[Editor’s Note: The following article contains spoilers for “Game of Thrones” Season 8, Episode 4, “The Last of the Starks.”]
The most recent episode of “Game of Thrones” took many fans by surprise when Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie) lost her virginity to Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). The twist was especially upsetting for Tormund (Kristofer Hivju), the wildling who has spent the last three seasons pining for Brienne and trying to win her love. In an interview with Vulture, Hivju said he understood Brienne’s choice even if it meant heartbreak for his own character.
“I must say on behalf of Tormund, of all his approaches, she has never shown him a single centimeter of affection,” Hivju said. “And Jaime and Brienne have a long story together. So on some level, I can understand her. But when you saw how the episode turned out, you could avoid a lot of crying if you just went with the guy who loves you the most!”
While Tormund’s love for Brienne has been played for laughs over the last several “Thrones” seasons, Hivju said he hopes fans realized that his character’s affections were real. When Tormund realized Brienne would not be pursuing a romantic relationship with him, Hivju said he made a specific choice to have the character cry in order for fans to realize his emotions are serious. “Even though this has been a running joke throughout the last three seasons, I have always taken Tormund’s love for Brienne seriously,” the actor said. “Yes, he’s in love. No doubt about that.”
“Brienne has been mocked all her life because she’s tall, because she’s a warrior, because she’s different. And I didn’t want there to be any irony in that,” Hivju continued. “Tormund doesn’t ironize. For him, she’s perfect because in the North, women should be the warriors, you know? That’s a value in the North to be strong and tall and skillful with the sword. So even though it’s been a joke, Tormund’s love has always been real.”
While the Brienne/Tormund/Jamie love triangle came to a head in the episode, titled “The Last of the Starks,” most people spent the hours after the episode aired talking about a paper coffee cup that mistakingly got left in a shot. The cup has taken on mythic proportions on social media and Hivju has a list of names he thinks could be the culprit.
“The suspects are of course Kit Harington, Emilia Clarke, me, and David [Benioff] and Dan [Weiss], the creators, because they were in the scene playing Wildlings,” Hivju said, “So they are suspects as well.”
HBO digitally removed the cup from the episode. The final season of “Game of Thrones” only has two episodes left. The show airs Sunday nights at 9pm ET on HBO.