Maisie Williams “resented Arya” while filming Game of Thrones

Image: Game of Thrones/HBO
Image: Game of Thrones/HBO /

There were a lot of beloved characters on Game of Thrones, but few were as universally liked as Arya Stark. From rebellious tomboy to deadly assassin who killed the Night King, she was always a thrill to watch, in no small part thanks to the work of Maisie Williams, who had no formal acting training before auditioning. “We had seen hundreds of young people for the part,” casting director Robert Sterne told GQ, “and then in walked Maisie being honest and brave and unfazed and direct and funny; asking interesting questions. I don’t know how she did it.”

According to Sterne, the writers “reveled in writing more and more for her character.” Pretty soon, Williams was known the world over, but playing a part this big at such a young age doesn’t come without its challenges. For instance, Arya remained a kid for a while, even as Williams herself was growing up; Williams was cast when she was 12 years old and the final season aired when she was 22. “I think that when I started becoming a woman, I resented Arya because I couldn’t express who I was becoming,” Williams mused. “And then I also resented my body, because it wasn’t aligned with the piece of me that the world celebrated.”

Maisie Williams: “I don’t think it’s healthy [to miss Game of Thrones], because I loved it.”

At one point, GQ asked Williams what parts of the show she missed, and she gave a pretty thoughtful answer. “Can I say none of it?”

"I don’t think it’s healthy [to miss it], because I loved it. I look at it so fondly, and I look at it with such pride. But why would I want to make myself feel sad about the greatest thing that ever happened to me? I don’t want to associate that with feelings of pain."

Fair enough.

After Game of Thrones ended, Williams took the opportunity to get out of the spotlight and try different kinds of roles; she compared the experience to “being born again.” Suddenly she could do things that she couldn’t while she was on the biggest show in the world; even something like dying her hair pink felt freeing. “I was rejecting a lot of the pieces of me and my image that I’d been so well known for,” she said. “I needed to express myself…I think that sometimes other people need a helping hand to see that you’re a different person, and I don’t resent that.”

That said, the idea of her returning to the role of Arya down the line isn’t out of the question…

Maisie Williams is open to an Arya Stark spinoff: “It has to be the right time and the right people.”

Naturally, GQ asked Williams if she might ever play Arya Stark again. After all, Game of Thrones ended with Arya sailing off into the sunset for parts unknown; if any character is a natural fit for a spinoff, it’s her.

“I’m not saying it would never happen,” Williams said with a grin, “but I’m also not saying it in this interview so that everyone goes, ‘The spin-off! It’s coming!’ Because it’s not.”

"It has to be the right time and the right people. It has to be right in the context of all the other spin-offs and the universe of Game of Thrones…It has to be the right time for me."

I’m on board with all of that…but I think we’ll see an Arya miniseries or movie sooner or later. Anyone taking odds?

Jordan approved of Maisie Williams playing her in Pistol

You can next see Williams in Pistol, a docudrama about the iconic British punk band the Sex Pistols. She plays Pamela Rooke, aka Jordan, who’s sense of style was credited with popularizing the punk aesthetic.

Jordan herself advised Williams on the role, and gave her full approval. “Maisie is somebody who never really wants to be encompassed by security,” Jordan tells me. “She wanted to push it all to the limit.”

Director Danny Boyle also had great things to say about Williams:

"It was the perfect opportunity for [Williams] to own a big character. She’s a great realistic actor, but Jordan [rejects] the very idea of everyday life. Maisie’s a bit like that herself. In a quieter, sweeter way, there’s a touch of Oscar Wilde about her, leading an awkward, self-conscious nation into being braver about sexuality, sensuality, gender, beauty…"

With people like that in her corner, Williams can go as far as she wants. Pistol premieres on FX and Hulu on May 31.

Next. See Game of Thrones vets John Bradley and Alfie Allen in new trailers!. dark

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