Nikolaj Coster-Waldau on 'Game of Thrones' Prequel House of the Dragon,' Judging CanneSeries, Cannon
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau is a long way from Westeros. The Danish actor, whose two-time Emmy-nominated role as Jamie Lannister in Game of Thrones made him a global star, is spending the week on the Mediterranean, watching the international series that could be the next Game Of Thrones.
Coster-Waldau is the director of the jury for the 2021 CanneSeries international television festival. Together with his fellow jurors Israeli screenwriter Sigal Avin, French actor Naidra Ayadi, Italian actor Salvatore Esposito, and French DJ Marco Prince he will choose the winners of this years competition. Its roster is diverse and cosmopolitan, with influences ranging from Israeli dramas Sad City Girls and Unknowns to Russian mystery series Dreams of Alice to French spy drama Totems and Norwegian culture-clash comedy Countrymen.
Coster-Waldau spoke with The Hollywood Reporters European Bureau Chief Scott Roxborough, via Zoom, about devouring the latest TV show Squid Game, how global streaming has brought the world closer together, and what he thinks of the upcoming Game of Thrones prequel House of The Dragon.
You were on a show that was the world's most frequently debated and discussed show. What is it like to be on the other side of that and to actually be judging other peoples work?
Well, its been a lot of fun and it's certainly been interesting. When they asked me, I responded very quickly, because I think its an interesting time [in international television]. When you used to speak about internationally successful shows, shows that had a worldwide reach, you would almost always be speaking about an American show or an English-speaking show, because the wisdom was that those were the only ones that people wanted to watch.
Then came streaming, which I believe was met with a lot of trepidation and fear about what streaming was going to do to creativity. What would that have to do to the stories being told? Are we going to have less variety, less diversity? Its been interesting to see that almost the opposite has happened. People werent watching shows from other parts of the world, not because they didn t want to, but because there was no access. You couldnt just turn on the television and watch a Serbian or Russian show. Now its possible.
I mean the fact that a South Korean television show [Squid Game] is the worlds biggest right now you wouldnt have guessed that just fewer months ago.... I was watching 'a Russian show here in competition' the other day. I wont say what I think, but I was sitting there and I realized that they are going through the same feeling with the exact sh** we are dealing with. We live in a very divided world [and] theres something about sitting and watching 'A Day in the Life' and realizing were all just human beings, all of us, and whether we live differently in different countries or different cultures, we're dealing with the same struggles and hopes as everyone else.
What have been some of the recent shows, not from CanneSeries competition, that you have become obsessed with?
Michaela Coel's I May Destroy You was the last show that I was particularly impressed with, and I think I'm pretty sure I would be blown away by it. I'm sure I was late to the party on that one, but I felt so inspired by it on so many levels. The fact that she took such a personal, painful experience and turned it into such an incredible show with such beautiful performances and sharp writing. That was the last time I really was taken aback and inspired.
I also thoroughly enjoyed Squid Game. There I was just curious what the hell this biggest show in the world was. So I checked it out. I thought it was a great film, and I felt it represented oblivion in midst of waking up to the fact that the world's biggest movie is about life and death, raising some interesting questions about the global challenges, such as extreme inequality.
What are you and your fellow CanneSeries jurors using to evaluate the competition?
Of course, we talked about this. The jury and I, we all agreed that we must choose the show we like the most. So, the criteria are what really blew us away, and that's the whole package. The one where when you watch you go: this is a f**king great story. This is just a great show. Because its also crucial for me that we avoid playing to a certain side, to, for lack of emojis, pick the politically correct show. Because the best shows lie beyond that. So it will be what we like the most. Of course, we have five members on the jury, and taste is individual.
I'm now legally obligated to ask you about Game of Thrones.
Its interesting that this option has been added to every contract for every journalist. I believe it will be terminated in 2022, however.
I dont know if you saw HBO Maxs footage of the Game of Thrones prequel House of The Dragon, which will be released next year. But I was wondering, personally for you, since you're done with the show, a show that had such resounding success worldwide, and for yourself, how it feels to see it return?
I was intrigued when I saw the teaser trailer that they released. Matt Smith in that beautiful white wig, I thought it was a great visual experience. And, listen, Im as curious as everyone [to see it].
But it's a totally different show. Its its own show. I just hope its great. I hope the success of Game of Thrones wont put people off when they watch this new series. It took a while for us to get into Game of Thrones. I remember people saying during the first season, theyre too many characters, I dont know whats going on! I dont think they have the luxury we had. Theyll be compared to where we were in season four or five, because thats what theyre going to be. But I really hope its a huge hit for them.