Nikolaj Coster-Waldau was born 27 July 1970 and is a Danish actor.
He graduated from the Danish National School of Performing Arts in Copenhagen in 1993. Coster-Waldau’s breakthrough performance in Denmark was his role in the film Nightwatch (1994). Since then he has appeared in numerous films in his native Scandinavia and Europe in general, 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. He then played Detective John Amsterdam in the short-lived Fox television series New Amsterdam (2008), as well as appearing as Frank Pike in the 2009 Fox television film Virtuality, originally intended as a pilot.
He became widely known for his role as Jaime Lannister in the HBO fantasy series Game of Thrones. He is a United Nations Development Program Goodwill Ambassador, drawing attention to critical issues such as gender equality and climate change.
He was born in Rudkøbing, Denmark, the son of Hanne Søborg Coster, a librarian, 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. He has two older sisters, and was raised mainly by his mother. He grew up in Tybjerg, a small village between Ringsted and Næstved in southern Zealand.
Coster-Waldau was the youngest actor to enter the Danish National School of Theatre and Contemporary Dance, where he was educated from 1989 to 1993.
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.
He married Nukâka, a Greenlandic actress and singer, in 1997, and they live in Los Angeles with their two daughters as well as two dogs.
His father-in-law is Josef Motzfeldt, a member of the Parliament of Greenland and former leader of the Community of the People party.
He is a supporter of English football club Leeds United and he is a member of the Leeds United Supporters’ Trust.
Coster-Waldau has supported the Danish Red Cross since 2003. 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.
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. 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. 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. 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, after kicking off the women’s amateur World Cup. In October 2017, he travelled to the Maldives to report global warming effects, resuming his role as a United Nations Development Program Goodwill Ambassador.
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. 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. 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.