'Game of Thrones' star Nikolaj Coster-Waldau is celebrated for his laid-back nature during interviews, discussing such aspects as sleeping with his sister (onscreen!) for 'Game of Thrones', and being the worst thing about 'Oblivion' where his co-stars were Tom Cruise and Morgan Freeman.
Today, he's talking about being outshone by his co-star in psychological thriller 'Mama', one Jessica Chastain, how he was inspired by Tom Cruise's work ethic, and what scares him proper...
Your character is a very gentle soul.
We meet Lucas (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau's character) five years after his brother was lost, and he has been looking for him. The way we see it he was his only family, and there is also that weird guilt feeling in a way because his brother did something really horrible. When they find the kids, it is important for him to rectify, to save these kids, if you will, because clearly they have been traumatised. I enjoyed playing a good guy.
'Mama' sees Coster-Waldau sharing the screen with an almost unrecognisable Jessica Chastain
You have two daughters in real life. Did that make this movie more relatable for you? What could you bring to it?
Of course, a point was I did make sure that I established an active relationship off-camera with the girls that they felt they could relax around me and feel comfortable. I become like the surrogate father in the movie. I think no matter what you play, you always use yourself because that is all you have. I could not pinpoint what exactly it is.
Do you like horror movies?
I am terrible with horror. I like horror. I like good movies. One of my favorite movies is 'The Shining' (1980), and that is as scary as it gets, but at the same time I find it is horrible to watch it because I sweat and cover myself. I actually read somewhere that they measured how many calories you burn from watching movies, and horror movies are way, way up [on the list].
What did you do to get the scar on your head?
That was from when I was a kid. It is a little related. I grew up in this tiny little village of forty people that was built around an old farm, so the houses were built for the workers, and of course now there are no workers. It is all machines. There was a church, then our house was down here, and the only light in the street was this phone booth. I was sure there were corpses and ghosts in the church, and at night I would run home. It was only 100 meters, but just that sprint would end with me going through the door. I flew through the glass door [once]. I told my mum it was not because I was scared. It was always because I was scared of the dark, so I would just run like crazy. You know when you are running and you think you hear something?
'I didn't know much about Jessica Chastain,' explains Nikolaj Coster-Waldau
What scares you in real life?
In real life? I am a parent, and you worry about your kids. That is the thing. It is weird, but the thought of something happening to them is scary.
What has being in 'Game Of Thrones' meant for your career?
It has not hurt for sure. I am sure that everything is connected, but how exactly it works I do not know.
Do you get more offers?
For the same type of role?
There are, but it is not just medieval stuff. There is some of that too, but I am very lucky with the mix.
What was it like working with Tom Cruise on the set of 'Oblivion'?
It is one of those things where you meet someone - and he has been so ridiculously famous for 30 years - and whether you want to or not, you have a whole world of stories and craziness in your head. He is a very nice guy, and I really enjoyed working with him. This was an action movie with a lot of physical work, and most guys in his position would step back maybe a little bit and allow the stunt guys to do some work. I have never seen anybody work as hard and as dedicated, so that was very inspiring.
What was that like?
It was great. I am really looking forward to seeing the movie because it is a sci-fi/action movie. I saw the artwork that director Joseph Kosinksi (Oblivion) made with his team, and so much of the movie was created after in post-production. It was a great experience.
It was really surprising for us to see Jessica Chastain (Annabel) with this rocker look in 'Mama' (2013). How did she surprise you on set?
Her karaoke skills. They are brilliant. She is a great actress. I, like the rest of the world, did not know much about Jessica [Chastain] until last year because she came out in five movies. I had just seen 'Tree Of Life' (2011), so I could ask her what it was about, which is great. She is just a brilliant actress, and when you work with someone like that it just makes you better, which is great.
Do you hang out with other Scandinavian actors?
When I meet them.
Did you have to audition for the role of Lucas?
I did. I spoke to them first, and I gave them what I thought would be interesting. Then to have my girlfriend be Jessica Chastain, it worked out.
What did you think of the script when you read it?
I liked the beginning because you start with this very basic story of this horrible, everyday story from the back pages of the paper where a guy goes crazy and kills his wife and family. It begins like that, and then suddenly it becomes something different. I thought the ambition of trying to have this ghost - it is not just a bad, evil ghost, it is motivated and she wants her kids back - and to get that emotional connection all the way to the very end was interesting. You have an ending that is not just a happy ending, there is a bit of a split there.
'Mama' is out now on DVD and Blu-Ray. Watch the trailer below...