NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Agitated WhatsApp messages are coming.
The final season of “Game of Thrones” was by far its most controversial, with fan complaints of rushed storylines, unearned twists and episodes that were too dim to see, leading to the show’s lowest ratings on Rotten Tomatoes, a nonstop stream of online criticism and even a viral fan petition calling for it to be remade.
On Saturday, actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau addressed the controversial season at two different panels during the “Game of Thrones” fan convention, Con of Thrones, in Nashville.
At a small fan Q-and-A panel, the actor who played Jaime Lannister called the online criticism “intense,” saying it even crept into the show’s WhatsApp group.
“Every season has been intense in terms of the attention and discussion, but it was extraordinarily intense for a final season,” the actor said. “And we have this WhatsApp group, the actors, and I saw some people getting a little upset because some of the stuff is vicious, and if you make the mistake of start reading all that shit, because if you guys get really angry about something ― I’m sure you did, some of you ― so you write to each other and go, ‘Fucking assholes. This is so not what would happen! They ruined, they butchered George’s world!’ It’s just fun for you, but of course some got a little upset.”
“There was that kind of weird feeling of, ‘What the hell? We worked so hard,’” he continued. “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.”
The Season 8 episode “The Long Night,” which reportedly took 55 nights to shoot, really kicked off the wave of criticism for its especially dark aesthetic. Coster-Waldau acknowledged that unless you were watching it in a cinema, it was difficult to always tell what was going on. Still, Ser Jaime Lannister did not agree with all the fan critiques, especially when it came to the writers.
At an earlier panel, moderated by Jason Concepcion and Mallory Rubin of the “Binge Mode” podcast, the actor defended showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss, who have faced the brunt of the online backlash, with fans believing they didn’t want to write for the show anymore and were more concerned about moving on to other projects, such as “Star Wars.” The criticism has included everything from the aforementioned petition to fans trying to bring the pair to the top of the search results on Google for “bad writers.”
“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.”
In a later answer during the Q and A, after one fan expressed how much the show had meant to them, Coster-Waldau said, “I just wish Dan and David could be here to hear this, to understand that people really love the show, that suddenly they’re not the most hated people in the world. I mean, because that’s how they might ― I know how they feel.”
You can watch one of the panels below.