Arya Stark has gone through quite the transformation this season, as her journey across Westeros with The Hound has taught her some of life’s harder lessons. After crossing the first name off of her list, and learning where the heart is, her journey took a sharp turn in the season finale. Her travelling counterpart faced off with Brienne for the honor of keeping the young Stark safe, and for the first time, The Hound fell, very far. Now Arya has set out on her own, and is sailing for Braavos by way of one iron coin.
In a number of new interviews this week, Maisie Williams talks about the unexpected fight between Brienne and The Hound, Arya’s decision to walk away, and the power that Jaqen H’ghar’s coin and phrase hold.
Maisie spoke with Making Game of Thrones about what it meant to Arya to meet another female fighter, the moment Brienne lost Arya’s trust, and Arya’s nerves as she watched Brienne and The Hound face off.
What did it mean to Arya to meet someone like Brienne?
There’s actually a direction in the script in between their interaction about how they named their swords and learning how to fight. It says: “Arya smiles. She likes this weirdo. Brienne smiles. She likes this weirdo.” I remember reading it and thinking, “That is it. It’s perfect.” It’s the most happy Arya has been in forever. She realizes you can be female and fight, and be strong and be a leader. It gives her a whole new inspiration…and then it all turns sour.
Is there something Brienne could have said or done to make Arya trust her?
Not mention Jaime Lannister. In Brienne’s defense, she didn’t say anything wrong. It’s that thing where the audience knows so much more than the characters do, but mentioning Jaime Lannister is when it takes a spin on its head. Brienne was telling the truth but Arya’s guard goes straight back up and her hand is back on her sword. It’s a shame because I think they could have been great together.
What do you think Arya was feeling watching Brienne and the Hound fight?
In all of the previous fights, Arya has never been nervous about the outcome. The Hound took on four or five guys at the inn. She wants to have confidence in him, but she’s realizing it’s not as easy as it’s been before. It’s first time she’s seen him struggle so throughout the fight, she’s thinking about what she’s going to do next if it does go wrong.
Arya may have felt nervous while watching the fight, but Maisie admits to Access Hollywood that she didn’t have much to do on set during the battle, and that most of the time she and Daniel Portman were acting as assistants to their fighting counterparts.
“I don’t know how tall they are… I mean, I’m quite abnormally small anyway, so my whole life I’ve kind of been looking up to people, literally, and to see these two characters just literally fight with all they’ve got — and they were tired. It wasn’t as glamorous as you might think it would have been. They were really rolling around in the dirt and they had… all this [fake] blood all over them and, oh my God, it was really, really intense. They had stunt doubles on set, but it was getting to the point where even the stunt guys were like, tired and they had to swap back in the actors in this hot sun on the top of this big kind of mountain thing. … You get tired and your body slows down after a while and your reactions slow down and there [were] a lot of cuts and bruises by the end of it. It was so, so intense.”
“For a lot of the scene, it’s on them. It’s those two fighting, so I got to hang out a lot with Dan and it kind of felt like — you know when boxers go out into the ring and then when they come back to the side and people like pat them down with towels and give them water and things like that? It kind of felt like that was what me and Dan were doing for Rory and Gwen. So like, when they came off from shooting, we’d like give them their energy bars and water and things like that, and like, ‘Hey, do you want some space? Here, have my seat. There’s a bit of shade here. It was intense and they have this massive armor on and Rory’s got his wig on and his big prosthetic face and these massive, full, like, heavy, heavy swords and it was great.”
Maisie spoke with the Wall Street Journal about the power of the coin Jaqen H’ghar gifted Arya, if she believes Arya still wants to reunite with her family, and what it was like to film her final scene with The Hound.
Does she realize how powerful the coin is that had been given to her by Jaqen H’ghar?
I think she’s overwhelmed by the power she has over the captain when she unveils this coin. Automatically, she knows that’s who she can be for the rest of her life. When she gets on the ship, the final moment for her, she looks over her past life, this world she’s been in and spat out the other side, and she turns around and forgets all of that. She walks to the front of the ship, and that symbolizes the fresh start. She can be anyone she wants to be. Oh, that sounds so cheesy! But she can go to a place where no one knows who she is and no one wants to kill her. And that’s such a relief for one of the most unlucky characters on the show.
Do you feel like she still wants to reunite with her family?
I don’t really think that she is desperate for that anymore. She’s more determined to stay alive, and she’s almost angry that it seems like no one else in her family is trying. If you give someone enough time to think about things, they go through every outcome, and I guess that’s what she’s been doing. Because of all the betrayal and deceit she’s been through so far, it has completely changed her attitude about trying to get the family back together.
Describe what it was like to shoot the scene in the finale where Arya walks away from the wounded Hound.
It was one of my most enjoyable scenes, which sounds awful, because it’s such a deep, twisted scene. But I’m really happy with the outcome. It felt like we were all on the same page. I read the scene for so long, but then to hear Rory [McCann]—the Hound—screaming to come back and kill him, it really got to me. It’s just acting, but there’s so much of you in the character, so it’s awful to walk away from a full-grown man screaming to come back. He had all this makeup on, and broken bones and big bites on his neck. For a second, you have to remind yourself that it’s fake, because it gets intense. You have to take a breath and remember you’re not that cold-hearted bitch anymore.
In an interview with Vulture Maisie talks about getting the last scene of the season, and just why Arya walked away from The Hound instead of giving him what he wanted.
You have the very last scene of the finale, Arya setting out on the next stage of her journey. That’s a pretty big deal!
[Laughs] I was super excited when I found that out. I kind of thought it might happen, because my mom read the script before I did — she’s a quicker reader than I am. So when I got to the end and realized it was Arya sailing across the Narrow Sea, I was very, very happy about that. Particularly in this last season, we’ve seen a massive change in Arya. The old Arya that we used to know was slowly being chipped away, so I feel like this is a breath of fresh air. She’s not trying to control her future anymore. She’s just letting go of everything that she used to know, and she’s starting fresh.
Throughout this whole season, Arya’s had this very complicated relationship with the Hound. They’ve been friendly at points, but he’s still on her list of people to kill, for what he did to Micah, the butcher’s boy. Is that why she walks away?
Yeah. It’s that saying — keep your friends close, keep your enemies closer. And I think that’s so true with Arya and the Hound, where they have an uneasy truce and they do kind of help each other, but they know at any given moment, they could turn on each other. They’re both kind of dangerous people, and they both have strengths and weaknesses that the other doesn’t, and it makes it interesting, because they could try to kill each other. Although now, can she really bring herself to kill him? And finish it? I think in her head, it’s not a spiteful thing. It’s not like, “I’m going to leave you here to die.” I think there’s so much more going on in her head at that point than, “Okay, I’m going to kill you,” or “I’m not going to kill you.” It’s almost what he wants, so she’s not going to give it to him.
And Maisie tells Zap2It that because of Arya’s decision to walk away, she hopes the audience starts to question her actions.
“That’s her nod to the Hound saying, ‘This is who I am now.’ Episode 1 is the audience realizing, and then episode 10 is to the Hound. All the lessons that he taught her, ‘That’s where the heart is,’ and she’s taking all of that in. … He is ready for her to kill him, and she just looks at him and walks away. And it’s like, ‘Yeah, you’re right, I do know how to kill you. You taught me that. Thank you. But you’re an a**hole, so thank you and goodbye.’ It’s sad. It’s kind of like, was that necessary, Arya? I hope the audience feel like, was that even necessary? That’s what I wanted it to be like.”
Be sure to click through to all of the interviews, as Maisie has a lot of great things to say about Arya’s journey throughout the season.
Game of Thrones: Should Jaime have freed Tyrion? by winteriscoming
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