From Douglas Fairbanks and Errol Flynn to Jack Nicholson and George Clooney, there has been no shortage of roguish leading men on-screen, one bad boy after another getting into all sorts of devilry while charming his way into audiences' hearts. But it's doubtful even Clark Gable could have stayed on the public's good side playing a part that required him, within the space of a single scene, to commit incest and then push a little boy out a high castle window, breaking his back. Not nice! But rising above such unpleasantness is the singular achievement of Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, the Danish actor who plays the callow nobleman Jaime Lannister on Game of Thrones, which will be starting its third season on HBO right about ... now. As both "King slayer" and child crippler-as well as unwholesomely attentive brother to his queen-regent twin sister-Jaime qualifies as one of the show's foremost villains, but Coster-Waldau, whose looks suggest a Nordic riff on Javier Bardem, plays Jaime with such wicked, winking aplomb that we found ourselves not altogether disappointed when he escaped execution last season, literally keeping his handsome head. Fans will also have the opportunity to see how Coster-Waldau fits into the future in Oblivion, the Tom Cruise science-fiction epic that debuts in April and looks like a remake of Battlefield Earth but happily isn't.
Esquire by Bruce Handy, April 2013.