Maisie Williams (Arya) talks being a “bad guy” in Game of Thrones season 7, what to expect from season 8


Maisie Williams (Arya Stark) was one of the last Game of Thrones cast members to finish filming scenes for the final season of the show. Now that it’s all over, she sat down with The Australian to talk about her journey, from her first audition to life after season 8.

As Arya grew up onscreen, Williams went from being a fresh-faced kid who liked “climbing trees and running around” to a powerful mover and shaker in Hollywood. At her initial audition, she remembers “meeting lots of really scary girls and really scary mums,” but immediately bonded with Sophie Turner, who went on to play her onscreen sister Sansa. “She was just the nicest girl ever. To find out we were going to be shooting together put me at ease, just knowing I already had a friend.”

But Williams was still a kid, and her success made day-to-day life tricky. “I had a tough time at school and was asked to leave because of my attendance,” she said. “Lots of people had not-very-nice things to say about me, and no one here had really heard of the show.” But once she got a load of the “hundreds, maybe thousands” of fans on her first press tour, she started to change her mindset. “It was a moment when my mum and I realised how big the show was and that this was my career now, and I was like, ‘We made the right choice. It’s all going to work out; it’s going to be OK.’”

And there are upsides to being young and on a successful show, too, like getting to watch the famously violent and sexual Thrones with you grandmother next to you on the sofa. “Bless her, my mum just plies her with more and more gin.” At first, Williams’ and Turners’ parents tried to shield them from those aspects of the series, but gave it up pretty early on since it only piqued their daughters’ interests — and really, if you’re on the set of Game of Thrones, there’s probably no avoiding stuff like that. “The sex was just quite ­embarrassing and awkward for us,” Williams said matter-of-factly. “Most of the gory stuff I was part of, and it’s not scary when you’re there shooting it. No one’s really getting their face ripped off. So it’s quite exciting really.”

As for criticisms that the show is misogynistic, Williams doesn’t buy it:

"I’ve never, ever felt like this is a misogynistic show. The best and most powerful characters are all women … I’ve only ever been inspired by the women, and how they gain power and control and take their destinies into their own hands."

That group of women includes Arya herself, who Williams thinks fans rooted for in the beginning because “it was really refreshing to see a young girl who was so feisty and confident.” She also enjoyed bringing out Arya’s dark(er) side during the show’s seventh season, where it looked for a minute like she might turn her finely-tuned assassination skills on Sansa:

"That was good fun — to feel like an enemy, like a bad guy. Often you’re cheering for her because she’s about to kill someone everyone hates, but when you see her do that with a character everyone loves, to see her so furious at her sister, it’s really, really powerful. She’s one step away from spinning out of control."

And of course, Williams gave a little hint about what’s to come in season 8. “I think people are gonna like it,” she said, smiling in “a wolfish, Arya-like way” according to The Australian. Is now a good time to remind everyone that Williams posted a picture of her bloody sneakers to Instagram on her last day of filming?

Looking to the future, Williams is eager to invest the money she’s made from Thrones into projects like Daisie, a social media app for “creatives” that she hopes will give writers, artists, entrepreneurs and the like a chance to get their work seen. “I believe in this. We’ve got something really special that will benefit a lot of people my age.” And of course, she’ll keep acting, too. She’s going places, and she’s doing it on her own terms.

"I’ve been thinking a lot lately about before the show and how normal it was, and how I’m going to have a normal — well, maybe not completely normal — but I’m going to have a life after the show…I look back to the harder times we had and how much my mum struggled being a single mother with four kids — just thinking about how different my life could have been, and how lucky I am in that I’ve been able to provide for my family … It’s an amazing thing."

The final season of Game of Thrones will air sometime in the first half of 2019.

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