Maisie Williams

Maisie Williams is best known for her role as Arya Stark in the acclaimed HBO TV series “Game Of Thrones”, and has earned two Portal Awards in 2012 for Best Supporting Actress and Best Young Actor in TV. She became the youngest actor to achieve this honor and was also named Best British Actor at the Radio 1 Teen Awards in 2013. Maisie has appeared in the films “Heatstroke” and “Gold” and was cast as a lead in Carol Morley’s “The Falling”. This year, she is one of the ten European Shooting Stars at the Berlinale and Tara Karajica talks to her about “Game of Thrones”, her career, being a Shooting Star, her inspiration and cyberbullying.

 

You started out dancing and it helped you a lot with your character in Game of Thrones when she is learning to fence in the first episodes of season 1, is that right?

Maisie Williams: Yeah! My dancing background definitely helped with the stamina of shooting fight scenes. They are long, long days and you have to keep going, keep going and keep going, and another take and another take and another angle… It was difficult but my previous training helped with that and also learning the choreography, learning the stunts sequence was something I was familiar with in dancing. I was very grateful for my previous experience when it came to the long days.

Have you ever thought of acting before or was Game of Thrones an opportunity that came along and changed your life and career plans? Is it what you wanted?

M.W.: That’s exactly it! It was never a conscious decision to start acting. Game of Thrones just opened that door for me and I took all the opportunities that it brought up and now I am so glad that that door was opened and acting is something that I am very, very passionate about and will do for a long time, I hope. It’s more that Game of Thrones pushed me into this world and now, I’m loving it!

You were 12 when you started working on Game of Thrones. What lessons have you learned growing up with Game of Thrones?

M.W.: Hmm… I think just really great life lessons! And that there’s more in life than just getting good marks, good grades and just staying top of the class and things like that. There are so many life skills that you learn when you’re working in the adult world, not just on a film set… But, you know, people skills and being able to interact with people and do interviews and things like that. Something that is never really taught to you; you just have to pick up and learn and it’s given me the opportunity for that.

Are you as fearless as Arya Stark?

M.W.: I pretend I am! I pretend I don’t care about anything but I don’t think I’m quite as good at that as Arya is!

Aren’t you afraid that, because you started acting at such a young age, people will only know you as Arya Stark and that it will be difficult to shake that character off once the series is over, like it happened, for instance to Daniel Radcliffe after the Harry Potter films?

M.W.: Definitely! Which is why I try to do so many other projects at the same time. With The FallingGold, the projects that I am here for the Shooting Stars with, they definitely help to show you in a different light and that’s what I am going to continue to do as the series continues to go and as the series comes to an end and just keep carrying and keep doing these things. I mean Arya is a fantastic character so it’s not really the end of the world if I am going to be her forever but in terms of doing new projects it’s important for me to show myself in a different way.

Do you think the Shooting Stars will help you with that? To what extent?

M.W.: It’s given me the opportunity to meet and speak to casting directors and show them YOU and show them that this is kind of the best that I am and that you can build on that and create new characters. So often people have seen your work but because they see you in a certain character they don’t realize that you can do other things and you can play other characters so Shooting Stars has given us all the opportunity to show ourselves and meet great, great people and make an impression.

You have a growing fan base and everyone wants a piece of you. How scary is that? How much are you actually enjoying it?

M.W.: Well, I mean, I try and stay positive about everything because I’ve been given an amazing opportunity in life and I am going to take it with both hands and run with it but sometimes it is, you know, very strange and hard at times and overwhelming as well. But, it’s kind of what comes with doing this job and I just take it sort of piece by piece a month at a time, you know, and not get overwhelmed by anything else and try and just stay on track.

Audrey Hepburn is your inspiration, especially for her charity. Who and what else inspires you?

M.W.: The main thing that inspires me in this industry are people who are not affected by this industry because it is such a crazy one and it’s so easy to be sucked into this crazy, crazy world. So, I think just actors and actresses that are very normal and come across very naturally because I want to be that person but also it’s not easy which is why so many people are affected. So, I think Jessica Chastain is my most recent obsession because she is just so normal and so different to the characters that she plays and it really opened my eyes to the fact that these people are extremely talented in convincing you that they are someone else.

You have starred in the BBC TV movie Cyberbully that aired recently. And, if I understand correctly, you have experienced it yourself? How have you fought it? Are you still fighting it? Is this a cause you particularly feel close to and feel the need to participate in?

M.W.: Well, a huge percentage of teens do undergo cyberbullying and also have been the cyberbully and I think it was just something that I wanted to touch on. The things that you say on the internet are real; just because it’s written down and just because it’s on a computer it doesn’t make the words less painful and less hurtful and it was just something that I wanted other people to know about, people who are unaware of the things that they are saying are hurting and upsetting people and creating something that they would never even think of before. They never thought that these words can push someone to suicide, can push someone to these extremes but they do and the words you say online are real and it does hurt so, yeah, just to make people aware of that, I think, in a drama, in a way in which people are captivated by rather than just telling people and to actually show people that story and to captivate people by that.

What are your next projects?

M.W.: Devil in the Deep Blue Sea… I am going to New Orleans to do a movie there and another indie project, which I am really looking forward to.

 

This interview was conducted at the 2015 Berlin International Film Festival. 

Tara Karajica

Tara Karajica is a Belgrade-based film critic and journalist. Her writings have appeared in "Indiewire," "Screen International," "Variety," "Little White Lies" and "Film New Europe," among many other media outlets, including the European Film Academy’s online magazine, "Close-up" and Eurimages. She is a member of the European Film Academy, the Online Film Critics Society and the Alliance of Women Film Journalists as well as the recipient of the 2014 Best Critic Award at the Altcine Action! Film Festival. In September 2016, she founded "Yellow Bread," a magazine dedicated entirely to short films, ranked among the 25 Top Short Film Blogs and Websites on the Planet in 2017. In February 2018, she launched "Fade to Her," a magazine about successful women working in Film and TV and in 2019, she was a member of the Jury of the European Shooting Stars (European Film Promotion). She is currently a programmer for live action shorts at PÖFF Shorts, Head of the Short Film Program and Live Action Shorts programmer at SEEFest and Narrative Features Programmer at the Durban International Film Festival. Tara is a regular at film festivals as a film critic, moderator and/or jury member.

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