Game of Thrones’ Sophie Turner on Why This Is Sansa Stark’s Year

Photo: HBO

Spoilers ahead for the Game of Thrones premiere.

After all the terrible things that have happened to Sansa — abuse at the hands of Joffrey's minions, an attempted gang rape by a King's Landing mob, an arranged marriage to Tyrion, a murder attempt by her own aunt, an arranged marriage to Ramsay that resulted in even worse abuse — she's finally getting her life back, thanks to Brienne's intervention in the season-six premiere of Game of Thrones. And it's not a moment too soon, according to Sophie Turner. "I was just like, 'Finally! Justice!'" she told Vulture.

Turner said that shooting Sansa's escape from Winterfell wasn't nearly as hard (or as cold) as it looks — "it was in the middle of July" — but she didn't know how emotional it would be onscreen. "It worked out even better than I had pictured it in my head," she said. "We didn't set it up as emotional, but now that I watch it, it just feels right, you know? Things are starting to look up."

People have tried to help Sansa before, but they’ve usually had their own agenda, Turner noted. The Lannisters were using her to secure the North; the Tyrells wanted a piece of the action, and weren't offering a betrothal to Loras and an escape to Highgarden out of the kindness of their hearts; Littlefinger had a perverse interest in her, acting as a father figure, kissing her, and then abandoning her with the Boltons. Even a guilty Theon, who helped aid Sansa's escape from Winterfell, is problematic. "For now, they're forgetting everything he's done, his betrayal with Robb, because they're just trying to survive," Turner said. "That relationship definitely develops a lot. It's ever-changing, as they try to figure out where they are with each other at the moment."

Only Brienne of Tarth — because of her vow to Catelyn Stark — had a pure motive in helping Sansa, and the moment Brienne saves her and they swear oaths to each other is triumphant and cheer-worthy. "This is a big thing," Turner said. "This is the first person Sansa has had on her side since Tyrion. This woman tried to protect her, she rejected her, and yet she continued to reach out to her! There are only so many people who really push and push and push to show Sansa how much they are rooting for her, how much they want to protect her, how much they want her to succeed. It takes a lot for someone to do that."

Turner feels the vow signifies that the eldest Stark daughter is now "stronger." With a fighter like Brienne as her sworn shield, she's starting to build a group of allies, and that kind of power can allow her to "get what she wants, go where she wants, and do what she wants." Should Sansa head for Castle Black, Turner anticipates an "interesting encounter" with another redhead, Melisandre. ("They'd be quite the duo!" she said.) And should Sansa find out about Jon Snow's murder, it might put her into revenge mode. "That's where her head's at right now," Turner said. "Jon's death would affect her, less in an emotional way, but more like, 'Okay, I want justice for this, too.'"

Inspired by Arya's kill list, Turner suggests that Sansa's ready for her own. Who would be on it? To start, the Lannisters and Ramsay Bolton ("although I don't know in which order!" she said, laughing); then Littlefinger, "for putting her in that situation." Still, Littlefinger remains Sansa's role model in a lot of ways. "He's a master manipulator, who knows exactly how to get what he wants," Turner said. "Those are skills everybody needs in this world." But Sansa's also learned at the feet of Cersei Lannister, "who tried to scare her, to shock her," but in so doing, gave her so much advice. ("A woman's best weapon is between her legs," Turner agreed). She’s also been a careful observer of Margaery Tyrell's methods, "how she works it with a facade of being totally innocent, totally sweet." Politically, Sansa's learned from the best, so now it's just a question of what she'll do as she gains more power. Gathering an army could be a good next step, and possibly getting those two marriages annulled. Sansa, Queen in the North?