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Game of Thrones’ Maisie Williams on Arya’s Rage, Turning 16, and Taylor Swift

Young Arya Stark has been out for Lannister blood for almost two seasons, and in last week’s episode of Game of Thrones, she got her first real sign that she’d succeed in her quest for vengeance. Said Melisandre: “I see a darkness in you. And in that darkness, eyes staring back at me. Brown eyes, blue eyes, green eyes … eyes you’ll shut forever.” Maisie Williams says the prediction will unnerve Arya, who lost the company of Gendry in the same moment, but also reinvigorate her. “She’s got a lot more to show to people,” Williams said. “She’s not flaking out.” The actress, who just turned 16, phoned Vulture earlier this week during a break from dance class to talk about how the youngest Stark daughter will fare alone in Westeros, Arya and Gendry shippers (she’s all for it!), and that one time she tried to make contact with Taylor Swift.

How does Melisandre’s prediction affect Arya?
I think in just meeting Melisandre, Arya realizes there’s more to this world than she first thought. There’s this whole other side to Westeros that she’d never come across before and doesn’t know much about, and I think it makes her feel unsafe and a little bit out of her comfort zone. She’s not really sure what the prediction means yet, so it frightens her a little bit. She’s been so angry and so focused that this unexpected thing Melisandre says to her throws her for a while.

What’s it like playing a character who is so mad?
You find yourself in every scene shouting at someone or being angry at something. You feel like a bit of a grump at times! Sometimes I think, Why can’t I just smile for once? But I really enjoy it. It’s very believable, how she feels. She’s not just a moody child.

Are you as outspoken as Arya?
I don’t feel like I’m quite as up front. Sometimes I wish I was more comfortable just saying what I thought and getting my point across. I wish I could stand up and say what I want to say, but I’m not quite like her … although people say I’m outspoken, too. [Laughs.]

What do you think about Arya and Gendry shippers? Could that happen?
In the second season, they wanted me to hint at it a little bit. I think she does kind of … I mean, I don’t know if she’s old enough to really know what it is she’s feeling, but she knows she really cares about this guy.

It was so heart-breaking when she was asking him to stay.
God, I’m gonna miss Joe Dempsie [who plays Gendry] because we’ve been with each other since season one and we got on really, really well. It’s going to be really different now!

Do you think it’s possible that they’d get together?
I think it’s possible, definitely! Everyone always sees Arya as a tomboy, but she’s never been in that situation before. She’s never had a crush. Now she realizes what’s Sansa’s talking about. [Laughs.] She’s just not really quite sure what it is.

What’s next for her now that she’s alone in the Brotherhood?
She’s definitely holding her own in the next couple of episodes. Just because she’s not got Gendry anymore doesn’t mean she’s crumbling or anything. She’s as strong as ever.

How did you feel about having to cut your hair last season? I had read that Gwendoline Christie, who plays Brienne, cried when she had to do it.
I was fine when I had it cut. I’ve had it short previously, like when I was 11, and I was never really very attached to my hair. I’ve been happy to dye it different colors and cut it off, but I’ve never been one to grow it long and keep it healthy. I just do whatever. But I know Gwen kind of struggled with it a little bit, so I was talking to her for a long time about it. We have a lot in common, really. We’re both women who want to be wearing dresses a bit more than armor. We do a lot of stunts, whereas a lot of other women on the show don’t. We both had to cut our hair off and wear loads of dirty makeup. I get on really well with her. I think she looks fantastic with the short hair and I think she feels fine about it now. I’m glad she did it. I guess at the time it is a bit of a shock getting all your hair cut off.

You turned 16 less than a month ago — belated happy birthday! How did you celebrate?
Well … I didn’t do anything yet. Actually, on my actual 16th birthday, on the actual day, I went home and I had chicken korma and Peshwari naan bread and pilau rice, and that was fantastic. [Laughs.] Then one weekend soon when I’m free, not sure which weekend yet, me and a few friends are going to go to Alton Towers and just have fun and chill out.

You were discovered during a dance recital. Are you still studying?
Yeah. I’m actually at my dance college at the moment and my lesson is going on in the room next door.

Oh no! Are you missing class?
No, it’s fine, it’s fine! It’s nice to do these things! I still study dance and it’s definitely something I want to incorporate in the future. It’s always been my first love. I just think something about being in front of a live audience when you’ve finished a big dance that you’ve been working on for so long — I don’t think anything can really beat that.

What kind of dance do you study?
I do ballet and pointe work. I also do tap, commercial jazz and technical jazz, freestyle street dancing … and we sing and act as well here. I like dancing for the music as well, like, when you’ve got a really good beat. I really enjoy that.

Did your flash mob video make the rounds on set?
It did. I did that in Bath with a dance school and that video came out and then I went to set and [series showrunners] Dave [Benioff] and Dan [Weiss] were like, “Oh my God, we have to include this somewhere,” and I was like, “Nope! No way!” They said, “Maybe we should put Arya in a big dance solo!” Right. Arya will be like, “Oh no, I’m alone.” Dance break!

Not long ago you tweeted a video you made of yourself lip-synching to “We Are Never Ever Ever Getting Back Together” to Taylor Swift. What’s the story behind that?
[Laughs.] Well, basically, me and Ed Sheeran are kind of Twitter friends — well, I say that. He probably just thinks I’m weird. I was in America a while ago and he said he was in New York playing and would I like to come and meet him and Taylor Swift in person and watch the show and go backstage and hang out. And I was so gutted because I was in Boston and I was flying home that night. I couldn’t go. So instead, I just thought I’d put that video up because … I don’t know, really! I don’t know what I was thinking! I made it a while ago and then it wasn’t until this whole thing came up where I could possibly meet her that I thought, Well, okay, I’ll just put it on Twitter! I kind of forget I’ve got a lot of followers and they all watched it. It’s a bit embarrassing. But I think her new album is really, really great and I liked her from the beginning. She’s kind of different and her hair is amazing. I’m a Taylor Swift fan, definitely.

I wish she had replied to it!
I know. I was so gutted! Like, fine then! God. [Laughs.] I put all that effort into it and then nothing. That was sad.

Maybe one day she’ll make up for it. Game of Thrones is a pretty big show.
Yeah! Hopefully!

Photo: Helen Sloan/HBO