"Game of Thrones" stars defend disturbing sex scene: "It wasn't rape"

Lena Headey and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau spoke to EW about the scene everybody was talking about last season

Published April 7, 2015 9:05PM (EDT)

Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in "Game of Thrones"           (HBO)
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in "Game of Thrones" (HBO)

As we gear up for "Game of Thrones"' season five premiere on Sunday, Entertainment Weekly asked stars Lena Headey and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau to talk about season four's controversial sex scene, in which Jaime Lannister forces himself on his sister Cersei in front of their dead son (for a great take, read our own Sonia Saraiya over at the A.V. Club). When it aired, the scene ignited a firestorm among critics, who questioned the showrunners' decisions to turn what is depicted as a consensual scene in the books into a rape scene.

While they’ve both touched on it before, both of the scene's participants were willing to discuss the scene more openly than they have in the past, and both agreed that the scene was never intended to depict 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,” Headey told EW. “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.”

“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,” Coster-Waldau explained in a separate interview with Ew. “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.”

Coster-Waldau went on to say that he was surprised at the outrage the scene provoked, and suggests that viewers felt “a sense of betrayal” at Jaime's transition away from his newfound nice guy persona. “I think people had invested in the Jaime and Brienne storyline. She brought out the best in him, and he helped her and saved her. And then he goes and wants to have sex with his evil sister. Everything he does makes sense—Jaime keeps saying, ‘I have to get back.’ He says to Brienne, ‘We don’t get to chose who we love.’ He loves his sister. So I think there was a sense of betrayal, that ‘that’s not supposed to happen.’"

Back when the scene first aired, episode director Alex Graves sparked further backlash by telling HitFix that the scene wasn't rape because it "becomes consensual by the end," and "because anything for them ultimately results in a turn-on, especially a power struggle."

Author George R. R. Martin also weighed in last year, saying "the scene was always intended to be disturbing... but I do regret if it has disturbed people for the wrong reasons."

By Anna Silman

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Cersei Lannister Game Of Thrones Jaime Lannister Lena Headey Nikolaj Coster-waldau Tv