The second of our four interviews needs no introduction. (It’s in the title above, people! Read!) It was held on Tuesday the 19th of March, 2013, and… well… like all the others that came that day, it was awesome.
Michelle Fairley, Maisie Williams, and Isaac Hempstead-Wright were ushered into our miniature conference room at the Beverly Hills Four Seasons, quickly on the heels of our interview with Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Gwendoline Christie.
Michelle seems daintier than the proud woman she plays on Game of Thrones, and younger too. She still has fantastic posture, but in a smaller package. And you’re reminded that Lady Catelyn can still be elegant in a simple blouse. Oh, she also rocks a ponytail like a boss.
Naturally her accent is a softer Irish brogue than the somewhat harsher one she deploys for Lady Stark, but her words are usually measured and sure. Her blue eyes dance when she is engaged in banter, and when she laughs she really laughs, robustly and without regret.
Maisie and Isaac are growing up before our eyes, and it’s striking when you mentally compare the oldest photos and footage with the teens sitting across the table from you. Gone is Maisie the young girl; in her place sits a talented young lady of keen intelligence. Her large, expressive eyes can go from playful to earnest seriousness in a blink, and she has a distinct, concentrated look when listening to questions. She’s not afraid to look anyone in the eye. And she is cute—the show does it’s best to “grubby her up,” so you really don’t get to see Arya progressing into the stunner Maisie is seemingly rocketing toward.
And Isaac? Well he’s not doing half badly either. Isaac has probably undergone the most dramatic physical change from the Bran we remember in season 1. He’s shot up in height, his voice has changed… and yet there is still so much that has not changed. His greeting to me was the most friendly—once he heard I was with Winter-Is-Coming, he gasped in surprise, pointed, and grinned that huge grin of his. (His mum is cool too. Benioff and Weiss are on the mark whenever they praise the parents of these kids. It’s really no wonder they’re all turning out so well-balanced.) He’s energetic, open, with a lightning-quick smile.
And those puppy-dog brown eyes that everyone said was “adorable” when he was just a kid? That’s not going to change. Punk’s gonna land more than his share of dates, if and when he wants them.
WARNING: There may be a moderate to fair amount of Fairley adoration below. You have been warned. Isaac: “That better not be a Lannister shirt, bro.”
I regret nothing.
On to the interview!
FaB: Maisie! Your hair has grown completely back!
Maisie: No, no, it’s extensions for another job I did.
FaB: Oh, really? I can’t even tell!
Maisie: Yeah. Not real!
FaB: That means they did a good job. I haven’t seen you since TitanCon.
Maisie: Yeah, that was a long time ago.
FaB: But I haven’t met [Isaac and Michelle] at all. Issac didn’t go…
Isaac: I was at the last one!
Michelle: What is TitanCon? Is that Belfast?
Michelle seems intrigued. As she should be! We need to petition this brilliant woman to attend later this year!
As ever, it’s Paulette from XFinity TV who gets us on track—and right to her burning need for a salient point, asking, “So what can you tease for this season?”
(Because I’m sure they’ve never gotten this question before!)
Maisie: Oh, well. We kind of pick Arya up where we left her last season. She’s just had her encounter with Jaqen H’ghar, she has the coin, and all that. I think she’s got a quiet confidence that she’s gonna get home. At least to the boys she’s completely confident, though on the inside I think she’s doubting it a little bit. But… yeah, there’s a limited amount I can say. But I think she’s got good feelings about what’s to come.
Michelle: Catelyn’s storyline picks up exactly where it was left at the end of season 2; she’s still estranged from her son, because she’s released Jaime Lannister in the hope that she’s going to get her daughters back. And there’s the realization—the dawning—that she’s been duped. And not only has she been duped, but she’s seriously damaged her relationship with [Robb]. And he is the only family, or child, that she has any contact with. So basically it’s a progression of her becoming more introverted. And she basically spends some time on her own, and becomes reflective that, utterly, she is the reason that this tragedy is happening to her family.
Isaac: In season 3 Bran’s group is sort of joined by two new characters. It adds a new dynamic to it that wasn’t really there before. Bran’s storyline rather picks up a bit more in season 3, since in the past 2 seasons he really hasn’t had a goal, he’s just sort of been waiting in Winterfell. And now he’s really striving toward something, which makes it really interesting.
Terri from Zap2it asks what it’s like working with actors new to the show.
Maisie: Yeah, it was great to meet new people. I met some really great friends, and I think we’re all gonna meet up… soon. Which is really nice.
FaB: Is Paul [Kaye, who plays Thoros of Myr] as strange as he seems? Everything I’ve seen him in, he’s always played these really interesting, quirky people.
Maisie: No, he’s a lovely guy!
Terri mentions she loves his hair.
Maisie: We were always talking about books and things. I always say I don’t read as much as I’d like to, and that’s because I struggle to find books that I enjoy. Or books like George’s books, that are THIS BIG, and I’m like, “How am I gonna get through that?” So he said I should read a book called Perfume, and—[she’s interrupted and asked if she liked it] Yeah, I did. He told me, “Don’t watch the film, read the book first and then watch the film,” and I did. I haven’t seen him since, but it would be really lovely to chat with him again and tell him. So yeah, I made some really good friends.
FaB: That’s great!
Maisie: Yeah, it makes it more interesting, finding new interests when meeting new people.
Issac: The two new actors we’ve got, Thomas [Brodie Sangster who plays Jojen] and Ellie [Kendrick, who plays Meera] are really fantastic people. I get on really well with them. Because Bran’s sort of had… well, he’s obviously stuck in one place. It’s been a lot of the same faces, and it’s nice to see some sort of new, fresh faces. I love it when they add something new. No, that’s not a beer!
FaB: Are you thing ringleader now, or is Kristian [Nairn] still being bossy?
Isaac: [laughs] I think Bran, in this season, starts to really control his own group. Because in season 2 we saw him take responsibility over Winterfell, and now he’s taking responsibility over his own group. He’s guiding his own group.
FaB: On that note, I have just a question for you from the fans at Winter-is-Coming. GG asked: If Ser Roderick had successfully retaken Winterfell as opposed to failing to take it, what do you think Bran would have done with Theon?
Maisie: Oh, man.
Isaac: Ohhhh. Hm!
FaB: It’s on his shoulders now.
Isaac: That’s a very good question. I think Bran, at heart… [then his eyes kind of narrow] No. I think Bran would want to punish Theon. I don’t think you can be nice to someone who wanted to kill everything you’ve known and has completely betrayed everything he’s been taught. I think Bran would hand Theon off to Robb. Because Robb would teach him a lesson.
Maisie laughs, somewhat evilly, perhaps wanting to see Robb deal some justice to Theon.
FaB: And to Michelle, really quick… [FaB was getting the stink-eye from one of the reporters for hogging up all the time, but FaB didn’t care—FaB had to let his Fairley love be known!]… I adore your work. I really do. Back when they announced your casting—
Michelle: You went, “Who?” [laughing]
FaB: I did! I did.
Michelle: I believe that!
FaB: I was told, “You need to watch Best: Her Mother’s Son.” I watched it, and I was gobsmacked. It was so good. Your performance was wonderful. And by the way, you probably have the best… what is the word I’m looking for? [gesturing like an idiot] Carriage?
FaB: Posture! The best posture on television! Who do we thank for that?
Michelle: Oh my goodness. Thank Michele Clapton. The costume designer. [That gets it’s share of laughs]
FaB: So we have her to thank for keeping you straight?
Michelle: Really, the costumes, they sort of mold into your skin. The minute you put them on, you feel regal. You feel ladylike, even though they’re covered in muck and dirt.
Maisie: [agreeing with the “muck and dirt” part] Uh huh!
Michelle: But they don’t have corsets. That’s one thing. It looks like we have corsets on, but we don’t. It’s the cut, it’s the way Michele designs these, and the people that work on them in Belfast. The people she has there, their work is incredible. And it’s the curving, the way she panels the coats, and the dresses as well, it makes you look more serene and regal than you actually are.
FaB: It is wonderful. These two [indicating Maisie and Isaac] are kind of being spoiled a little bit, by starting off working on such a fantastic show.
There is much agreeing and laughter!
Michelle: It’s all hell from here, guys!
FaB: On their future shows in television they’ll call for wardrobe and be like, “Wait, this is a tee-shirt!”
Michelle: [a knowing laugh] I know! Absolutely. [she has this lovely wry little grin, and her r’s really begin to roll] And I’ve worked for years just to get here! And they just waltz in!
The twinkle in her eye is pure joy. This is a talented woman who’s worked hard to get where she’s at, and she’s not shy about enjoying the view—and has no qualms about having a go at her “children.” The laughter is truly infectious.
FaB: How is that? Watching them grow up? I mean we feel like… well, alright, we don’t feel like they’re our kids. But we’ve seen them in those first publicity shots with George. There at that… what was it, a bookstore, right?
Maisie: At Eason’s, yeah.
FaB: And they’re all looking like… this big… just tiny.
Michelle: It’s extraordinary, actually.
FaB: And you re-watch season 1, and you’re like, “Wow, they all look so young!” And now here we have Maisie, looking absolutely beautiful. Growing up into a woman.
Maisie: Thank you!
FaB: And Isaac, geez. I mean I’ve read comments where people are like, “Wow, he’s getting hot,” and I’m like “HE’S STILL A KID!”
By now FaB is probably all bug-eyed, the instincts of a father-of-a-newly-minted-18-year-old-girl taking over, and they’re just laughing.
Isaac: Thank you! Yes! Thank you very much!
FaB: Where’d you get that?
Isaac: It was Diesel. My mum actually got it for me.
The other reporters are laughing, enjoying this bit of banter. Well, most of them. One does keep giving me the side-eye. So FaB apologizes for monopolizing all the time. In a roundabout way. And Michelle leans in and says, “It’s totally understandable.”
(See? She agrees that the show is awesome too!)
(And if she weren’t in it, she’d be as big a fan as we are!)
(Okay, I just made that last part up.)
Paulette brings up the binge-watching television shows question again, directing it at Maisie. She is bound and determined to find out what they eat when they watch television! Which, really… hey, why not? If I can pester people about indigo, she can fetish food…
Maisie: I watch Glee obsessively. It’s kind of like my guilty pleasure. And I always record them. I went away for a 6-week shoot, and came back and watched them all. So I guess my advice is… well, you can’t keep going to the kitchen. Stock up on loads of food. Makes sure there’s a lot at the table. Other than that… I don’t know what to say! Just… food!
Michelle: Close the curtains.
Maisie: Yes! Definitely close the curtains.
Terri says, “This is going to be one of the most magical seasons of Game of Thrones. If the first season is politically oriented, the fantastical elements have been sort of integrated gradually. How do you think audiences will respond to some of the more fantastical elements? Do you think they’re ready for it?”
Maisie: Yeah! I think it’s kind of been drip-fed, and I think [magic] has gotten a really good response as well. So yeah. I think people are going to like it. They’re ready for it. They can handle it! I’m really excited to watch, because I’m not there for any of those sorts of elements. So I’m excited to see what it’s all going to look like. And the poster with the dragon [shadow] on it at the moment I’m like, “[Gasp!] God, can’t wait!” So I think they’re ready. [pause] I’m ready if they’re not.
FaB asks if they’ve seen the new Daenerys Time Warner Cable commercial with the “little lost Drogon.” And they have not yet! FaB highly recommends it. Because, you know, the dragon looks real. And it looks like a pet. And this year? KHALEESI, THOSE ARE NOT PETS!”
Terri asks Maisie how she got involved with Patrick Stewart for the Funny Or Die skit…
Maisie: They phoned up and asked if I’d like to do a Funny Or Die, which was amazing. And I was so excited. But we showed up and didn’t know who else was going to be in it. Because it was around the Olympics, which was great, and I really loved the story. It made me laugh, just reading the script. And then mum said, “It’s Patrick Stewart…” And I said, “Um, who’s that?”
Maisie: No, no, I know who he is now! I went on IMDB, looking for a face with the name, and then was like, [in recognition] “….Wow!” But he’s SUCH a nice guy, and he watched Game of Thrones, which is really cool. He enjoys it a lot, too! So yeah, we had a really good day. A sunny day in London! And it was a really great experience, and… really just nice to be asked. But it was kind of odd. And then I went back to filming Game of Thrones, because that was sort of in-between, and lots of the directors had already seen it, and the crew too, which was cool. And Joe [Dempsey] was like, “What are they talking about?” And I said, “I did Funny Or Die,” and he thought it was really cool. And all my friends are impressed. “Funny Or Die!” But yeah, I had a good time. And they said they’d have me back one day, which would be even more cool.
Terri slyly mentions she loves all of Maisie videos, including her cinnamon challenge.
Maisie: The cinnamon challenge. Oh, memories. And then it went viral. It was on a private Facebook account! I’m not sure how it got out! But… yeah, it was disgusting.
FaB: Michelle, one of our readers asked you a question: Isabelle asks: If Catelyn were to encounter Jon Snow, somehow, would anything be different between the two of them, do you feel? Could she bury the hatchet, or is there too much water under that bridge?
Michelle: That’s a very interesting question. Because part of that is mentioned in season 3. And I think she… The whole thing about Jon Snow with Catelyn is he is the physical embodiment of infidelity. That’s the way she sees it.
FaB: And something that Ned generally would not do.
Michelle: Yes. And unfortunately, she isn’t able to move on from that. And he is the manifestation of her dead husband’s sin. And her anger and hatred is misplaced, actually. And it’s channelled into Jon Snow. And I think… at this point, in season 3, given the opportunity she would try… she would do everything in her body to try and make amends with him. But I don’t know how successful she would be. It’s so ingrained. So ingrained. And she is human.
FaB: You and Sean had so little time together. So few scenes. And yet the chemistry was amazing. It was so fantastic when they had the parting scene at King’s Landing. And—actually, Maisie, it was during the commentaries, Maisie said—
Maisie: [a perfect replay] “Oh no, that’s the last time they’re going to see each other!”
FaB: All the kids were mourning that! And it’s because it comes across so strongly. Was it hard for you to develop that chemistry so quickly?
Michelle: Well thank you, but I think we all agree that Sean was just a lovely, generous, gentle man.
Maisie: You felt like you knew him.
Michelle: And he has this grace about him which is so gentle. And yet he’s also this solid rock, in the middle of chaos.
Isaac and Maisie both laugh at the chaos part… and quickly agree.
Michelle: But he’s a gentleman. He’s a professional. And he works hard, and you take your cues from him. He was the lead. He was the rock of the show, basically, and you take your lead from that. And he’s a great teacher in that respect.
Maisie and Isaac are both nodding enthusiastically. It’s a wonder to see the huge impact Sean had on them in just one season.
Paulette asks Michelle, “How much did the producers tell you of your character’s arc before starting?”
Michelle: Well when you go for a part, you do get a basic outline of your character. But we didn’t know how successful this show would be. Sometimes you get season 1—and done. That might be it! Do you know what I mean? So… to my shame, I didn’t know the books. And I think if you want to know, you can get on the internet and find out, or if you want to read [1 book] per season, you read per season.
Paulette says, “But season three… there’s so much mystery about how far they’re going to go….”
Michelle: [mock stern] And you’re just going to have to wait to find out.
The whole room is laughing. Paulette presses on: “I was just wondering if, when you picked up your first script [for season 1] if you knew where it was all going.”
Maisie: No, we did the pilot episode, and then it was green-lit for a full season, and then at the end it was green-lit for a second season, then a third… We’re still waiting to hear about 4th season…
Terri: 4th season’s not happening, Maisie, you’d better start looking for a job.
Michelle: Humility is a great thing.
Maisie: When it first kind of started, I didn’t realize it was going to be this long. They had spoken about it, but I didn’t want to get my hopes up, or anything like that, so… yeah, each year it’s getting more hopeful for a next year. But yeah, we’ll have to wait and see.
FaB: Does it take up a lot of your time? Is there any part of you that kind of regrets that it takes up so much of your time?
Isaac: Not at all. We love it.
Maisie: There may be some things you miss out on, like at home, but you never regret it. I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world.
Paulette asks, “When shooting is done, do you go back to regular school?”
Maisie gives what can only be described as a guilty wince!
Maisie: Well, I left school last year and was homeschooled for a bit, and now when I go home I do go to a different school now, but I started in November, but I think I’ve only attended like… five whole days. Because I’ve been off doing other things. But yeah, it is getting harder as we’re all getting busier, I think. But if I decide one day that I don’t want to do this any more, and I need to get some qualifications, then I’ll go back and do it. But at the moment I couldn’t just say, “No, I don’t want to do [Game of Thrones] any more.” I couldn’t do that! I enjoy it so much, I have such a great time, that it’s more important than school to me. And some people disagree with that and say that I should be at school and get a backup [plan], but…
Isaac: The show is a school itself.
Maisie: Yeah, and for now I’m having a great time.
Paulette mentions that in the U.S. we have on-set teachers…
Isaac: We do in England as well.
Maisie: Yeah, it’s just hard to keep up. You don’t do as much, and it’s tough!
Terri suggests that if anyone bugs her about it, Maisie should school them in the history of Westeros. Terri then asks Michelle if she has any scenes with Talisa this season…
Michelle: Yes, she’s in Robb’s camp. So we do. And it’s wonderful.
Maisie: She’s funny.
Michelle: She is. And that’s a relationship that develops in season 3 as well. Very much so.
FaB: You’ve worked with Tobias [Menzies, who plays her brother Edmure], right?
Michelle: [amused] Did I? Have I worked with Tobias?
FaB: That’s what someone told me! I mean before!
Michelle: [Now that she’s sure I’m not digging for season 3 scoops] I have, yes, of course.
FaB: And now he’s playing your brother. Isn’t it kind of nice to meet family now? Everyone’s family’s grow, and this year we get more Tullys!
Michelle: Yes, it’s wonderful. I saw Tobias a couple of weeks ago at the theatre in London, and I was like, “Tobiiiias!” [She makes a rather rough-and-tumble arm-around-the-neck-in-a-headlock gesture]
FaB: Right? “C’mere, little brother!”
Michelle: [loves the idea!] Opera!
Maisie: Oh no! I don’t know! How are we going to top this, Isaac?
Isaac: I don’t know!
FaB: Pick up instruments! Start a band!
Maisie: We’ll do something!
Isaac: It’ll be good!
Maisie: It’ll be great!
Isaac: Wait and see.
Terri has to get one last question in: “I heard this season really goes for the jugular. What do you guys say to that?”
Michelle: I think every season goes for the jugular. The guys, the writers, they’re committed to telling this story as truthfully and as based in reality as possible. So they don’t shirk any responsibility, I’ll say that.
Oh, that twinkle. Her Irish eyes were smilin’.
Thanks for the fantastic interview, guys! And thank you for supporting the bottom!
Next: Kit, John, and Rose!