“She’s not naked?” Nikolaj Coster-Waldau is a little taken aback by his Game Of Thrones co-star Emilia Clarke’s GQ photo shoot. “That makes a change!” Best known for playing Jaime Lannister in the notoriously clothes-repellent fantasy series, the 41-year-old Dane is here today to talk about his role in the film adaptation of Norwegian crime-writer Jo Nesbø’s blackly comic Headhunters. A heist movie that escalates into a Coen Brothers-esque cat-and-mouse pursuit across Scandinavia, Coster-Waldau plays a character he describes as “an alpha-alpha male, dashing and extremely well-dressed”. To mark the release of Headhunters in cinemas, here he discusses the most beautiful Game Of Thrones fan he ever laid eyes on, the stubbornness of English football fans and one particularly eye-watering encounter with a doctor…
What did you think when you first read the script for Headhunters?
I loved the fact that the main guy is such an idiot and that he’s not very nice. Within seconds of the movie starting you see him being unfaithful and on top of that treating that girl like she’s worthless. The script has so many twists and turns and surprises. It’s a great story.
Will you audition to play your character again when the film is remade for America?
I don’t know! I haven’t thought about it. It’s great that it’s being talked about, though. The fact is when a film with subtitles comes out in America it will only find a limited audience. If they can sell it and make some money then that’s great.
You’re very well dressed at the start of the film. What were you wearing?
I’ve never tried on so many suits for a role! We ended up with Paul Smith for the film. I loved them, but personally I wouldn’t spend that much money on a suit. Today I’m wearing a… [Looks for tag] Boss Selection suit jacket – clearly not bought by myself! The trainers are Reebok. I like to wear beautiful clothes but I don’t have that many.
Can you recommend a good book?
The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson. I guess with any story it’s the characters that pull you in and I love the way he tells the story of those friends.
Are you looking forward to Euro 2012 this summer?
I’m feeling very confident although we Danes aren’t quite as mad as you guys are. My best friend is English so I know that at every World Cup and Euros you manage to convince yourselves that you’re going to win it. You set yourselves for that horrible, horrible despair when you crash out on penalties against Germany. Actually one of the greatest matches I ever saw was at Wembley during Euro ’96 between Scotland and England. That was an incredible game. Remember Gascoigne’s goal and then his celebration? Just amazing.
Are there any members of the Game Of Thrones cast you haven’t seen naked?
Let me think. I’ve seen Sean Bean naked. I’ve seen Mark Addy. And Lena. I haven’t seen the kids of course, but all the adults. We do that at the read-through. We just strip naked and read the script.
Given that there’s even an official Game Of Thrones cook book, what’s the best thing you can cook?
I do a really wicked chicken where I stuff Parma ham under its skin.
What’s been your strangest fan experience?
I was very lucky to be invited to ComicCon last year. That was a tremendous experience. We were sat on this panel and to see all the fans and their passion and energy was incredible. A lot of people in costume, of course. In the show Emilia Clarke plays this character called Daenerys Targaryen and I remember seeing an Asian Daenerys Targaryen at ComicCon. She was quite stunning. A beautiful vision.
Have you met Game Of Thrones creator George RR Martin?
Yes, he’s a very sweet man and very proud of his work, as he should be. I guess in that situation every actor wants to ask whether their character is going to survive, but I didn’t. I kept my pride. He was very gracious.
What can you tell us about your upcoming role in Oblivion alongside Tom Cruise?
Well, I can tell you that it’s directed by Joe Kosinski and based on a story he came up with along with Barry Levine. The script is by William Monahan. I play a guy called Sykes. Apart from Tom Cruise there’s also Morgan Freeman, Andrea Riseborough and Olga Kurylenko. It’s set in the not too distant future and that’s about all I can tell you! I play a pretty traumatised man, that’s all I’ll say.
What’s the worst pain you’ve ever experienced?
I’ll tell you that, but it will make you feel the pain too. I once had a urinary infection. That was fine, but in Denmark when you have that, as a man, if you’re under the age of 50 they call you in for a test. I thought it was a test to check how much power your piss has. I went in and they sent me down to examination room number three. There was a nurse waiting for me. She asked me to undress, so I did. I asked her what we were doing, and she just said that they wanted to have “a look”. So I’m lying there and she puts a little bit of gel on my willy. I asked her what it was for and she said it was so that it wouldn’t hurt so much. Then the doctor came in with this big thing and said: “Let’s have a look at it, then!” He had this big, bendy camera. Then he inserted it into my penis. That pain was beyond painful. So the lesson is never let anyone put a camera up your penis. Afterwards he asked me if I wanted him to have a look at the other one. He had another big thing to go in the arse. I told him I was alright.
I don’t blame you.
There was a TV screen showing what they could see but I was in too much pain to look at it. I remember he’d put it in and I was screaming in agony and then he said: “Right, now the worst pain is still to come.” He had to force his way inside because the bladder closes up. Every time he moved it was horrible.
I’m glad I’ve managed to avoid requiring too much medical attention to my penis.
You’re very lucky. When I was 21 I went to a music festival and met a girl who gave me two presents that I didn’t discover until I got back. Two great venereal diseases.
Which festival was that at?
That was at Roskilde, which is a huge festival in Denmark with just as much mud as Glastonbury. I’ve seen some amazing bands there. A couple of years back I saw Nick Cave, not with the Bad Seeds but with Grinderman and they really delivered. He was great.