Arya Stark famously killed the Night King in the final season of Game of Thrones. But according to the cast, it wasn’t always going to go that way.
Game of Thrones veteran Maisie Williams is everywhere these days, starring in less than three new shows and movies coming out around now: X-Men spinoff The New Mutants, horror film The Owners, and the Sky One drama Two Weeks to Live, where she plays a badass survivalist out to kill the man who murdered her father. Yes, we see some similarities, too.
The Owners, where she plays a girl who goes along with a home invasion scheme cooked up by her bully of a boyfriend, is a bigger change for her, and the first thing she did after wrapping up her time as Arya Stark on Game of Thrones. “I did like that we didn’t have any green screens,” she told The Hollywood Reporter, talking about how she adjusted to doing something smaller and more modern after spending eight seasons in Westeros. “A lot of the emotions are a lot more realistic and a lot more pared back. I had really missed that, and so I was glad to be able to just do a lot of really interesting dialogue scenes and see the power dynamics between two people and how that can play out when there aren’t any weapons involved.”
Also, wearing modern clothes is a nice change. “I was quite lucky in that my Game of Thrones outfits were always far comfier than other people’s, I think. Or maybe I just don’t complain as much. (Laughs.) But it was nice to be able to just get dressed in ten minutes rather than getting dressed in a half an hour.”
Honestly, it almost feels wrong to watch Williams panicked and horrified after watching her kick so much ass and take so many names on Game of Thrones for so long, but it does show off that she has range. Still, THR wondered if it was difficult for Williams to not look imposing with a weapon in her new role. “I found that on Game of Thrones, they were always, like, ‘Look cooler. Do it faster. Be stronger,'” Williams said. “I feel like we got to a place on Game of Thrones where I looked very slick, but I don’t think that that’s so natural. (Laughs.)”
Williams talks intelligently about her new movie and the movie industry in general, but the most interesting part of the interview may be where she talks about Arya killing the Night King in the final season of Game of Thrones, something a lot of people assumed would be done by Jon Snow (Kit Harington). Among those people? Harington himself.
[Kit Harington] expected it to go that way, too, and he even said, “It was going to go that way. Someone told me in season 3 that I was going to kill The Night King.” And then, he read the script, and it was Arya the whole time. (Laughs.) Yeah, I think it would’ve been too obvious. I’m glad that it was Arya, honestly. I think I had the best storyline of the final season. (Laughs.)
I know the decision to have Arya kill the Night King ruffled some feathers among fans, but even though I had issues with season 8 (like a lot of other people), I really liked Arya’s big moment, and agree that she had one of the better arcs from the final suite of episodes.
I’ll also caution that there may be more to the story than Williams is suggesting off-hand here. For one thing, the Night King wasn’t even a character in season 3; he made his first appearance in season 4. And in season 3, showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss hadn’t yet heard from George R.R. Martin what the ending was going to be, so they couldn’t have started to plan for it that much.
I say all this to get ahead of possible interpretations of, “They changed the ending in the last minute to avoid giving us what we wanted!” At the least, we need more information.
What thing I think we can all agree on is that Williams should use Arya’s defeat of the Night King to mock Kit Harington more often in the Game of Thrones cast member group chat. “We do tease Kit, but it’s usually about other things, which I probably can’t say,” she laughed. “But I don’t tease him about the dagger moment at all, but maybe I should. That’s a new weapon that I can use. (Laughs.)”
As for what’s next, THR asked Williams to contemplate a world where she meets little girls named “Arya,” or at least “Maisie.” People do name their kids after Game of Thrones characters. That is a documented thing.
“I hadn’t thought about that,” Williams laughed. “I have never encountered an Arya. I’ve encountered a couple of Arya cats, people have tweeted me pictures of their children, but I don’t think I’ve ever met an Arya in the flesh. But, yeah, there are going to be girls that grow up, and they’ll have no idea who they’re named after. Maybe, they’ll watch one day, but it’ll be so part of a different time — a different time where we all sat down and watched a show every Sunday night at 9 p.m. (Laughs.) These kids are just never going to experience television or film in the same way that we experienced that show, so it is funny to think about.”