Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Jennifer Garner in 'The Last Thing He Told Me'

Who Plays Owen on 'The Last Thing He Told Me'? Nikolaj Coster-Waldau Is Jennifer Garner's Onscreen Love

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau may be best known as the blond, villainous Kingslayer Jaime Lannister in the HBO hit series Games of Thrones. And while he may look natural wielding a sword and riding a horse into battle, Coster-Waldau is trying his hand at a new, modern-day suspense series. 

The Danish actor and producer has long starred in films and television series outside of the fantastical old world. However, his latest credit casts him as a dad named Owen who goes missing without a trace in Apple TV's The Last Thing He Told Me

The show follows Hannah (Jennifer Garner), who must build a relationship with her 16-year-old stepdaughter, Bailey (Angourie Rice), to discover the answers to why her husband disappeared. But as she comes to learn, Owen may have had a more complicated background than she realized.

Based on a best-selling psychological thriller novel of the same name by Laura Dave, Reese Witherspoon bought the rights to adapt the book through her production company, Hello Sunshine. It's set to premiere April 14, with the final episodes dropping on May 19.  

Though we don't know much else about the new series yet, we do know more about Coster-Waldau and what he's been up to since Game of Thrones ended. 

Not just the Kingslayer

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau poses backstage prior to the "Le Defile Walk Your Worth" By L'Oreal Paris Womenswear Spring/Summer 2023 show as part of Paris Fashion Week on October 02, 2022 in Paris, France

Francois Durand/Getty Images for L'Oréal Paris

Coster-Waldau says he always felt natural performing. 

Growing up in the rural Danish town of Tybjerg, he was raised with his two sisters by his librarian mother, who often struggled to make ends meet. The town only has around 40 residents, so he didn't have very many opportunities to embody different characters. So, like any kid, he made up his own. 

"As a child, I spent hours imagining being different versions of a 10-year-old boy," Coster-Waldau told Atlantan Magazine in 2019. "Usually, he would win some kind of world championship in some made-up sport."

And the passion was only fueled when a teacher praised him for improvising lines and reactions when a set fell during a school play. A few years later, at age 17, Coster-Waldau became the youngest student to ever be admitted to the Danish National School of Theatre and Contemporary Dance. 

After he graduated, one of his first roles was the lead role in Nightwatch, a 1994 Danish hit thriller about the graveyard shift in a morgue. That film launched his career and helped land him an agent to secure more-complex roles. Coster-Waldau then secured his first big film role in the 1997 World War II-era Bent, where he portrayed a gay Nazi officer. 

"The movie was beautiful and very intense," the Danish actor told DuJour. "That's how it all started." 

From Denmark to Hollywood

Coster-Waldau went on to snag role after role, in Denmark and later venturing out to Hollywood. His first American film was a small role in the 2001 war film Black Hawk Down, alongside industry heavyweights such as Ewan McGregor and Orlando Bloom.

Now, after several decades in the movie and television entertainment industry, Coster-Waldau has more than 40 film and stage roles on his resume?. His genre-bending career includes credits as the lead role in New Amsterdam, a short-lived Fox series about an immortal New York City cop, as well as the love interest in the romantic drama A Thousand Times Good Night (2013).

Despite being terrified of supernatural or horror movies, Coster-Waldau actually starred in one himself. Mama (2013) followed a couple who must fight off a spirit that latched onto their family. It grossed $140 million globally, but the Danish actor never watched it. 

However, Coster-Waldau says the most important work he does is at home. Despite being most known for playing a vicious and vengeful knight in Game of Thrones, the actor does it all for his wife and two daughters. 

He met his wife, Nukâka, while working on a radio play more than two decades ago. She was an actress and singer, though she's best known as the former Miss Greenland.

Coster-Waldau says it was love at first sight and told his friends she was "the one" before he'd even spoken a word to her. He proposed four months later.

Twenty-three years later, their two daughters, Filippa and Safina, are following in their parents' footsteps. Even at their young ages, both girls have appeared in Danish short films and a television series.  

Coster-Waldau is also a dedicated philanthropist. He's a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations Development Programme, a role in which he pushes for action to combat climate change and fights for gender equality. He's been credited as the program's highest fundraiser.

"I can be the person deflecting the spotlight onto the person next to me who is an expert dedicating his or her life to helping others," Coster-Waldau said to Atlantan Magazine. "It's crucial they have a platform and that their voices are heard. That's what I can do."

Hanging up the sword

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau in Game of Thrones (2011)


For nearly the last decade, Coster-Waldau embodied the brazen and charismatic Jaime Lannister in one of the biggest television hits in history. 

"I never thought I would be in a show with dragons," he told The New York Times in 2022. "Just goes to show you never know."

The award-winning actor finally had to hang up his sword and try to make a name for himself outside of the fantasy world. However, he says he wasn't worried about that. Since Game of Thrones' eight-season series ended with a bang in 2019, Coster-Waldau has embraced more-ambitious projects on a smaller scale. 

He wrote and starred in the biographical film Against the Ice (2022) as the Danish explorer Ejnar Mikkelsen, who was stranded in the Greenland wilderness for three years. And even the filming was difficult; at one point, the crew had to be rescued from a glacier during a storm. 

"It's so big, it puts your own existence into perspective in a healthy way," he told the New York Times. 

While the film may not have gained the millions of fans that his previous project did, Coster-Waldau says he enjoys the challenge of taking on new roles.  

"One of the great things about getting older is the parts get older," he told Atlantan Magazine. "There's something about having lived life that makes it a lot more interesting. I am attracted to characters that are complex and challenging."

And now, Coster-Waldau must take on the challenge of balancing a role where he's a loving father and husband who's also holding potentially dangerous secrets from his loved ones in The Last Thing He Told Me.  

"What I loved about the show when I read it is that yes, it's a mystery with constant twists and turns," he told DC Film Girl in a YouTube interview. "But at its core, it's about love."

Watch the first two episodes of the upcoming thriller on April 14.

READ MORE: 'The Last Thing He Told Me': Meet The Cast Of Apple TV's New Thriller Miniseries