Game of Thrones' final season might've gotten a wintry response from some parts of its audience, but at least one actor is ready to defend the writers whose Season 8 scripts caused so much fuss in the fandom.
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau appeared alongside fellow Game of Thrones stars Jerome Flynn, Hannah Murray, and Miltos Yerolemou for a Con of Thrones Q&A event in Nashville this weekend. As seen in a video from Winter Is Coming, the cast was asked about all the criticism of the show's pacing problems in the final season. And even though the show's co-creators correctly predicted the finale would stir up backlash, Coster-Waldau insisted that David Benioff and D.B. Weiss worked hard crafting the show's ending.
Coster-Waldau began by noting that he was proud to be involved something so popular and important to people that it would warrant so much attention. "We're so lucky to be part of a show where people love the show so much that they care so much about it that you also get upset it doesn't go the way you wanted it," he said.
"I loved that there was an online petition to have it re-written," said the actor, referring to the 1.6 million signatures-strong petition to re-do the final season with new writers. But his use of the word "love" may have been a bit tongue-in-cheek, since he then jokingly compared it to the petition that demanded Netflix cancel Good Omens — even though it was a single-season show on Amazon Prime Video.
Coster-Waldau also attempted to dispel the idea that showrunners Benioff and Weiss phoned in the final season so that they could move on to their next job of creating a new Star Wars film series. "For anyone to imagine or to think that the two creators of this show are not the most passionate, the greatest, the most invested of all, and to think for a second that they didn't spend the last 10 years thinking about how they were going to end it is kind of silly," he said.
The actor said that the duo, who famously promised to be far, far away from the internet on the night the finale aired, were very much affected by the fans' vitriol. "Know that they too read the comments, and it is — even though you're sitting on your own and going, 'F---ing 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," Coster-Waldau explained.
The actor had previously defended Benioff and Weiss after the finale aired in May, telling Entertainment Weekly, "I don't think they could have done it any better. It makes sense. There's a logic to it without it being obvious at all."
During the same panel, according to The Huffington Post, Coster-Waldau added that he and his co-stars have a running group chat on WhatsApp and that some members of the team took it harder than others when they read fans' responses to the final episodes. "Every season has been intense in terms of the attention and discussion, but it was extraordinarily intense for a final season," he said. "We have this WhatsApp group, the actors, and I saw some people getting a little upset because some of the stuff is vicious. [...] There was that kind of weird feeling of, 'What the hell? We worked so hard.'"
We'll find out soon enough whether and how those fan responses to the final season affect the show's chances of collecting more Emmys this year, or if some of the show's most underdecorated actors might finally get some notice.
Game of Thrones Seasons 1-8 are available on HBO.