Nikolaj Coster-Waldau

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Nikolaj Coster-Waldau
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau-68363.jpg
Coster-Waldau at the 72nd Berlin International Film Festival, 2022
Nikolaj William Coster-Waldau

(1970-07-27) 27 July 1970 (age 52)
Rudkøbing, Denmark
EducationDanish National School of Performing Arts
  • Actor
  • producer
Years active1993–present
(m. 1997)
RelativesJosef Motzfeldt (father-in-law)

Nikolaj William Coster-Waldau (Danish pronunciation: [ˈne̝koˌlɑjˀ ˈkʰʌstɐ ˈvæltɑw]; born 27 July 1970) is a Danish actor and producer. He graduated from the Danish National School of Performing Arts in Copenhagen in 1993,[1] and had his breakthrough role in Denmark with the film Nightwatch (1994). He played Jaime Lannister in the HBO fantasy drama series Game of Thrones, for which he received two Primetime Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series.

Coster-Waldau has appeared in numerous films in his native Denmark and Scandinavia, including Headhunters (2011) and A Thousand Times Good Night (2013). In the U.S, his debut film role was in the war film Black Hawk Down (2001), playing Medal of Honor recipient Gary Gordon.[2] He then played a detective in the short-lived Fox television series New Amsterdam (2008), and appeared in the 2009 Fox television film Virtuality, originally intended as a pilot. He is a UNDP Goodwill Ambassador, drawing public attention to issues such as gender equality and climate change.[3]

Early life[edit]

Coster-Waldau was born in Rudkøbing, Denmark, the son of Hanne Søborg Coster, a librarian,[4] and Jørgen Oscar Fritzer Waldau (died 1998). He has spoken in interviews about his father's problems with alcohol, as well as his parents' divorce.[4] He has two older sisters, and was raised mainly by his mother.[5] He grew up in Tybjerg, a small village between Ringsted and Næstved in southern Zealand.[4][5] Coster-Waldau attended the Danish National School of Theatre and Contemporary Dance (Danish: Statens Teaterskole) from 1989 to 1993.


Early career and breakthrough (1993–2000)[edit]

Coster-Waldau made his stage debut as Laertes in Hamlet at the Betty Nansen Theater. His role in the film Nightwatch (1994) brought him fame in his native country.[6] He then went on to play in Simon Staho's Wildside (1998), which he also cowrote, and starred in Danish films such as Misery Harbour (1999).[7] He starred in his first British film Bent (1997).[8]

Transition to United States film and television (2001–2010)[edit]

Coster-Waldau at the 2011 San Diego Comic-Con

In 2001, he began his U.S. career in Ridley Scott's Black Hawk Down as Medal of Honor recipient Gary Gordon. Coster-Waldau says "My first U.S. movie was Black Hawk Down and a friend helped me put myself on tape up on the attic over my apartment in Copenhagen. We shipped it out and I got lucky."[9] Coster-Waldau used his success to take roles on both sides of the Atlantic, particularly his native Scandinavia.[10]

He had a leading role in Michael Apted's Enigma and played a villain in the action film My Name is Modesty (based upon the Modesty Blaise comic strip). Scott brought Coster-Waldau back for the 2005 film Kingdom of Heaven. Richard Loncraine cast Coster-Waldau for Wimbledon and Firewall.[6] In 2007, he played John Amsterdam, an immortal New York homicide detective who becomes mortal after finding true love, in the short-lived Fox television series New Amsterdam.[11] As a result of filming that series' pilot, Coster-Waldau obtained his Screen Actors Guild card. He later recalled in a 2015 interview in TV Guide, "Finally getting my SAG card was huge for me...I got so excited I went straight to the SAG online shop and bought four mugs with SAG logo. [I] still have those mugs!"[12]

Mainstream and critical success (2011–present)[edit]

Coster-Waldau at the premiere of the third season of Game of Thrones in March 2013

From 2011 to 2019, Coster-Waldau played Jaime Lannister in the HBO series Game of Thrones, based on George R. R. Martin's fantasy novel series A Song of Ice and Fire. He commented about the character "What's not to like about Jaime? As an actor I couldn't ask for a better role".[9] For his role, he received several accolades, including Primetime Emmy Award, Screen Actors Guild Award, Critics' Choice Television Award,[13] Saturn Award[14] and People's Choice Award nominations.[15]

In 2011, he starred alongside Sam Shepard in Mateo Gil's feature Blackthorn, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival.[16] Later the same year he starred in Morten Tyldum's Headhunters. The film went on to be the highest-grossing Norwegian film of all-time[17] and received very positive reviews including a BAFTA Award nomination for Best Foreign Film.[18] Coster-Waldau starred in the 2013 horror film Mama alongside Jessica Chastain, which then debuted at number one in the US box office[19] and grossed over $140 million worldwide.[20] He went on to play Sykes, a military weapons expert in the science fiction action thriller film Oblivion. That same year, he co-starred with Juliette Binoche in Erik Poppe's drama A Thousand Times Good Night. In 2014, he starred in Susanne Bier's Danish thriller A Second Chance as Andreas, a police officer forced to make a difficult choice. In 2016, Coster-Waldau appeared in the action-fantasy film Gods of Egypt as Horus.

In early 2017, he starred in E.L. Katz's dark comedy Small Crimes[21] which premiered at South by Southwest film festival on 11 March 2017,[22] to positive reviews.[23] Coster-Waldau then appeared in the Danish film 3 Things, a thriller about a prime suspect of a bank robbery who negotiates the terms of his witness protection deal.[24][25] He starred in Roman Waugh's prison film Shot Caller, which premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival on 16 June 2017.[26][27] Since January 2018 he has been the L'Oréal Paris global spokesperson for the company's Men Expert line of products.[28]

In May 2017, it was announced that he starred in Brian De Palma's film Domino.[29] The film was released on May 31, 2019.[30] Later the same year he starred in Suicide Tourist by Jonas Alexander Arnby, which premiered at the Zurich Film Festival.[31][32] That same year, Coster-Waldau launched a production company named Ill Kippers.[33] He starred in The Silencing, a thriller directed by Robin Pront.[34][35]

He filmed in secret the movie The Day We Died (Krudttønden) by Ole Christian Madsen. The film is based on events surrounding the 2015 Copenhagen shootings and was originally slated for release for late 2019.[36] It was released in Europe on 3 May 2020.[37] On 7 January 2021, Variety announced that Samuel Goldwyn Films has purchased U.S. distribution rights for the film.[38]

He was to have played Macbeth in 2020, in a production of Shakespeare's tragedy reuniting with Matt Shakman at the Geffen Playhouse.[39] On 15 April 2020, the Geffen Playhouse announced on its blog that its production of Macbeth, among others, had been postponed because of the Covid pandemic.[40]

Personal life[edit]

Coster-Waldau with his wife Nukâka in 2022.

Although Coster-Waldau is not religious, he was baptized and confirmed as a Lutheran in the Danish National Church during his youth, like the vast majority of Danes, and viewed his confirmation as a big moment in his life when he first identified as becoming an adult.[41]

He married Nukâka, a Greenlandic actress and singer, in 1997,[42] and they live in Copenhagen with their two daughters[43][44] as well as two dogs.[45] Their daughter Filippa starred in a Danish short film, The Girl and the Dogs, which was shown at the Cannes Film Festival in 2014.[46][47] Their other daughter, Safina starred in a Danish Christmas TV-series named Theo og Den Magiske Talisman in December 2018 as the main character Simone.[48] The TV-series was watched by more than 700,000 people in December 2018.[49] His father-in-law is Josef Motzfeldt, a member of the Parliament of Greenland and former leader of the Community of the People party.

Although his father was a supporter of Arsenal, a trip to a match at the Elland Road ground in the early 1990s persuaded him to become a supporter of Leeds United, and he is a member of the Leeds United Supporters' Trust.[50]

In September 2017, Coster-Waldau signed on to narrate one of the fairytales for GivingTales, the celebrity storytelling app for children and adults alike. He is going to narrate "The Steadfast Tin Soldier", on which he commented, "I am from Denmark and Hans Christian Andersen is part of our culture and I am very proud being part of this project. 'The Steadfast Tin Soldier' is a beautiful love story which we can all relate to."[51]

UNDP ambassadorship and other humanitarian causes[edit]

Coster-Waldau has supported the Danish Red Cross since 2003.[52][53][54] In 2016, he announced a Game of Thrones campaign-contest in order to support the RED foundation which aims to raise awareness and fight AIDS.[55]

"My main mission as UNDP Goodwill Ambassador will be to raise awareness and support for the Global Goals for a better future for all, which cannot be achieved without empowering women and protecting our planet,"

—Coster-Waldau on his mission as UNDP Goodwill Ambassador in 2016[56]

Since September 2016, he has been serving as a UNDP Goodwill Ambassador to raise awareness and support the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals, an action to end poverty, fight inequality and stop climate change.[56] In 2017 Coster-Waldau partnered with Google, using Street View to document the impact of global warming in Greenland, in order to increase awareness and highlight climate change.[57] After participating in a female empowerment initiative in Kenya, on the occasion of International Women's Day in 2017, he wrote a pledge calling for all fathers to support gender equality and women's empowerment, including those women who live in extreme poverty and are exposed to practises like child marriage.[58] In September 2017 he was one of the speakers in The Spotlight Initiative, a European Union-United Nations action to eliminate violence against women and girls,[59] after kicking off the women's amateur World Cup.[60] In October 2017, he travelled to the Maldives to report global warming effects, resuming his role as a United Nations Development Program Goodwill Ambassador.[61][62]

Coster-Waldau at the 2019 San Diego Comic-Con

In early 2018, he and several other Danish artists signed a manifesto demanding zero tolerance for sexism, sexual harassment and sexual assault in the Danish film and stage arts industry.[63] In June 2018, he kicked off The Lion's Share fund's launch, an action in which when an advertising campaign uses an image of an animal, the advertiser will donate 0.5% of the paid media spending of that campaign to the fund.[64] In 2019, he travelled to Rwanda to report the progress of the country, and to Peruvian Amazonia on occasion of the Amazon rainforest wildfires to offer insights into the effects of climate change.[65][66]



Year Title Role Director Notes Ref(s)
1994 Nightwatch Martin Bork Ole Bornedal
1997 Bent Wolf Sean Mathias
Hemmeligheder Mads Jørn Faurschou
1998 Wildside Ossy Simon Staho Also writer
Nattens engel Frankie Shaky González
1999 The Cable Club Rocker Søren Fauli
Misery Harbour Espen Arnakke Nils Gaup
2000 På fremmed mark Holt Aage Rais-Nordentoft
2001 Enigma Puck Michael Apted
Black Hawk Down Gary Gordon Ridley Scott
2002 24 Hours in the Life of a Woman Anton Laurent Bouhnik
2003 Stealing Rembrandt Kenneth Jannik Johansen
The Bouncer Svend Jesper W. Nielsen
2004 My Name Is Modesty Miklos Scott Spiegel
The Good Cop Sune Lasse Spang Olsen
Wimbledon Dieter Prohl Richard Loncraine
2005 Kingdom of Heaven Village Sheriff Ridley Scott
The Headsman Martin Simon Aeby
2006 Firewall Liam Richard Loncraine
Triple Dare Martin Christina Rosendahl
2007 The Baker Bjorn Gareth Lewis
Wonderful and Loved by All Micke Hannes Holm
The Early Years: Erik Nietzsche Part 1 Sammy Jacob Thuesen
2008 The Kautokeino Rebellion Biskop Juell Nils Gaup
Himmerland Thomas James Barclay Also co-producer
2009 At World's End Severin Geertsen Tomas Villum Jensen
2011 Blackthorn James Jovin Mateo Gil
Headhunters Clas Greve Morten Tyldum
2012 Aurum Executive producer
2013 Mama Lucas / Jeffrey Desange Andrés Muschietti
Oblivion Sykes Joseph Kosinski
A Thousand Times Good Night Marcus Erik Poppe
2014 The Other Woman Mark King Nick Cassavetes
A Second Chance Andreas Susanne Bier
Upstart Executive producer
Livsforkortelses Ekspert Producer
2015 Klown Forever Himself Mikkel Nørgaard Cameo
2016 Gods of Egypt Horus Alex Proyas
Chicken / Egg Kenneth James D'Arcy Short film [67]
2017 Small Crimes Joe Denton E. L. Katz [68]
3 Things Mikael Jens Dahl Executive producer [25]
Shot Caller Jacob 'Money' Harlon Ric Roman Waugh [69]
2019 Domino Christian Brian De Palma [29][70]
Suicide Tourist Max Isaksen Jonas Alexander Arnby [32]
2020 Krudttønden Rico Ole Christian Madsen
The Silencing Rayburn Swanson Robin Pront [35]
2021 A Taste of Hunger Carsten Christoffer Boe
2022 Against the Ice Ejnar Mikkelsen Peter Flinth also co-writer and producer
TBA God Is a Bullet Not yet released Bob Hightower Nick Cassavetes Filming
Films that have not yet been released Denotes films that have not yet been released


Year Title Role Notes Ref.
1993 Slaget på tasken Christian Television film
1995 Who's Hitler? Nattevagten Television short
Lyse tider
1997 Jacobs liste Jacob Television film
2000 Lock, Stock... Jordi 2 episodes
2006 Filthy Gorgeous Alex Television film
2008 New Amsterdam John Amsterdam 8 episodes
2009 Virtuality Commander Frank Pike Television film
2009–2010 The Left Wing Gang Jan Weimann 5 episodes
2011–2019 Game of Thrones Jaime Lannister Main role; 55 episodes [71]
2015 Saturday Night Live Episode: "Taraji P. Henson/Mumford & Sons"
2017 The Simpsons Markery (voice) Episode: "The Serfsons" [72]
TBA The Last Thing He Told Me Owen Upcoming miniseries [73]


Year Title Role Venue Ref(s)
1992–93 Hamlet Laertes Betty Nansen Theater [8][74]
1994 Morgen og aften Colin Henderson Husets Theater [8][75]
1995 Privatliv Elyot Mungo Park [8][76]
Uidentificerede menneskerester og kærlighedens sande væsen Royal Danish Theatre [8][77]
1996 I en Fremmeds Øjne Daniel Café Teatret [78]
1997 Paradis Lars Emberg N. Cederholm/Dante [79]
Lovestory Martin Mungo Park [80]
2000 Drengene i Skyggen Christoffer Betty Nansen Theater [81]
2002 Becket Becket Gladsaxe Ny Teater [82]
2009 Øjeblikket Betty Nansen Theater [83]
2020 Macbeth Macbeth Geffen Playhouse [39]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Work Result Ref.
1994 Bodil Awards Best Actor Nightwatch Nominated
1999 Robert Awards Best Actor Wildside Nominated [84]
2003 The Bouncer Nominated [85]
2011 Scream Award Best Ensemble Game of Thrones Nominated [86]
Screen Actors Guild Award Best Ensemble in a Drama Series Nominated [87]
2013 People's Choice Awards Favorite TV Anti-Hero Nominated [88]
Critics' Choice Television Award Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series Nominated [89]
Satellite Awards Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film Nominated [90]
Saturn Award Best Supporting Actor on Television Nominated [91]
Gold Derby Awards Best Drama Supporting Actor Nominated [92]
Screen Actors Guild Award Best Ensemble in a Drama Series Nominated [93]
2014 Screen Actors Guild Award Best Ensemble in a Drama Series Nominated [94]
2015 Screen Actors Guild Award Best Ensemble in a Drama Series Nominated [95]
Empire Awards Empire Hero Award (shared with cast) Won [96]
2016 Screen Actors Guild Award Best Ensemble in a Drama Series Nominated [97]
2017 Zulu Award Best Actor Nominated [98]
Nordisk Film Fond Ove Sprogøe Award Won [99]
Screen Actors Guild Award Best Ensemble in a Drama Series Game of Thrones Nominated [100]
2018 Saturn Awards Best Supporting Actor on a Television Series Nominated [101]
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series Nominated [102]
2019 Saturn Awards Best Supporting Actor on Television Nominated [103]
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series Nominated


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