When I met Rose in the spring of 2013, at the Beverly Hills Four Seasons, she was making the interview rounds with many of her fellow GoT actors. Fresh off her first season as Ygritte, I thought she seemed open and friendly, if perhaps a bit intense.
This was mostly because, when myself or other interviewers spoke to her, we had her immediate and rapt attention. She looked at us as though no one else or no other question was more important in that very moment. Her hands would fiddle with things–a water bottle or something close at hand, usually–but her gorgeous eyes (a deep sea blue-green) seemed to be extra intent, as though not just deciphering whatever question you had just asked, but perhaps even the hidden intent of it, if hidden intent there might be.
I first brushed it off as a newcomer sort of thing–a young actress fresh to the limelight (though she did win a Scottish BAFTA for her role in New Town in 2009) not wanting to miss a single question. But it was soon evident that Rose was not merely exhibiting a traditional extension of English etiquette–ensuring the curious intruders felt at home–she was truly invested in the conversation, keenly interested in any discussion or question having to do with Ygritte. She loved Ygritte as much as (if not more than) any person I have ever talked to–and I know a hell of a lot of Ygritte fans.
She owned the role, playing Ygritte with a cheeky sort of rough-and-tumble rarely seen in any character on television or film. And you can put part of Ygritte’s appeal in George’s lap, or in David and Dan’s, but the most credit goes to Rose. And she deserves every accolade, not only for the ferocity of her performance, but for the raw, choked honesty she was able to portray. The fans of this great series are spoiled, perhaps; the acting is largely an embarrassment of riches we gladly hoard. She was quite the find.
Rose is a performer I’m going to seek out in years to come. She proved her range within a one-year span, going from the buttoned-up and meek Gwen on Downton Abbey, to Ygritte who is anything but. It’s fair to say she won’t be pigeonholed or typecast any time soon; I imagine she is going to have a long and successful career if she chooses to, and won’t be too shocked to see the honorary Dame one day affixed before her name.
And what a dame! I can already imagine her gathering the Leslie Clan granddaughters and great-nieces about her chair as one of them asks, pointing to the white-leather bound bow hanging over her mantle (a wonderful parting gift from production), “Gram, what’s that doing up there?” And I can see Ygritte’s familiar playful twinkle in those eyes as she says with a hushed voice, “Well, a story comes with that, and if you’re good, you’ll hear it all.”
(One hopes it is a more delicate version than the one George is telling even now.)
She is a proud fan of the books; I’m not sure if she’s decided to pick up A Dance With Dragons just yet, as she has stated she wants to wait for the release of The Winds of Winter so that she knows she has something to continue. Alas, Rose is as mortal as any of us, forced to wait for word on the Winds.
Rose, like Ygritte, apparently likes to remain busy. She appeared in the UK television series Utopia this very year, and is set to star in the horror thriller Honeymoon alongside Harry Treadaway (wielding an American accent like a pro) and is shooting the comedy Sticky Notes even as I type.
But of course to us she will always be the redheaded wildling of our dreams. Ygritte, the only true love Jon Snow will ever know; now immortal.
Rose, it was a pleasure to have known ye.
Take a bow and know the love and respect we will always have for you.