Williams says no to perfect, made-up girls

Arya Stark (above).
Arya Stark (above).PHOTO: HBO

Maisie Williams was barely in her teens when she was cast as the tomboyish young girl Arya Stark in the first season of Game Of Thrones. She took it all in her stride.

"I didn't realise how lucky I was when I started to play Arya," says Williams, now 19. "I get to play a girl who is so real, so honest, so believable and imperfect."

Now that she is older and more experienced, she understands the scarcity of characters like hers. "It is not until I have gone on to read other projects and films that I realised this character is quite unique. I've realised how rare it is to get characters like that," she says.

"Now I feel I never want to take on a character that I don't believe in or one who is written just for the benefit of another character.

"It has given me the confidence to say, 'No, I am going to play only girls that I know and have seen and met before', rather than playing a made-up, perfect girl from next door who wouldn't exist in real life."

Stark has suffered terribly the past five seasons, losing her family, travelling alone through a dangerous world and learning to exact her revenge. She played a prominent role last year and ended up suffering horribly, losing her sight as the season hit its climax.

It is not until I have gone on to read other projects and films that I realised this character is quite unique...Now I feel I never want to take on a character that I don’t believe in or one who is written just for the benefit of another character.

ACTRESS MAISIE WILLIAMS on how her character, Arya Stark, in Game Of Thrones changed her perspective on female roles

"I've been wearing opaque contact lenses this season and I can't really see anything," says Williams. "It's not frightening. There's always lots of people escorting me around, so I don't worry I am going to trip.

"But I did have a lot of physical stuff to do and it's a real inconvenience, which is good because Arya shouldn't find it easy."

With the loss of her sight, her tutor in the House of Black and White, Jaqen H'ghar, will hone her other senses, transforming her into an even deadlier assassin.

That said, Stark is in for a tough time this year. "A lot of bad stuff happens," Williams says. "This series, we see a crack in Arya's strong exterior. We see her broken down and stripped back. It is all part of her progress and it is brutal.

"It is the first time you question whether she is going to get back up again. She's always had a bit of fire, but this year, we see her alone and questioning what she is doing."

There are no such doubts for Williams. The young actress has seen her career flourish, taking a starring role in 2014's critically acclaimed British indie film The Falling, for which she won the London Film Critics' Circle Award for Young Performer of the Year. She also starred in the last season of the hit BBC television series Doctor Who.

This year, she will appear in the feature film dramas The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea and A Storm In The Stars.

"People ask me if I feel I've missed out on a normal teenage life, but I still feel that I've very much lived a normal teenage life.

"I went to school and I still have friends from school. I just try to live in this crazy world as normally as I can."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 20, 2016, with the headline 'Williams says no to perfect, made-up girls'. Print Edition | Subscribe