When you think about it, the entire epic tale of HBO’s Game of Thrones is sparked by Cersei and Jaime’s original sin. The Queen slept with her brother, secretly spawned his children, then when they were caught together by young Bran Stark in the Thrones pilot, Jaime’s attempt to kill Bran set off a chain of events that have driven nearly all the storylines in the show. Going into season four, Cersei (Lena Headey) and Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) have reunited, but they’re not feeling so good this time after all the hell their forbidden romance has stirred up since they last saw each other.

“She’s trying to reestablish her relationship with Jaime, but it’s changed beyond repair,” Headey tells EW. “Like I always say, she envies her brother. She believes he can protect her and do what she’s not allowed to as a woman. So, I think when he returns with [his sword hand having been cut off], she’s like: That’s the thing I didn’t have and now you now don’t have it so what do I want you for?

In other words: Jaime’s been emasculated. “In her eyes, yeah,” Headey agrees. “And she’s trying to figure that out. I think it comes from needing him all along and she’s also spent the last, you know, season without him and managed.”

What’s also unusual about their romance is that — as twisted as their incestuous relationship is — it’s one of the few in the pragmatic Westeros world that’s genuine, at least on Jaime’s part. That is, they don’t have a union that’s been arranged for obvious mutual benefit. In that sense, they’re the most “romantic” couple on the show because they risked everything for love … at least, until now.

“I think he’s in love with her, but I think Cersei is ever movable— she’s driven by what she needs,” Headey says. “She’s not driven by what helps someone else feel good, and I think Jaime is more of a chess figure for her than somebody she would do anything for — but that’s my mere opinion.”

The Queen Regent’s saving grace continues to be her love for her children, her one attribute that’s undeniably pure. “I loved last year when she says that if it weren’t for my kids I would have jumped by now,” she says. “That also tells me that Jaime isn’t the love of her life and her children are. And she also feels terribly f–king guilty that they’re from that union, and she even talks to Tyrion about that—like, ‘I f–ked my brother, now I have kids, and it’s all gone tits up.’ I never truly believe her when I’m playing her, so yeah. They’re her sanity.”

Just four more days until Thrones returns! And we’re saving a couple of the best interviews for Thursday and Friday, plus we’ll have exclusive stories over the weekend too.

EW’s Game of Thrones Season 4 Coverage: Catch up on what you’ve missed:
‘Game of Thrones’: Sophie Turner takes six Sansa questions
‘Game of Thrones’: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau on Jaime’s season 4 women trouble
‘Game of Thrones’ season 4 is Jon Snow’s biggest, talkiest yet
‘Game of Thrones’ Maisie Williams teases Arya’s dark season 4
‘Game of Thrones’: Ygritte is super pissed in season 4
Peter Dinklage talks ‘Game of Thrones’ season 4: Tyrion’s journey, ignoring Twitter, nude scenes
‘Game of Thrones’ two more ‘final’ trailers
‘Game of Thrones’ showrunners sign on for two more seasons — EXCLUSIVE
‘Game of Thrones’: How Pedro Pascal landed season 4′s coolest, sexiest new role
‘Game of Thrones’: See Jaime Lannister’s new golden hand — EXCLUSIVE
Game of Thrones’ producers: George R.R. Martin’s secret ending is ‘absolutely’ satisfying — EXCLUSIVE
‘Game of Thrones’ team: 7 seasons is the plan

Still to come: An exclusive interview every weekday on EW.com until the Season 4 premiere on April 6. Once the season starts we’ll have our popular recaps (catch up on them here) and post-episode interviews with cast or producers each week. For ongoing Game of Thrones intel, follow James on Twitter:

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