During keynotes for a Zoom interview with an actor, a reporter often finds out that the person they’re interviewing is in their Los Angeles office; a hotel in Manhattan where the press conference was held; or sometimes, in a car being taken to an airport.
Talking to actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, famous for playing Jamie Lannister game of Thrones, “Where are you now?” It was replied, “I’m in Nuuk, Greenland.”
The Danish actor’s wife is from Greenland, “that’s why we have a home here,” he tells The Daily Beast’s Obsessed. She lifted her computer, pointed her camera at the window, and stunned me, revealing the deep blue waters and the lush green hills rising in the distance. “Well, damn it,” I say. “If it’s any consolation, it’s really cold,” she replies.
Unfortunately, the purpose of our conversation is not to tour the house in an enviable Greenland cottage but to discuss Coster-Waldau’s role in the Apple TV+ series. The Last Thing He Said To Me. Based on Laura Dave’s 2021 best-selling mystery thriller, The Last Thing He Said To Me It follows a woman named Hannah (Jennifer Garner) who is turned upside down when her perfect-looking husband vanishes without trace and has to take care of her stepdaughter (Angourie Rice’s Bailey), and nearly a million questions.
(Warning: Spoilers ahead.)
The show’s season finale is now live, and it answers many of these questions. Throughout the season, we learn why Coster-Waldau’s character, Owen, has disappeared.
His real identity is “Ethan” and he was married to Bailey’s biological mother and Bailey’s name used to be “Kristin”. It turns out that Kristin’s grandfather, Nicolas, was involved in a crime syndicate and his mother – Ethan’s wife – was killed because he could not find a job for them. Ethan provided evidence to convict Nicolas. Kristin and she were placed in the Witness Protection program, but after this was put in jeopardy, she decided to hide them herself and start a new life: she as Owen, she as Bailey.
In the final, we see that the years have passed. While opening an exhibition at an art gallery, Hannah notices a mysterious man whose face is almost completely obscured by an overgrown beard. She looks at the wedding ring the man is wearing and instantly recognizes it. owen. “The guys that could be still love you,” she whispers, citing a conversation from their past. Hannah leaves in shock, and Bailey enters with a new boyfriend. She calls Hannah “Mom” – this is the first time we, the audience, have heard her say that. Looks like Hannah and Bailey are finally settled and happy.
Greenland’s Coster-Waldau explains her own reaction to the finale, whether Owen was right to disappear like this, and what that dramatic, brief reunion between Owen and Hannah could mean.
When you signed up for this show, did you already know the twists and turns it entails?
At first I didn’t know anything. I knew it was Josh Singer who wrote it, and that piqued my interest. So I read the scripts and then of course I found out that he was married to the writer Laura Dave. My path was through scripts, not books. I thought it was just a fascinating story. I love that this is a mystery thriller, but the engine at its core is this very sweet, very easy, simple, relatable story about a stepmother trying to connect with her stepdaughter. I thought this was very clever.
No matter how ugly the twists are, there is something in this relationship that many people can relate to.
It gives the story this beautiful emotional essence that you need, because all the other stuff is exciting and surprising. While reading the scripts, I was trying to guess who this guy was. What happened? Because the setup is great. You are 100 percent convinced that these two, Hannah and Owen, were made for each other. they love each other. He comes across as the perfect man. She is the perfect woman. They are such a lovely couple. And then find out that you’re hiding [secrets]I thought everything about him was something he recreated – that was fascinating.
While watching the season, I was relieved to learn who Ethan was before he became Owen and why he was under protection. He confirmed that he is a good man. But the fact that he had built his own life with Hannah still made me feel betrayed. What was your reaction when you found out who Ethan was?
I think this goes back to her defining words: “I would do anything for my daughter and to protect my daughter.” You learn that he’s involved in something he had no intention of getting caught up in. He fell in love with a girl when he was young, and he had a father whom he also fell in love with somehow. Sometimes this happens. He had a very different history. All of a sudden, in this world where all her dreams seem to come true. But then she found herself betrayed. She realized that it was being used in a way she couldn’t possibly see the results at first.
It’s really easy to sympathize with him.
Then of course, when his ex-wife, or his wife at the time, died, I could understand why he felt the need to do such a thing to protect his daughter. It was so that she wouldn’t live in that world, but also that she could live with herself. Returning to the present day story, part of me was like, “Maybe one day you could sit down and tell Hannah all this?” Is there anyone who thinks? Or at least when you write a note, maybe more than two words would help?” Sure, but then we wouldn’t have a show. [Laughs]
What we see about their relationship at the beginning of the series is that it’s easy to root for.
In most of the early scenes, I remember thinking he was almost there. more Beautiful. But of course it’s very good because the scenes we see are Hannah’s memories. They are memories of falling in love with someone. When you fall in love with someone, you don’t see their flaws. You don’t want to see them. You only see what you want to see. But he has flaws in his personality, that’s for sure. I hope that if I had found myself in a similar situation, I could have made a different choice.
Before it was revealed why Ethan was taken into custody, I spent half of the season hating this man, thinking he was a real idiot for abandoning his family. Do you like to play a character that the audience might not like?
Characters with secrets are always interesting. It has many secrets. I think most people [don’t have them] to that extent, but we are all flawed. The idea that we are all 100 percent transparent all the time [is delusional]. We choose to reveal only parts of our personality. We all do this. We don’t even think about it. I find this interesting. For all of us, there are gaps between what we say and what we do. I think that space is interesting to explore.
When Owen/Ethan returns in that grand finale scene, he has a pretty messy look. Have you had a beard like this before?
I have such a beard. Maybe not exactly the ZZ Top beard, but I have a full and big beard. There has been a lot of discussion about how. [he should look]. There would be a lot of tattoos at first, but I didn’t think it would work. He was supposed to live here and be kept out of sight. That’s the idea, so his past can come back and find him. I thought it would stand out if it was covered in tattoos. A beard changes your whole look.
This is true. I barely knew you.
We did some tests. There was a day when my beard was big and I was like, “I have to test this with Jennifer.” Because Jennifer was very attached to this whole story and the character of Hannah. It was very inspiring. So I got everything settled. We were in the studio park and we were like, “Where’s Jennifer?” I said. He was shooting another scene and I intervened.
He was sitting in between shots, just minding his own business. I sat next to him and he didn’t realize it was me. He thought it was just a man. I just said, “Maybe men still love you.” He looked around and didn’t recognize me at first. Then she gasped and got a real shock in a good way. It was a somewhat emotional moment.
Why was it emotional?
Throughout this show, Jennifer yearns for Hannah to find Owen to reconnect with. She is the love of his life. For me [Jennifer’s surprise] It was the reaction we wanted. I could hide out of sight. Now the question is: Is it selfish? [for Owen to return?] Why didn’t he just leave her alone? Why does it have to reappear?
Do you think it’s selfish?
I think this is selfish. There is no question about it. She misses him and wants to be seen and let him know that he appreciates what he is doing. Because he didn’t want to get started, she. He just threw it in. “Now you have to take care of my daughter because I can’t. It won’t be safe with me. Please do this.” And she did it as an incredible act of love.
After all this time, all he said to her was that big sentence, “The men who could be still love you.” Why do you think he chose to say that?
He goes back to a scene at the beginning of their courtship. She asks him about his past, the other man, an ex-partner. He calls them “could-be children”, loves that haven’t happened yet. And he became one of them. In a way, it’s like, “We can’t be together. We could have. I’ll always love you.” It’s a sweet throwback to the past and maybe a way of saying, “Maybe it’s time to let go.”
As the audience, I feel like you believe these two were made for each other and that the circumstances were right in front of us. But the love is still there. In the end, love is intact. I guess they’ll have to make a second season.
The way Jennifer Garner played that scene, there are so many ways to interpret her reaction. I’ve been back and forth as to whether this was the first time he’d seen her or if it had happened before. What did you think?
From what I’ve read, it’s her first time seeing him. That’s the shock. And I think the reason she’s doing it now is because right after this moment we saw her daughter Bailey walk in. You can see him fall on his feet. She’s doing really well, she. She calls Hannah “Mom”. You can feel that this is now a tight unit. It was always a moment of gratitude for me, wanting to make sure that he saw her and appreciated her sacrifice.
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