The actor said the online criticism was "extraordinarily intense"

By Aurelie Corinthios
July 15, 2019 02:20 PM
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Game of Thrones weathered some serious criticism over the course of its final season — and according to actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, it weighed on some of his costars.

Speaking on a panel at a Game of Thrones convention in Nashville over the weekend, the actor, who played Jaime Lannister, said the cast discussed the “intense” online criticism over a group chat.

“Every season has been intense in terms of the attention and discussion, but it was extraordinarily intense for a final season,” he said, according to The Huffington Post. “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 [starting to read] all that s— … because if [the fans] get really angry about something ― I’m sure you did, some of you ― so you write to each other and go, ‘F—ing a–holes. This is so not what would happen! They ruined, they butchered George [R. R. Martin]‘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 eighth and final season of the HBO show was criticized for editing mishaps, dimly lit battle scenes and what some fans argued were rushed storylines. The series finale, in particular, faced some of the harshest backlash, prompting viewers to launch a petition calling for the final season to be remade with different writers. The petition, launched on change.org, racked up over 1.6 million signatures.

“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,” Coster-Waldau said at the convention. “And also know that they, too, read the comments. … They really ― like everyone on Game of Thrones, every single person, and there are thousands ― we worked our a–es off to make the best show we could for the ending.”

Helen Sloan/HBO

Coster-Waldau, 48, isn’t the first Game of Thrones star to defend the final season.

“People always have an idea in their heads of how they want a show to finish, and so when it doesn’t go to their liking, they start to speak up about it and rebel,” Sophie Turner told The New York Times.

“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,” continued the 23-year-old actress, who played Sansa Stark. “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.”

Isaac Hempstead Wright, whose character Bran Stark ultimately prevailed as King, called the petition “absurd.”

“I can’t even fathom it. It’s just ridiculous,” he told The Hollywood Reporter. “It’s ridiculous that people think they can just demand a different ending because they don’t like it. I have stupidly taken it quite personally, which obviously I shouldn’t. In my opinion, it’s a great ending.”

Kit Harington, who played Jon Snow, has also been outspoken in his defense of the show. (He also sought treatment for “personal issues” earlier this summer. A source told PEOPLE he’d struggled with fame: “He took it very seriously, but it was extremely stressful. Ultimately, now that he has that break and has said goodbye to Jon Snow, he needed help to figure things out and be himself — to just be Kit.”)

“I think no matter what anyone thinks about this season — and I don’t mean to sound mean about critics here — but whatever critic spends half an hour writing about this season and makes their negative judgment on it, in my head they can go f— themselves,” the actor told Esquire in April.

Harington, 32, also pointed out how hard the cast and crew had worked over the past decade.

“I know how much work was put into this. I know how much people cared about this,” he said. “I know how much pressure people put on themselves and I know how many sleepless nights working or otherwise people had on this show. Because they cared about it so much. Because they cared about the characters. Because they cared about the story. Because they cared about not letting people down.”

“Now if people feel let down by it, I don’t give a f—,” he added. “That’s how I feel.”