Nikolaj Coster-Waldau Defends the Game of Thrones Writers From the Season Eight Criticism

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Game of Thrones’ final season divided fans, and those who weren’t onboard with the way things shook out for Jon Snow, Arya Stark, and Westeros’ other heroes didn’t keep quiet about it. Millions signed a petition asking to have the season remade, others Google bombed the phrase “bad writers” so that searches for the term would return Thrones showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss’s names as the top result. But in appearances at a Nashville Thrones convention this weekend, Jaime Lannister star Nikolaj Coster-Waldau let fans know that the criticism stung.

HuffPost reports that during a panel appearance at Con of Thrones, Coster-Waldau came to the showrunners’ defense against claims that they hadn’t put enough effort into the series’s last season.

“For anyone to imagine or to think that the two creators of the show are not the most passionate, the greatest, the most invested of all, and to for a second think that they didn’t spend the last 10 years thinking about how they were going to end it is kind of silly,” he said. “And also know that they too read the comments. And it is—even though you sit on your own and go, ‘Fucking stupid writers. Assholes.’ They really—like everyone on Game of Thrones, every single person and there are thousands―we worked our asses off to make the best show we could for the ending.”

According to the actor, Benioff and Weiss weren’t the only people reading the comments. Coster-Waldau also said that some of his co-stars raised the criticism in the cast’s group chat. “We have this WhatsApp group, the actors, and I saw some people getting a little upset because some of the stuff is vicious,” he later told fans at a Q&A. “There was that kind of weird feeling of, ‘What the hell? We worked so hard. I’m not asking anyone to feel sorry, by the way, that’s not what I’m saying. I’m just saying how it was to get through that whole thing.”

Other Thrones stars have also responded to the criticism Season Eight faced. “All of these petitions and things like that—I think it’s disrespectful to the crew, and the writers, and the filmmakers who have worked tirelessly over 10 years, and for 11 months shooting the last season,” Sophie Turner told The New York Times in May. “Like 50-something night shoots. So many people worked so, so hard on it, and for people to just rubbish it because it’s not what they want to see is just disrespectful.”

And Jon Snow actor Kit Harington got out ahead of the detractors. “I don’t mean to sound mean about critics here,” he told Esquire before the show’s April premier, “but whatever critic spends half an hour writing about this season and makes their [negative] judgement on it, in my head they can go fuck themselves. ‘Cause I know how much work was put into this.”

Gabrielle Bruney is a writer and editor for Esquire, where she focuses on politics and culture.