of the romantic relationships are initially transactional. They’re often for money or power or security. Cersei and Jaime’s relationship is twisted, but it’s one of the few couplings motivated by love despite enormous risk. “It’s ironic, but it’s true,” Coster-Waldau agrees. “All these other players are like pawns in this game that just get moved around by their families. But these two … what they have it was just too powerful too ignore.”

Jaime Lannister arguably committed the most egregious sin in the show, by trying to murder a young boy in the first episode. Yet Coster-Waldau says that scene, and Jaime’s pivotal line, helps define his character.

“I think the core of Jaime Lannister is actually that final line in the pilot when he says, ‘the things I do for love,’” he says. “He might do horrible things — and they are truly, some of them, horrific. There’s no excuses. But he does it out of what he sees as a necessity, out of love. If this kid tells the world what he’s seen, the woman I love will be killed, and the children we have will be killed. That was kind of my hook to this guy. Also, the thing that defines him, in public, is that he’s the kingslayer and has done this horrible deed. Now, again, the way he sees it, he knows things others don’t know because he was so close to the Mad King. He sees it is his proudest moment. The rest of the world doesn’t share that view. But I like that whole theme of how people perceive us vs. how we perceive ourselves and how those things aren’t necessarily the same. I think we can all relate to that.”

UPDATE: ‘Game of Thrones’ showrunners on season 2, splitting Book 3 and their hope for a 70-hour epic

PREVIOUS: Our season two interviews with Peter Dinklage, Emilia Clarke and Jack Gleeson. Plus come back Friday morning for a new two-page Thrones interview.

Also: Check out our recaps of the first season here — and be sure to go to EW.com this Sunday night for our Thrones season 2 premiere recap. Buy EW’s Thrones cover story here.

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