Landing the role of iconic tough girl Arya Stark has put teenage actress Maisie Williams at the top of many contemporary gay icons lists, and her character has only just begun taking charge. Thanks to our friend’s at Sky TV. express brings you this exclusive chat with Williams.
Q: Including the pilot you’ve been working on this show for five years now. How do you look back on it?
MW: I’m just so grateful that I got the opportunity to work with these people because I came in to this not having a clue what I was doing. It’s been so nice to have such fantastic influences on set there with me and to be sat opposite these fantastic actors and just to feed off of them.
Q: Is it a question of watching them or asking them for advice?
MW: Watching them definitely, like when I met Charles Dance he came up to me and was like ‘Hello, my name is Charlie’ and I just sat there. When he’s on set everyone is just silent for him, but he deserves everything – he’s just the most fascinating person to watch and I’m just so privileged to have worked so closely with him. The way that he incorporates props into the scene or how he moves around the space; I learnt so much. And how natural he was in saying this dialogue that is not natural for someone of my age, you know, it’s not a natural way of saying things – it was really helpful just listening to him.
Q: Who are your friends on set?
MW: I have bonded so well with Sophie [Turner, Sansa] and Isaac [Hempstead Wright, Bran], they’ve just been the most fun. It’s been so good to have someone that I can just go home and say to them, ‘I really struggled today,’ or ‘Today was really, really great,’ and find out that actually they’ve got the same worries as I do.
Q: Do you get to see much of Sophie, what with your divergent plotlines?
MW: This year Sophie had a lot of interior stuff so she was in Belfast a lot so I got to see her an awful lot and we spent so much time together – we had sleepovers. I really felt grown up because we’d go out for dinner together and not have parents to say, ‘It’s 8 o’clock now, it’s getting late.’ So this year was a real step for both of us and we’ve both felt like grown ups. I think our fans find it really strange that we get on so well because our characters hate each other!
Q: How do you cope with the fans?
MW: It gets intense – Sophie and I have both had strange things on social media. Nine times out of 10 people are absolutely lovely, but you get the odd person where you’re not quite sure what they mean. But then also there’s this language barrier where someone will type something into Google translate and it translates very, very strangely. The good thing is that people like Arya, and I know that people purely like her for the character, for her heart.
Q: Was there a particular standout moment for you filming Season 4?
MW: Episode 10 was like just, amazing. I was speaking to David [Benioff] and he said Episode 10 was possibly the best episode that we’ve ever made on the show. It’s such a heart-ripping episode but it’s such a powerful one for Arya, so powerful. I’m glad that I really got that chance to tell a part of her story because it’s so jam-packed and she does so many different things that it’s hard to really sit down and show the transition between the child and the adult that’s coming through. So I was glad that that was given the attention that it was.
Q: What is it like when actors you’ve worked with for so long have their characters killed off?
MW: We went to the SAG Awards and Richard [Madden] and Michelle [Fairley] weren’t there. It was horrible. I remember speaking to Richard in the pilot episode because he lifts Arya up out of her seat and marches her out of the room. It was the first time I’d met the guy and we were chatting then and I was saying, ‘Well if this goes really far I think they’re going to recast me because I’m going to be too old by then and Arya is only 12 and the books only take place over 3 years or something’. I remember just chatting to him then about that and he was saying, ‘No, no, this is going to go on for a long time’ and here we are four years later and he’s gone. It’s very sad.
Q: She killed for the first time at the end of last season. How has that altered her morality?
MW: This is the thing about Game of Thrones – you can never say if a character is good or bad. I feel like Arya is fighting for the good but the Frey guards [one of whom she killed] killed her brother and mother at the Red Wedding because he did not marry a Frey girl, so Rob Stark has done wrong for that to happen and they’ve been told from someone higher that that’s their job to do. So killing that Frey soldier was not necessarily the right thing to do, but she’s doing it for the good of Arya. I do feel like Arya is slowly slipping into this almost more selfish side of killing people – that actually it’s more for personal pleasure at times than for what is the right thing to do. A lot of the time she’s putting herself in danger just to go out of her way to actively murder someone, which is not what the Starks are about. I feel like she’s being heavily influenced by the Hound and his intense brutality. He just tends to get the job done rather than worry about emotions and what is the right and the wrong thing. He’s probably not the best influence when you’re 12 years old.
Q: Does Arya have a long-term goal or is she living by her wits?
MW: For the first three seasons she had definite direction and that was to get home. But she feels like she’s always one step behind the game because whatever she tries to do is torn straight away from her. So I feel like she’s giving up on trying to control anything and instead is just hoping that one day she’ll turn a corner and she’ll fall into the right place.
Q: What’s her relationship like with the Hound now?
MW: I do feel like she does manipulate the Hound at times. If she hears that someone is offering them this, or someone is offering them that, or there is something going on over here then she’ll slip in little remarks and little comments that will twig something in the Hound’s mind. She does know how to make him tick – being that close to him for so long I think she has realised a lot of stuff about him and in particular how she can manipulate him into doing what she wants to do. But she’s by no means ready to leave him at the moment because though she doesn’t want to admit it, she’s very safe with him – he can do everything that she can’t.
Game Of Thrones Season 4 is screened on Monday nights on Sky’s SoHo channel at 8.30pm, and is repeated on Sundays at 9.30pm.