You know her as “Arya Stark,” on the hit HBO series, Game of Thrones. We spoke this week with actress Maisie Williams to discuss her new movie, “Heatstroke,” as well as her upcoming projects and some thoughts on Jack Gleeson.
ET: You must be very busy!
MW: It’s not too bad! The madness is about to begin [The fifth season of, Game of Thrones, starts shooting next month.]
ET: The movie is Heatstroke, written and directed by Evelyn Purcell. What made you choose this role?
MW: I’ll be completely honest; when this role came about, I was in no position to be picky about roles. It wasn’t like I sat down with 10 scripts and said, “I’ll do that one!” I was an unknown actress at the time [the film was shot over 2 years ago.] Every three or four scripts that I read, one gets made, but even that doesn’t mean that they are going to want me in a role. I’m still not in a position to be picky about roles, but when this came about, the question was, “Do you want to go to South Africa to shoot a movie for six weeks?” Oh sure!
It was a wonderful experience. Evelyn Purcell gave me a lot of creative freedom, as I am used to working on the well-oiled machine that is, Game of Thrones. On this production, there was a very intimate feeling about it all. We had time to rehearse, go out to dinner, have personal time, ect.
ET: How did you approach this character?
MW: I was still pretty new to acting when we shot it. I didn’t have some kind of process! I’m no method actor. I worked for a few days with an acting coach that was on the set every morning. I was worried that people wouldn’t accept my American accent, but that was it.
ET: How was shooting in Africa?
MW: It was amazing! We shot it earlier in the year, and the weather was fine. That said, I had to be careful because I burn quite easily and the ozone is quite thin down in that part of the world.
ET: The Lion King really did a disservice to hyenas, didn’t it?
MW: The Lion King was a big exaggeration, but they are still odd looking creatures and something we don’t see all the time. There is a reason we didn’t domesticate them.
Having them on a film set was a very interesting and crazy experience. They weren’t really trained. They are quite unpredictable and you can’t make them roll over. We had to be careful around them; we couldn’t wear perfume, for example. They had a trainer but it’s not like a whistle and a click. They were still very much wild animals and we had to be respectful to that.
ET: As opposed to how you behave around the direwolves on the GOT set.
MW: You know it!
ET: Your next film coming out this year is called, “The Falling.” Tell us about that.
MW: It’s a very intense film that explores how teenaged girls in an all-girls school in the ’60s deal with their souls when they’re abandoned by their parents and left on their own. Things are bound to bubble up inside and become something bigger. My character is completely different from anything I’ve ever played before. She finds herself in the middle of a fainting epidemic, and decides to get to the bottom of it and, in the process, reveals secrets about the other characters and herself. I’m so used to playing Arya, a strong character who doesn’t take any crap from anyone, but this character is so different. She’s a hero, but with more shades of grey.
ET: What is your vision for your career in 5 years, 10 years, and beyond?
MW: I love performing, I love to dance, I love acting. I’m lucky to have found what I’m good at in life and I want to stay here as long as I can. I don’t know, I might change my mind in a few years and do something else, but that’s the wonderful thing; I’m only 17 and nothing is set in stone.
ET: What do you think of Jack Gleeson retiring from acting?
MW: I don’t feel like it is Jack, “retiring.” I just think that he has other things he’s great at. Jack is one of these guys who are so good at everything. He’s so smart and talented in acting at the same time. It’s not fair, you gotta pick one, dude! Anyway, he’s great at so much that now that he’s done with Joffrey, and he’s so young, other things have taken priority. That doesn’t mean he won’t come back to acting. Whatever he ends up doing, he’ll be just fine.
ET: Speaking of your own youth, you find yourself in a strange world in which you get to travel the world and sit on Comic-Con panels, yet you can’t book your own hotel or drink alcohol legally.
MW: I agree, It’s the weirdest world ever. I can’t stay in a hotel by myself, but I’ve already moved out of my parents house, I fly all over the world and I make my own money and do my own work. But I’m not allowed to buy a hammer. Go figure.
ET: Finally, thank you for the audio commentary on the Season 1 Blu-ray of GOT in which you, Sophie Turner and Isaac Hempstead-Wright sang the theme song. I fell out of my chair laughing.
EW: Brilliant, I’m glad you liked it! That wasn’t even a planned thing; it just sort of happened.