Interviews

Published on March 3rd, 2015 | by admin

MAISIE WILLIAMS (Arya Stark from Game of Thrones)

How are you?

I’m great. It’s so much fun to be able to do stuff as yourself. The show is so popular that people are constantly calling me Arya, which is really fantastic, but it is nice to do stuff as Maisie, too.

Do you like meeting the fans?

I love meeting the fans. I don’t see this segregation between famous people and normal people because it’s complete rubbish; there is no difference. Doing fan things, you meet some really interesting people and make some good friends, too. You’ve all got a common interest. I just think it’s fascinating, and what the fans have done for this show is absolutely amazing. They’ve got so many questions, and know so much about it, so I’m learning from them constantly. They’re asking questions about upcoming seasons – ‘Do you think they’ll put this in?’ – and we can have a really good gossip about basically what my whole life is at the moment.

Would you be watching it if you weren’t in it?

If I wasn’t in Game of Thrones, I would be at a dance school right now. I would not watch any television. Dancing would be my whole life, and I would be stretching right now, working on routines, instead of talking about a show that I love. When I was ten I auditioned for a stage school called Tring, which is just outside London. I got in, but I didn’t get any funding. We’re not really from a place where we have much money, so that wasn’t really an option. I auditioned again the next year, and I got 40% funding, but it still wasn’t enough. The crazy thing is that I stopped that and did the acting, and now I’ve got the money to do that, to go to dance school, but I don’t necessarily want to anymore. It’s crazy how your life can change overnight. I wanted to dance, but I was very open to the whole performing thing in general, which is how I really got here. If the acting thing hadn’t have happened, I would still be on the dancing path. I’d still love to do that, if it was an option but I’m very happy with the way things have worked out.

How old were you when you started Game of Thrones?

Twelve. I did my audition in the spring, and then we heard in the August, and then we started shooting in September. For me, it was like the quickest year of my life. At the beginning of the year, I was auditioning for stage school, and was getting in, but it wasn’t looking like an option, and then at the end of the year, I was about to be in the most successful TV series. It was just a crazy year.

How long has it been now?

Four years. It’s just getting more and more crazy year after year. No one could have predicted the size that it’s gotten to. It’s still growing, and I feel like it’s happened very slowly and gradually. I haven’t just been dropped into it. I have had a chance to get used to it, and I’ve grown up with it as well, so every day I’m changing as a person and things are changing in this world. It’s been the best years of my life, but at times it’s been very stressful too. Sometimes I do have to watch what I’m doing because I can feel people staring or taking pictures. Occasionally you do have to stop yourself and be like, ‘Okay, this is what your life is now.’ I feel like people who complain about that are just silly because when you signed up to this job, that’s what comes with it, and that’s the downside to doing this amazing job, where you get paid to do what you love. We’re the lucky people. Some people are sat doing a 9-5 job that they’ve never wanted to do, and I feel like we’ve been given this opportunity to create and do what we’ve always dreamed of. The downside is that occasionally you are going to get the odd picture of you on the Internet, but that’s tough luck really. Nothing comes for free in this world.

Is it strange knowing how long you could be with Game of Thrones?

This show could go on until I’m twenty, or something, and people are like, ‘Would you want to do it that long?’ Um… yeah! Not just because I want to do the show for that long, but because no-one else will ever play Arya – she is mine! She may be different to the books – I haven’t read them, though I do know what happens – but this is how I’ve wanted to play it. Someone else doing it would just be heart breaking for me.

Where did we leave Arya at the end of season three?

We’ve just started to see a little spark in Arya – this kind of twisted darker side – and it’s starting to get a little bit scary now. We’re not quite sure what she’s capable of. We’ve just witnessed her mother and brother being murdered at the Red Wedding. She knows that she’s definitely not safe. She doesn’t know if Sansa is alive; she doesn’t know if Bran is alive; she doesn’t know about Rickon, or Jon Snow; she doesn’t know if she’s got anyone out there anymore. I think she has just completely given up on anything she has ever wanted to do. ‘Whatever this world decides to throw at me, I’m going to take it. I’m not going to try and get home. I’m not going to try to do anything.’ Instead of trying to control her path, I think she’s open to whatever is going to be thrown at her now.

What’s in store for Arya in season four?

For Arya, they’ve written in a whole load of new stuff in season four. Everything with her is a complete bonus, because it wasn’t written in the books. Things had to happen this year: I had to get Needle back; the Hound had to get injured. Arya gets Needle back right at the beginning of the year. Instead of building it up to the final episode, this year there’s peaks and troughs throughout the whole thing. There’s not just a big finale – there’s things to keep you interested the whole way through. The first episode, the premiere, is so strong and I’m so happy about this year, for Arya getting needle back in a big fight. I feel like it’s a great start to seeing her back again, and it’s a new side to her as well: there’s killing, there’s blood.

So Arya has had to toughen up?

Exactly. People talk about these strong female characters. She’s a strong female character, but no one sees her as a female character anymore. Everything light hearted about what she was is gone. She’s here and ready to kill.

What else is going to happen with Arya?

We meet a farmer and his daughter, and they take in The Hound and Arya. They have dinner talk about how the whole world of Westeros is changing and how there are riots all the time, so no one is really safe. The farmer offers for Arya and The Hound to stay there, and to work for a fair wage, which Arya seems open to. Again, she’s not trying to control her destiny – she’s just trying to go with the flow. And then the next day she realises that The Hound has killed the farmer and is walking off with all his money, and that’s when she gets really angry with him, because that was an innocent man. You start to see this loyal side to the Starks come out. The Hound basically turns around and tells her how it is: ‘If you’re going to survive in this world you need to pay attention. Just because he didn’t do anything wrong, doesn’t mean he did anything right. He had to go.’ That’s when you see Arya really start to change, when she realises that yeah, maybe Syrio isn’t around because he danced around rather than fighting and getting to the point. The point is to kill someone rather than do it prettily. I think she’s starting to take a bit from The Hound.

In the books, Arya heads overseas. Do we see that?

MW: That’s the final shot of this series. The end of series four is Arya on the boat. That was a really interesting film to shoot because I was talking to (director) Alex Graves, and he didn’t just want this powerful ending, he wanted it to actually mean something. We were talking about it and he said, ‘We want to see a bit more vulnerability in Arya.’ So when she’s looking out over Westeros, over what she used to have, and when she turns round, she takes this deep breath, almost nervously, like anything that she ever had is now completely lost. She’s going to have to give up on that now, and go and do whatever comes her way. She seems very tough but it’s that moment where we really see that she’s going to live for herself now, and she’s going to stop trying to look out for her family.

Is it difficult to keep up with schoolwork when you’re filming?

If we were shooting for more than ten consecutive days, we’d have a tutor. A lot of the time, we were shooting for maybe seven days or six days, so there wasn’t a tutor often on set. I really enjoyed that because this is a big deal and I wanted to concentrate on this, and it’s so hard to memorise your lines, and then go off and do some maths or some German. In the first few years, I caught up fine at school, so that wasn’t an issue at all. And then in Year 10 it started to get a bit worse. My school were never very supportive of it, and I was a bit of an inconvenience for them, so they politely asked me to leave. I became home-schooled. I started doing more promotion for the show. I went to Amsterdam and Poland with Liam Cunningham, and we had a great time, and while we were there, that was while the GCSEs were happening, so I didn’t manage to do my exams. I’ve just started at Bath Dance College, without my exams. They’re extremely understanding, obviously, that I can go off.

Do you think your future will be in acting?

It will be in performing. I’d love to dance. I used to do ballet when I was four or five, at the local village hall. That was in Clutton, between Bath and Bristol. That kind of faded out as I got a bit older. I always enjoyed dancing but again, it was the money thing. I have two brothers and a sister, so I wasn’t the only one that Mum had to worry about. I’m the youngest. My oldest brother was going off to university, and things like that. I did a local pantomime, and one of the mums was a dance teacher and she said, ‘You should really get Maisie into that.’ So we went to a different dance school, called Susan Hill School of Dancing, when I was nine or ten, and they were how it all started really. It was absolutely fantastic, and I was enjoying it so much, and then we did a talent show, where I met my agent, and then we started auditioning.

How did you get the role of Arya?

I was obviously unknown. I’d never done anything before. I’d only ever done one audition before, and that was for Nanny McPhee 2. I wanted to dance, so in my eyes, I was a bit like, ‘What are we doing here?’ But I had nothing to lose. My agent pushed really hard for me to get an audition because they’d already done the first rounds and they weren’t really looking for anyone else. They didn’t find anyone so they did open up the casting again. I went along, and they were immediately interested. I think I looked good for the part, and they spoke to my agent again, and then I did another audition, and I met loads of other girls who were auditioning for Sansa – we did chemistry reads together. I was just having a great time. I got all these trips up to London. I ended up getting the part and then this has been my life ever since.

Are you close with the other actors?

Yeah. Sophie Turner [Sansa]. This as a common interest is like the most perfect thing. When I’m at home with all my friends and stuff, it’s fantastic, but no one understands this like she does, obviously, because she’s going through it too. It is a really strong connection, this world. I get on so well with her. She’s such a great laugh, and I’m so glad to have someone on the show who is a similar age, because it is a show full of adults, and sometimes it does get a little bit serious. It is nice to just go back to the hotel and make stupid Vine videos, and mess around.

Where has most of your filming been done?

I’ve been in Ireland for all three series. In series one, I did get to go to Malta for a few weeks, for the beheading and things like that. All the interior stuff is in Ireland, but Arya is always exterior, so I’ve been in the Mourne Mountains, and all over the place. I love it.

Have you watched the Red Wedding reaction videos on You-tube?

It’s hilarious. I’ve never seen anything like that! I’ve never seen people videoing reactions to a series before. It’s because there’s nothing quite so shocking as Game of Thrones. We killed the main character! I just love it so much, because it’s everything that I’ve ever wanted to watch in a film. Whenever I’m watching a film, I get all gripped and I’m like, ‘What’s going to happen?’ But I always know, in the back of my head that the good guy is going to win. But with Game of Thrones the good guy didn’t win, and lots of good guys aren’t winning. If it does come to the day when George [R.R. Martin] kills Arya, it will be completely heart breaking, but it’ll be such a brilliant twist. People will hate it, but it keeps people interested. You can’t do four seasons of a show with the good guys always winning.

Does season four have big moments like the Red Wedding?

Yeah. This time we have enemies dying, too. Lots of people were like, ‘If they do another Red Wedding, I’m not watching anymore.’ So this year, it’s really good because some bad characters die. Some people that we want to die are going. It is exciting and I think people are going to like that, and it’s going to keep them interested as well, because if you keep killing the good guys, no-one is going to want to watch. You just get heart-broken all the time, and you can’t get attached to anyone.

Who is your favourite character apart from Arya?

This changes all the time. There are so many fantastic characters. I love Cersei [played by Lena Headey]. I think she’s such an interesting character. You just love to hate her, but in a really weird way, I’m kind of rooting for her and Jamie [Nikolaj Coster-Waldau], which sounds really twisted. It’s kind of odd, but I think she’s a very interesting character. And Lena [Headey] said something very interesting in an interview once: ‘I think Cersei wants to be Jamie, because at the moment she is a woman in a man’s world, and that’s the one thing that’s stopping her from taking over everything.’ She is getting there slowly, and I think she’d be fantastic on the Iron Throne. Not for Arya, but I think it would be such an interesting twist.

Have you ever been tempted to ask George how it all turns out?

I ask him how it ends all the time! (laughs) He’s told me a few little things, but I can’t say, because he was like, ‘Don’t tell anyone!’ But he has told me a few little things that are going to be in the new book – no massive twists, only little things to do with Arya. But oh my God, it was so exciting! But he’s not going to tell me how it ends! He won’t tell anyone. He only told David and Dan in this sworn-in contract thing. I do play one of his favourite characters, but I don’t know if that really stands for anything, but it’s his life’s work and really, what an incredible story it is.


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