HBO’s big-budget fantasy series “Game of Thrones” is famous for its shocking moments of brutality, to the point that it’s kind of expected.
SEASON 4 SPOILERS AHEAD
Yet the series came under fire during last year’s fourth season for a scene where Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) seemingly forces his sister and lover, Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey), to have sex with him by their child’s corpse. Critics have cried rape, but the scene itself is done in a way that’s not quite clear.
This week, the two actors at the center of the controversy have spoken about the scene in the lead-up to the new season and say that rape was not the intention. Headey tells EW the scene was ‘never meant’ to be about a rape:
“It’s that terrible thing as a women-talking about something as horrendous as rape and dismissing it, which I’m not. But we never discussed it as that. It was a woman in grief for her dead child, and the father of the child-who happens to be her brother-who never really acknowledged the children is standing with her.
We’ve all experienced grief. There’s a moment of wanting to fill a void, and that is often very visceral, physical. That, for me, is where she was at. There was an emotional block, and [her brother] was just a bit of a drug for her.”
Coster-Waldau seemed less certain than Headey about how the scene was received, even if he also says the intent was not rape:
“I’ve spoken to a lot of people [privately] about this. I haven’t spoken to the people who got the most upset, because they were online. Most people I spoke to got from the scene what we were trying to show – a very complicated relationship, and two people in desperate need for each other. All these emotions going through them, it was never intended to be something where he forced – it wasn’t a rape, and it was never intended to be.
But it’s one of those things where you can’t [publicly] say ‘it wasn’t rape,’ because then everybody goes, ‘How can you say it wasn’t rape?!’ But that was definitely not the intention. Of course, whatever people get from it, they get from it. But it did surprise me. I thought the outrage would be about that they were having sex in front of their dead son”
Coster-Waldau adds that some of the reaction was also due to “almost a sense of betrayal” by people who had invested in the Jaime and Brienne storyline and how she brought out the good things in him, and “then he goes and wants to have sex with his evil sister”.
The fifth season takes the show in a new direction, with the divide between Cersei and Jaime to grow wider. Where this troubled relationship goes, we’ll find out when the new season begins this Sunday April 12th.