Featured Game of Thrones Gwendoline Christie Interview Maisie Williams Sand Snakes

Gwendoline Christie and Maisie Williams talk character development

Although I haven’t done a case-by-case comparison study, I’d be shocked if, by the end of its run, Game of Thrones didn’t go down in history as one of the most woman-centric fantasy epics ever produced. When one compares it to something like, say, The Lord of the Rings, there’s just a wealth of well-developed female characters, from the Stark sisters to the Tyrell women to Daenerys to Brienne to Cersei. The producers have even upped the ante this year by adding the Sand Snakes, although it could be debated how much they actually add to the mix (spoiler: very little).

Some of the heavyweight actresses featured on the show have been hitting the press junket of late, and have dropped some interesting nuggets about their characters. For example, Maisie Williams sat down with Entertainment Weekly and talked about Arya’s journey this year, and revealed that it can only be understood after viewing the entire season.

I think it’s the first time that Arya’s story is really only complete when you look at all 10 episodes. Obviously people only watch it a week at a time, and I think at first people are going to be like, “Where is this heading?”—until we get to the later episodes. Then they’re going to be like, “That makes sense now. I get it.”

Maybe it’s just my book-reader self doing some projecting, but I’ve found Arya’s story to be one of the more consistently compelling this year. Still, it’s good to hear that there’s some kind of structure that will reveal itself by season’s end.

Entertainment Weekly also asked Williams which character off Arya’s death list she would kill if she got the chance, and her answer wasn’t perhaps what a lot of people were expecting.

The Red Woman. She’s bad news to everyone. [Melisandre has] been underestimated. She’s got a lot of power over everyone and ultimately she can be a really dangerous person. Arya doesn’t know that, but Maisie as an audience member knows that. We are seeing cracks in Cersei, but Melisandre doesn’t look like she’s losing steam anytime soon.

That’s an interesting choice, especially given that Arya left Melisandre off her death list countdown when she ran through it in “The House of Black and White.” Let’s all hope that Melisandre was right when she spoke to Arya back in Season 3 and predicted that the two of them would meet again, because that’s a showdown I would love to see.

As it has with Arya, the show has made understated but effective use of Brienne this year, as she waits patiently for a chance to aid Sansa in her ongoing battle with the Boltons. Brienne’s steadfastness has always been an admirable trait, and when Gwendoline Christie appeared on a panel at the Denver Comic Con, she talked about how Brienne’s dedication to the older Stark sister is a result of her having fallen “in love,” so to speak, with Catelyn Stark. Just as Brienne’s relationship with Renly was based on mutual respect, so it was with Catelyn. On a show where love often gets twisted into something ugly (see Cersei lying and warping her children in attempts to protect them) and where characters are motivated of all kinds of base desires, this is downright inspiring.

Also, Christie reveals that her stunt double during the bear fight back in Season 3 was, in fact, the bear’s male trainer, who spent months practicing the scene while wearing a dress and a wig to make the bear comfortable. It’ll be hard to watch that scene in quite the same way ever again.

Finally, Entertainment Weekly brings you the media’s latest attempt to make the Sand Snakes happen. The magazine sat Keisha Castle-Hughes (Obara), Jessica Henwick (Nymeria), and Rosabell Laurenti Sellers (Tyene) down in one place and drilled them on how they prepared for the roles. Most of it is stuff we’ve already heard concerning their weapons of choice and the training they underwent to get into fighting shape, although the actresses do squabble amusingly when asked which daughter Oberyn liked best. Mostly though, it seems everyone’s fighting an uphill battle to make these characters interesting. We’ll see if they can redeem themselves following several underwhelming appearances in the final three episodes of the season.

H/T ScienceFiction.com


  • Also, Christie reveals that her stunt double during the bear fight back in Season 3 was, in fact, the bear’s male trainer, who spent months practicing the scene while wearing a dress and a wig to make the bear comfortable. It’ll be hard to watch that scene in quite the same way ever again.


  • And yet, this show still recieves so much shit from critics for how it treats its female characters. Bullshit.

    • Every character has good days and bad ones; that’s equality in storytelling.

      Getting entertainment value from men killing and torturing each other, only to get outraged when a female character gets mistreated is privilege, not equality. It’s a double-standard where they happily munch on popcorn as they watch Theon being tortured, only to throw their snacks across the room if something bad happens to Sansa or Cersei.

  • Very quickly giving up on all these articles/content on this site. Lots of negative cynics who are very short sighted. Lots of idiot book purists who would rather have the show 100% faithful than good. And I’m just talking about the amateurs who run/write for this site. It’s lots of bitching and complaining, short sightedness and stupidity. I’ve read some great critiques of this season on other sites. The Sand Snakes will be more fleshed out as time goes on. In the books, they aren’t fleshed out at all. The characters need time to breath and develop which is what will happen over time. I’ve stopped reading most of the articles on this site but now I’m done for good. This isn’t a GOT site, it’s a cynical site run by idiots who talk out of their ass.

    • After three episodes’ worth of characterization they should have developed the Sand Snakes’ personalities a little more than “they fight real good and one has a crush on Bronn”. I envy your very unrealistic optimism w/r/t the Sand Snakes.

    • I agree James. The overwhelming negativity is starting to become a little ridiculous. It’s one thing to criticize certain aspects of a show you enjoy watching, it’s quite another when that negativity becomes the fundamental building block of every talking point and article of the show to the point where you would think the GoT was the worst thing on TV.

    • *scoffs* You mean Carol Lannister right? There is no show Cersei.

      jk (somewhat :P ) but that’s a weird stance to take. Although they changed aspects of all the characters (most notably Cat and Cersei in the female sector) they have definitive personalities (expect the sandsnakes atm)

  • That sand snake fight scene was pitiful. The actors are capable but the sand snake material is god awfull so far. I hope this doesnt affect Keisha’s career

  • Its hard to get a grasp on Arya this year as she’s missing so many episodes, the story has no momentum and when she is on screen the scenes are long but quiet and very little happens. You can look at episodes and you’ll see the glacial pace. Arya is let in the House, she brooms, she gets smacked around, she cleans dead bodies and that is all until episode 6 and when in episode 6 there is a bit of progression, she misses the next episode entirely.