Arya Stark is a bad ass. On the television drama Game of Thrones, more about she stands up for what she wants, faces physical threats head on, and isn’t afraid to rebel.
In other words, she isn’t that different from Maisie Williams, the actress who portrays her on the show.
Of course, Maisie isn’t as angry or vengeful as her television counterpart but in a recent interview, the teenage actress talked to me about playing rebellious characters, why she wants to be different and the most badass thing she’s ever done.
In her new drama Heatstroke, now on VOD and in select theaters, Williams continues her streak of playing tough characters. In this feature, she portrays Josie, the belligerent teenage daughter of hyena researcher Paul (Stephen Dorff). After getting caught with drugs, Josie is sent on an African safari and research expedition with her father and his ever-patient girlfriend Tally (Svetlana Metkina). After a brutal accident though, Josie and Tally are forced to work together when they come face to face with both hungry hyenas and hunters, who want to keep the duo from reporting their illegal activities to authorities.
The filming for the movie occurred in Africa, where the small cast shot the production alongside real-life hyenas, who are featured in the movie. The confident Williams, who was more amazed than frightened by the dangerous creatures, wasn’t too worried despite how close they came. “They were right in front of me,” she said. “One of them nibbled my shoelace and were breathing on me and were pulling my backpack around.”
While other actresses might’ve been frightened of filming near hyenas, Williams shrugged it off. “They’re the ones that are probably gonna be more scared. They need what they need to do so you have to be respectful of that. They are wild animals.”
It’s not only on set where Williams has proven to be different than other young actresses. She’s proven it in her acting choices as well. She noted that that likes playing characters who are “a little bit different and not the romantic lead,” characters she says “have more interesting storylines.” When asked whose career she wanted to emulate, she responded, “I aspire to be my own person and I aspire to have a different career and have the career that other people look up to, I guess. As much as things do influence me, I’d love to break out of that and be the one who does something completely different.”
Her first television role as Arya Stark, the tough-minded daughter of Ned Stark on Game of Thrones, is definitely a unique character who has built a great fan following. Williams noted that one of the things that stands out about the character is her honesty. “She’s one of the only characters that are fighting for the right reasons,” Williams said. She compared Arya to an employee whose boss is being cruel to them. “Arya would stand up and say something. I think everyone wants to do that and they find comfort in Arya because she actually does.”
So far in her career, Arya has become known for characters who are badasses and willing to get into trouble for doing what they believe is right. With that in mind, Williams told me about “the most badass thing” she’s ever done…
“I was at school and I didn’t do– I did do my homework–my math teacher came around and… was taking everyone’s homework in and I’d already dropped it on his office at the beginning of the lesson– like on his desk at the beginning of the lesson. I said ‘I’ve already done it and given it to you’ and he said ‘no, you haven’t’. And I said ‘yeah I have. I left it on your desk’ and I went over and it wasn’t there… I was like ‘I’ve already done it. I’m not doing it again.’ And he goes ‘you have to do it tomorrow. Otherwise, you’re gonna get detention…’
Being as stubborn as I am, I didn’t do it again and I went in the next day and he said, ‘where’s your homework’ and I said ‘I’ve already done it. It’s not my fault that you’ve lost it. I put it on your desk’ and he said ‘okay, if you don’t come to your detention–he gave me a double detention where you have to stay for like 2-3 hours rather than just like the one– he said ‘if you don’t come to your double detention tonight, you’re gonna have isolation on Monday’ cause it was a Friday. Isolation is when you have to stay in one room all day for the whole school and do all your work there.
It turns out that actually I was leaving school on the Friday because acting got so much that I was gonna be home-schooled so Friday was my last day and he didn’t know about it. I didn’t really tell anyone. I wanted to just kind of leave… Obviously, I didn’t go to the detention on the Friday and he expected me to be in isolation on Monday and I never came back to school. It was like my last thing I ever did at school but it was like the most naughty.”
Heatstroke is now on demand and in select theaters.