HBO's Game of Thrones is no stranger to controversy, with the Season 1 beheading of Ned Stark (Sean Bean) and Season 3's "Red Wedding" eliciting a number of responses from the show's growing fan base. However, throughout its run, fans haven't reacted quite so negatively as they did to "Breaker of Chains", which featured an explicit scene where Jamie Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) rapes his own sister Cersei (Lena Headey), right next to her dead son Joffrey (Jack Gleeson). In George R.R. Martin novel A Storm of Swords, the scene was much more consensual, and this alteration hints that Jamie's path to redemption may be much different in the HBO series than in the novels, and may be an indication that the show is planning on deviating further from the books.
After receiving a fan question on his LiveJournal website, George R.R. Martin decided to respond to the scene in question, how it was changed from the book, and how the scene was always intended to be disturbing for both viewers and readers.
"In the novels, Jaime is not present at Joffrey's death, and indeed, Cersei has been fearful that he is dead himself, that she has lost both the son and the father/ lover/ brother. And then suddenly Jaime is there before her. Maimed and changed, but Jaime nonetheless. Though the time and place is wildly inappropriate and Cersei is fearful of discovery, she is as hungry for him as he is for her.
The whole dynamic is different in the show, where Jaime has been back for weeks at the least, maybe longer, and he and Cersei have been in each other's company on numerous occasions, often quarreling. The setting is the same, but neither character is in the same place as in the books, which may be why (series creators) Dan (Weiss) & David (Benioff) played the sept out differently. But that's just my surmise; we never discussed this scene, to the best of my recollection.
Also, I was writing the scene from Jaime's POV, so the reader is inside his head, hearing his thoughts. On the TV show, the camera is necessarily external. You don't know what anyone is thinking or feeling, just what they are saying and doing.
If the show had retained some of Cersei's dialogue from the books, it might have left a somewhat different impression -- but that dialogue was very much shaped by the circumstances of the books, delivered by a woman who is seeing her lover again for the first time after a long while apart during which she feared he was dead. I am not sure it would have worked with the new timeline.
That's really all I can say on this issue. The scene was always intended to be disturbing... but I do regret if it has disturbed people for the wrong reasons."
"Well, it becomes consensual by the end, because anything for them ultimately results in a turn-on, especially a power struggle. Nobody really wanted to talk about what was going on between the two characters, so we had a rehearsal that was a blocking rehearsal. And it was very much about the earlier part with Charles (Dance) and the gentle verbal kidnapping of Cersei's last living son. Nikolaj came in and we just went through one physical progression and digression of what they went through, but also how to do it with only one hand, because it was Nikolaj. By the time you do that and you walk through it, the actors feel comfortable going home to think about it. The only other thing I did was that ordinarily, you rehearse the night before, and I wanted to rehearse that scene four days before, so that we could think about everything. And it worked out really well. That's one of my favorite scenes I've ever done."
The site also mentioned that several fans on Twitter and elsewhere on the Internet have disagreed with Alex Graves' assertion that the rape becomes consensual. Oddly enough, in a separate interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the director does refer to the scene as "forced sex."
"I'm never that excited about going to film forced sex. But the whole thing for me was about dead Joffrey lying there, watching the whole thing. (Showrunners) David (Benioff) and Dan (Weiss)) loved that, and I was like, I wanted to make sure I had Jack (Gleeson) in there as much as I could. Of course Lena and Nikolaj laughed every time I would say, 'You grab her by the hair, and Jack is right there,' or 'You come around this way and Jack is right there.'"
When asked why it was so important to have Joffrey's dead body in that scene, the director had this to say.
"He is their first born. He is their sin. He is their lust, and their love -- their everything. If he's gone, what's going to happen? Jaime is still trying to believe as hard as he possibly can that he's in love with Cersei. He can't admit that he is traumatized by his family and he's been forced his whole life to be something he doesn't want to be. What he is -- but has to deny -- is he is actually the good knight, like Brienne."
What are your thoughts about the rape scene? Did it change your opinion about Game of Thrones as a whole? Chime in with your thoughts below. Season 4 continues Sunday, April 27 at 9 PM ET with "Oathkeeper".