Game Of Thrones actress stuns with stunts

New face on the series Game Of Thrones, Jessica Henwick, is tough enough to do her own action sequences

Nymeria Sand (above). -- PHOTO: HBO ASIA
Nymeria Sand (above). -- PHOTO: HBO ASIA
Jessica Henwick (above). -- PHOTO: HBO ASIA

British actress Jessica Henwick may be one of the newest cast members of Game Of Thrones, but she set out to prove from the start that she was a force to be reckoned with.

Speaking to regional media at a roundtable interview at Crowne Plaza Changi Airport yesterday, the 22-year-old told the story of how she surprised some of the television show's veteran actors with her physical strength, especially when filming the intense action sequences.

Actors such as Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Jerome Flynn, for instance, who play the roles of Jaime Lannister and Bronn respectively in the show, were caught off guard by how tough she was, she says with a chuckle.

"I think Nikolaj and Jerome had really low expectations of what I and the other Sand Snakes could do," says the actress, who plays Nymeria Sand, one of three vicious Sand Snakes sisters featured on the show's fifth and latest season. They are out to avenge their father's death. The other two are portrayed by American actress Rosabell Laurenti Sellers and New Zealand actress Keisha Castle-Hughes.

Henwick adds with a laugh: "So when we got on set on that first day, I think we really wanted to prove that we could do the roles. I didn't use a stunt double that day filming with Nikolaj. But Nikolaj got tired and had to use a stunt double."

Dressed in an elegant cream outfit, the bubbly star was in good spirits, even though she had just flown in from London at 3am yesterday.

The actress, whose father is British and mother a Chinese Singaporean, is excited to be back in Singapore. She says it is her first visit in five years.

"It's been so long since I've been here and the place has changed so much, so I'm just looking forward to doing a lot of sightseeing," she says.

Later this week, Life! will also be spending a day with her, visiting some of her favourite eating spots in town.

Growing up, the London-based star would come here on holiday at least once a year until she was 14 years old. The last time she was in Singapore was in 2010, when she travelled here with a group of friends on a trip around South-east Asia.

She made headlines for not only being the first Game Of Thrones star with a Singaporean connection, but also the first South-east Asian actress to be cast in all of the show's five seasons.

"Honestly, I was very surprised when I found out that I was the first. In fact, the show didn't even want an Asian actress at first and they wanted a black actress in my role. I had to fight to get the part and I'm really glad I have," says the star, who was featured previously on British television shows such as Spirit Warriors (2009 - 2010) and legal drama Silk (2004).

"A lot of other actors of ethnic minority came to me and said all these wonderful things and were like, 'Oh my god, finally'."

Game Of Thrones is her biggest break yet and she still finds it hard to believe that she is part of the show.

"I was a huge fan of the show and just a year ago, I was watching it and going, 'Wow, wouldn't it be amazing if I could act in that.' And now, here I am," she says, sounding genuinely in awe.

Already, she has seen her star rise and it all started even before the new season's broadcast.

"When we were filming in Spain, we didn't realise that we were being followed by a paparazzo for 24 hours. He went on to publish our photos and suddenly, we went from random people just staying in a hotel to the new cast members of Game Of Thrones.

"I was mobbed by 100 people on my last day going, 'Jessica, Jessica', and the show hadn't even aired yet. It just proves how strong the fan base is for Game Of Thrones and it's a little crazy."

The season finale of Game Of Thrones Season 5 airs on HBO Asia (StarHub TV Channel 601) on Monday at 9am, with an encore telecast at 9pm on the same day.

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