Arya has had a tough time on Game of Thrones, but things are finally starting to go her way — woe to those who cross her. Ever since seeing her dad executed in season one, she’s been on the run for two seasons, trying to get to one family member or another. First, in an attempt to get to the Wall to find her half-brother Jon Snow, Arya traveled north from King’s Landing with a troupe of boys and men “volunteering” for the Night’s Watch. And then, aided by the Hound, she tried to get to her brother Robb at a wedding in the Riverlands, only to arrive just after the Red Wedding slaughter began. Now the Hound — once a sworn enemy — is trying to deliver her safely to her aunt in the Vale, and if they kill a few blokes along the way, who’s going to know? In advance of the season-four premiere, Vulture caught up with Maisie Williams to discuss the applause Arya’s killing spree generated at the Lincoln Center premiere a few weeks ago, how her character will attempt to fill the hole in her heart, swords, and why she never wants to get married.
How did you like the response you received at the premiere?
It was crazy. And really embarrassing! I just lit up so much, I buried my head. I’m glad people liked it, because something is finally starting to go right for Arya. She’s finding what she’s good at. I feel like she’s finally finding something … that doesn’t hurt. It doesn’t feel good, either. It’s just like that line, “Nothing is better or worse. Nothing is just nothing.” And nothing is a really safe place to be, actually. And that’s kind of what she’s feeling at the moment. It’s a nice, stable point. But I’m basically weaving on in taking all the thunder after the Hound has just killed everyone. Taking the applause for it.
But even in this first episode, we see where she’s going. She’s being eaten from the inside out, and in the books, it talks about how she feels like she has a hole that’s never going to be filled ever again. She’s got a hole in her heart. She fills it with all these eyes that she’s going to shut forever, and she’s just turning black from the inside out. I feel bad for Polliver and people that Arya kills, because you don’t know their side of the story. If you’re working for the Mountain, you don’t say no. Do you know what I mean? And he didn’t know this kid. This kid was nothing. But in Arya’s eyes, it’s like, “You have no right.”
And yet, while Arya judges Polliver for killing her friend, she’s forgiven the Hound for killing her other friend, Micah.
She’s gotten to see more beyond the Hound’s exterior, where with Polliver, she has one exchange. If the scene had played out differently with the chickens, maybe. But then he turns around and degrades her: “You would already know that.” That just fuels her even more. Had he behaved differently, it might have changed her mind. But there are no second chances with Arya, I think. It’s like, “Hurt me once, shame on you. Hurt me twice, shame on me.” But actually, “Hurt me once, you die.” [Giggles]
If you had your own sword, what would you call it? Since Arya’s is Needle …
Mine would be called Oops. Because if I used it, it would be an oops. I don’t think I’d intentionally try to kill anyone. Most of the time, it would be a sarcastic oops. But every other time, it would be a, “Oops, I’m really sorry that you’re dead.” [Laughs] They won’t be able to hear me!
Even though Arya missed the Red Wedding, you got to have some of the Red Wedding cake.
It was from this English version of Cake Boss, but in my opinion, a much better quality. Cake Boss does massive, massive things which are great. And Choccywoccydoodah are more about quality than having a moving helicopter on a cake. And they made the cake for a screening we did for some blogger, and then I stabbed it and ate one of the swords from it. Everything on it was edible. And it looked like it had blood on it, but it was food coloring. It made you stand back and realize how much this show is creeping into everyone’s lives! Even a chocolate cake shop! Who would have thought? It’s just the scale of it, and how everyone’s getting hooked, like the raps they’ve recently done.
What do you think of the Arya rap?
The Arya rap is so in depth! It’s not just like a little skit, it’s like real in depth stuff about the character and the emotion. And you don’t get that in the little comedic memes for other shows. When has Madonna ever dressed up as a character? This show, people are crazy for it. It’s a marvel that we can bring all these people together by what used to be a very small genre, fantasy. And we’ve opened it up to more people. We don’t have as much fantasy as Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings, but we take the fantasy we do have and treat it in a very realistic manner, and make it believable, and before you know it, you’re staring at three dragons that are flying around that are going to lead someone into battle. And you’re investing all these energy into three dragons!
Has George R.R. Martin ever told you anything that isn’t in the books, or isn’t yet, that’s helped you portray Arya?
George is extremely tight-lipped. But he told me one thing that he’s currently writing or that he’s going to write, which I have never told anyone, whether they’re working on the show or not, because he never does that! He never tells anyone anything! It wasn’t anything to do with my character development. Um … I don’t know if Arya is going to die, but I like to think that she won’t. I like to think George has a soft spot for Arya, but then I’m like, “Why? Why do I think that?” It’s just because I’m so in love with this character. I just feel like it’s not possible for anyone to want to kill her, but he can do whatever he wants! [Giggles]
I’m looking at your fingernails, and you’ve got skulls on some of them, flowers on the others. Why?
Lots of people do things on this finger, which is your wedding ring finger, which doesn’t have any use. And I’m never going to get married. Right now, my view on marriage is that it’s extremely pointless. I see why other people get married, but for me, I’ll never get married, so I always do designs on my wedding ring fingers, because I’ll never wear a ring there. My parents separated when I was really, really young, and it’s just the complications of it all. My dad’s name is Williams, and my mom’s new married name is Frances, but she was a Pitt, which is her maiden name. Had I just been a Pitt the whole time, then that whole thing, changing names wouldn’t be necessary. In my opinion, nothing changes after you get married. If ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Maybe when I fall in love, I’ll change my mind, but right now? It just makes it harder to break up. You can’t just leave. I’d never want to be trapped. I never like to stay in one place too long. I always flit around, I never settle anywhere. So being married would be being trapped.
It’s interesting you have such strong opinions about changing names, when Arya has no problem with doing that …
Yeah! Changing her identity. I feel like I would rather be a Pitt, but unfortunately I am now Maisie Williams to the world, so I’ll keep that. But I’d much rather have the Pitt name. Like in Game of Thrones, Cersei takes the Lannister name wherever she goes, and I’d much rather take the Pitt name. Maybe next time I see you, I’ll be Maisie Pitt. Especially if I marry Brad Pitt! [Laughs] He was at the SAG Awards and I was just staring at him. It was so embarrassing!