Aisling Franciosi on playing Lyanna Stark, what Lyanna whispered to Ned, and more


Actress Aisling Franciosi appeared in only one scene in Game of Thrones Season 6*, but it was an important one. As Lyanna Stark, she popped up in “The Winds of Winter” in one of Bran’s trips into the past. We saw Lyanna on her deathbed, having just given birth to an infant boy who would grow up to become Jon Snow. Franciosi seemed pretty pleased with the small part she played.

The 23-year-old Irish actress sat down with shortly after “The Winds of Winter” aired to discuss the casting process, what Lyanna whispered to Ned in that tower, and where the character may go from here.

Before being cast as Lyanna, Franciosi had—horror of horrors—never seen Game of Thrones. “It had been on my list of things to watch but I hadn’t actually seen it yet,” she said. “And when I auditioned for the role, I was like ‘OK I’m going to start getting into it…’ Then I was binge watching episodes, like eight in a row.”

Casting an actress who had never seen the show may have appealed to HBO, as the company was very keen this year to keep spoilers and leaks to a minimum. In fact, HBO kept the identity of Franciosi’s role a secret from her for a long time. “They didn’t have the real names of anyone,” she said. “So I didn’t actually know I was playing Lyanna until I got the actual scene. Which was much closer to shooting time.” If HBO keeps going down this route, we expect them to seal the actors in an airtight room after they’ve shot their scenes for Season 7, and to not let them out until after all the episodes have aired.

Still, with Franciosi, the network needn’t have worried. She made sure not to tell anyone she was even involved with the show until after Season 6 was over. “You get wrapped up in things that you enjoy watching and to have someone in any way ruin it or spoil it can be pretty devastating so I was definitely not going to do it with something as big as [Game of Thrones].” That’s someone I’m sure HBO is happy to have our their side.

That doesn’t necessarily mean Franciosi will be back for Season 7, though. Those who have read George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire books can probably think of a couple more flashbacks that could feature Lyanna—the tournament at Harrenhal, for instance—but the actress says that nothing is certain.

"I really don’t know. I haven’t heard anything yet so it depends on what they want to do going forward. I’m as much in the dark as everyone else on that one."

Finally, Franciosi talked about what exactly Lyanna whispered to Ned right before the scene cut away. We didn’t hear precisely what she said, but we got the gist—right afterward, the show cut between the face of Lyanna’s baby boy and the face of the full-grown Jon Snow, confirming that the two were one and the same, so the whisper probably had something to do with that. Perhaps she told Ned that the baby’s father was Rhaegar Targaryen, or what she’d like him to be named.

Franciosi, exemplary worker that she is, doesn’t talk specifics, but she does reveal that something was said. She wasn’t just miming words so we would get the impression that Lyanna was telling Ned something of significance.

"Yeah I did whisper an actual sentence. I don’t know what they’re going to do going forward and I don’t know what importance it has so I’m definitely not going to risk saying anything."

All we can do now is speculate, and see where this revelation goes in Game of Thrones Season 7.

*Young Lyanna Stark was played by Cordelia Hill in “Home”