INTERVIEW: Maisie Williams
Just three little words: but if they mean nothing to you then you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years. And no one knows this better than Maisie Williams, who plays Arya Stark in the award winning series. The bloody fantasy drama series seems far removed from the bubbly, 17-year-old Maisie Williams we meet. Winning the role of tomboy Arya Stark at just twelve-years-old, Maisie was actually hurtling toward a career in dance, not acting.
How did one turn into the other?
“I did an improv class where I got scouted and I met my agent and we started auditioning for films. I auditioned for one movie that I didn’t get the part in, still dancing all the way along, and then my second ever audition was for Game of Thrones. It was a very accidental process which I’m actually really thrilled about.” Five years into her role as the indefatigable Arya Stark, Bristol girl Maisie is becoming accustomed to ever increasing recognition. “In the last year things have really taken off in the UK. It’s very, very exciting but also means my old life is slowly being chipped away and replaced with this new lifestyle…” This lifestyle, and the star-spotting opportunities it affords, sometimes catch the actress off guard. “I think I’m too much of a fan girl to be in this industry. I’m in the position where I can meet my idols – I can do that!”
So how does she react when she meets someone she really admires?
“What I do is I go bright red and melt into a puddle of human and get really nervous! I never really scream at someone, I tend to do the silent thing and go … ‘I love you!’” Arya Stark has developed a devoted following – but she’s savvy enough to not let it get to her head. “It’s a crazy, crazy world but I’ve kind of grown up with it and had time to get used to it I guess. I remember one day that I got up and I couldn’t get out of the house. But it’s happened very slowly and my family has been great about giving me loads of time to just relax and give me space to be myself and not have to worry about any expectations. “I’ve had a really positive experience with this world and I know that it’s sometimes not like that … I know a lot of young actors that are thrust into this sort of success and limelight and do find it overwhelming and I can completely understand why…”
Maisie’s onscreen counterpart also has to grow up under some curious circumstances. Has this led to a certain affinity between actor and character?
“Exactly. I mean we’ve both been put into really alien worlds. Arya thought she got this world and thought she knew what she wanted and then slowly as everything is unravelling around her she realises home is left and she’s had to grow up very quickly. There’s a lot of untrustworthy people around and this world isn’t what she once imagined. And I feel that, trying not to put it too simply, I felt the same. I didn’t know what to expect from this world and slowly but surely I’ve realised how to act and what to say and how people will interpret things and that you’re never going to please everyone.”
Perhaps this affinity with those seeking their place in the world encouraged Maisie to embark upon her role as a YouYou mentoring ambassador. The charity supports 17-21 year olds trying to find work within their chosen creative industry and Maisie recently posed for a photo-shoot to grant YouYou photography mentees valuable experience. “It was different to a lot of other shoots that don’t really cater to your personality. It really came across that they looked into the things that I like … they had researched me which sounds silly but actually makes it such a nicer atmosphere when you’re on set.”
Maisie gives credit to the YouYou creative hopefuls; “they were all new to this industry and so lovely. We had so much in common and I just love the concept of it all really.” We’re hardly surprised the YouYou mentees gelled so well with Maisie. Judging from our conversation with Maisie, you’d struggle not to like her. Maisie Williams is a YouYou mentoring ambassador.