Maisie Williams is best known for portraying Arya Stark, everyone’s favorite tomboy and assassin from Winterfell. Now that (SPOILER ALERT) Arya has killed the Night King and left Westeros, we have to wonder what led Williams to the role, and where she’ll go from here. Williams is attached to other projects and will probably be in Tinseltown for decades to come. Here are 42 faceless facts about Maisie Williams.
1. Quality Family Time
Maisie Williams was just 13 when the first season of Game of Thrones aired, complete with scenes of graphic nudity and gore, among other things. Williams’ mom let her take it all in, although Williams admits she covered her eyes at some parts since some scenes can be awkward to watch with mommy dearest. As for the gore, Williams had behind-the-scenes knowledge, so none of that fazed her.
2. Down and Dirty
Like Arya, Maisie Williams is also a tomboy. She loves the outdoors and recalls having a best friend during primary school. The duo’s antics—such as climbing trees—would often leave Williams’ clothes a “complete nightmare for washing,” but she regrets nothing.
Williams’ mom filled her in on Arya being left-handed in the books, and Williams did her best to stay true to her character. Prior to filming, she tried to get used to using her left hand when doing activities like gardening. However, camera angles sometimes dictated Williams had to use her right hand. Williams recalls some fans being upset with the change, but she tried her best.
4. Record Breaker
Maisie Williams hasn’t won an Emmy (yet). Meanwhile, she is the youngest actress to win a Portal Award. Williams won for best supporting actress in 2012.
5. Luck of the Irish
Maisie Williams and Sophie Turner, who plays Sansa Stark, are good friends in real life, and got matching tattoos back in 2016. The tattoos bear the date “07.08.09” and are located on the inside of their forearms. The date marks the day they found out they got their roles, and the two got the tattoos done in Belfast during a day off filming.
The two considered getting wolves, as a tribute to House Stark, but passed on that idea since they weren’t sure how long their characters would be sticking around.
Williams is well aware of Arya’s loss of innocence as Game of Thrones progresses. However, she believes Arya still offers a spot of black and white in a world of moral greys. While Arya is a serial killer in Williams’ eyes, Arya only kills people who deserve to die, so, “she’s the serial killer everyone’s rooting for.”
7. A Girl is Just Friends
During filming, Williams and Turner had a nightly ritual of heading to their hotel and cozying up in the same bed as they had dinner. Sometimes they would send “Philip on reception” to the shop so they could share Cadbury Buttons together. One (creepy) reporter remarked that the setup sounds like the start of a “softcore film.” Add his name to the list.
8. A Rose by Another Name
Williams’ real first name is Margaret. Maisie is a nickname she got from her family, due to her resemblance to Maisie from the British comic strip The Perishers.
9. South by South-Westeros
If acting doesn’t work out for her, Williams likely has a career as an entrepreneur. At the tender age of 22, she runs a startup company called Daisie. Williams co-founded the company in 2018 while filming Game of Thrones, and the company now has an office in East London with 17 staff. Daisie is an app that allows creators (musicians, artists, etc.) to showcase their work directly to executives in their industry. As of May 2019, the app has 100,000 members.
10. Rude Awakening
Williams recalls a phone interview she had when she was 13 years old, where a journalist asked if Arya was a feminist. Williams, sitting in her living room, asked her mom what the word meant. When she got an answer, Williams was more confused and said, “Isn’t that just the way that people think.” Williams ultimately bluffed her way through the answer, arguing that Arya is a strong female character.
11. Playing with the Big Kids
In case you were wondering, Williams’ favorite death on screen was that of Meryn Trant, the child-beating Knight of the Kingsguard. William’ reasoning is actually due to behind-the-scenes reasons. Since she turned 16 prior to making this scene, she could work adult hours instead of filming having to be cut short and picked up the next day.
Overtime meant the crew got pizza delivered. Williams recalls wearing a nightie, being covered in fake blood, eating pizza, and realizing that this was her career now.
12. Don’t be a Fool…
Williams never completed high school, since filming conflicted with her class and exam schedule. Her family was comfortable with the decision, since they realized the opportunity to star in a show as big as Game of Thrones might not come again.
13. Sibling Rivalry
Among the two best friends, Sophie Turner was the first to join the X-Men franchise, and she stars in Dark Phoenix. Meanwhile, Williams is set to star in New Mutants. Principal filming is finished but the film has been racked with delays. Reshoots are being done to add more horror elements.
14. Don’t Breathe
Another Williams project, The Owners, is set for release this year. The film is a home invasion film set in the 90s, where Williams, her boyfriend, and a friend plot to commit a burglary. The burglary goes wrong, and the house’s occupants turn the tables. Director Julius Berg remarked that he is proud to have Williams aboard, citing her experience and “profound humanity.”
15. Let’s Start Another Petition
There was a fan theory that Arya had passed on by the time season 8 rolled around. The theory suggests that Arya has been replaced by another faceless man, or woman. Williams describes the theory as “kind of crazy, even by our standards.”
Williams is passionate about climate change action, and views Greta Thunberg—the 16-year-old Nobel Prize nominee—as an example of how pop culture can dilute someone’s message. As Williams says, the point someone like Thunberg is trying to make can grow out of her control. In terms of her own fans, Williams believes anyone is supposed to be able to know how to deal with celebrity, citing Amy Winehouse’s quote that celebrity “would drive me insane.”
Williams cites Olivia Colman—best known for roles in Broadchurch, The Crown, and The Favourite—as her career idol. Williams hopes to have a “late surge” of roles and awards recognition. Aside from longevity, Williams also appreciates Colman for looking like a “real person” in terms of her attractiveness. Williams includes herself in the “real girl” group, acknowledging that all the airbrushed beauties on screen can make her feel bad about herself.
18. The Suspense is Killing Me
Back in 2014, Williams was in talks to play Ellie in an adaptation of the video game The Last of Us. Williams got to meet with producer Sam Raimi and game director Neil Druckmann. She initially said the outlook was hopeful but the movie appears to be on indefinite hold, mainly due to schedule constraints brought about by the making of The Last of Us 2.
Hopefully, we see Williams pairing with a gruff, older man (you listening, Hugh Jackman?) to fight zombies and survive in post-apocalyptic America.
19. Cake by the Ocean
One of Williams’ most coveted roles is that of a bridesmaid for Sophie Turner—a role she got to fulfill in 2019 when Turner married Joe Jonas.
Turner and Williams were both well aware of rumors that they were a couple. They played into the rumors, going as far as trying to kiss each other during some scenes. The directors were used to worse, so the kisses didn’t faze them much.
It’s an understatement to say plenty of people weren’t happy with how Game of Thrones ended. Williams didn’t hesitate to reveal her own ideal version of Arya’s ending, where Jaime is revealed to be Arya in disguise and kills Cersei in the Red Keep. Maisie still defends the writing though, remarking that many other scripts are “trash” in comparison.
22. New Chapter
While Maisie Williams still stays in touch with many of her GoT castmates, she remarks that it is not the same as when they all worked together. She described the atmosphere at their last press junket as a somber one that reminded her more of a funeral.
23. Emotional Roller-Coaster
Williams can recall a time where she was experiencing panic attacks every day. This was two years ago, and was a result of all the attention and criticism she received on social media due to her fame. As a result, Williams no longer reads online comments. She still struggles with confidence but remarks that she has been able to improve her mental state by shifting the focus from “Why do I hate myself?” to “Why do you make yourself feel this way?”
24. Girls Like Nice Guys
The GoT characters that Williams identifies with most are Samwell Tarly and Jon Snow. Tarly is a shy, humble character who grows throughout the show, demonstrating his value and improving his confidence. Meanwhile, Jon Snow is a character who has people pushing him to be a great leader, just like Williams’ peers tell her she is destined to be a great actor. Like Snow, Williams is taking things day by day to figure herself out.
Coraline is Williams’ favorite film, and the doll-making scene at the beginning gave her the idea to pursue doll-making. The idea was cemented when she saw a doll on Instagram’s Explore page. Williams’ creations (if she goes through with it) will have “super strange proportions,” like old retro-kitsch Blythe dolls. Williams also wants the dolls to have skin suits.
26. Baby of the Family
Maisie has two older brothers, James and Ted, and an older sister, Beth. Maisie is the only actress in the family, but the siblings get the limelight sometimes, like the time in 2015 when Williams posted an Instagram video of her dancing with James. She shows off some acrobatic movies, like balancing herself on her James’s shoulders.
27. No Rush
With a lot of time ahead of her, Maisie Williams is being picky about the roles she chooses. While she loves acting, she doesn’t want to waste any time doing roles she isn’t invested in. Williams also wants to maintain a schedule that allows her to have a steady routine and see her friends (relatively) often.
28. U Got It Bad
Williams’ first creative outlet was dancing, inspired by her desire to dance like Usher. Williams learned various styles, ranging from hip-hop to ballet. She attended Bath Dance College until she was about 16, when the filming schedule for Game of Thrones forced her to make a decision about her future. Looks like she made the right one.
In addition to the startup Daisie, Williams and her flatmate (Bill Milner) are also creating a campaign called London Creates. The campaign was created out of her and Milner’s desire to make a short film. The campaign will use Daisie to find talent for the short film, for everything from music to the script. Going forward, London Creates will take other established creators and use Daisie to pair them with burgeoning creatives.
Williams used to love partying but has quit binge drinking and no longer enjoys long nights out. She’s said she wanted to climb Scafell Pike, the U.K.’s highest peak, for her 22nd birthday. Williams views accomplishments like that—the ones “anyone can do”—as the meaning of life, and aims to get a real feeling of achievement for all of her future birthdays.
Arya is 18 in season 8, four years behind Williams. This caused more issues while Williams was going through puberty. She initially had to wear a strap across her chest in order for her chest to look flatter while Arya was pretending to be a boy. Once Williams complained about the strap being too uncomfortable, she was upgraded to a fake belly, which made her chest look smaller. Season 6 marked the first time Williams got to wear a bra.
32. Haters All Around
Williams had her own qualms with Arya being the one to vanquish The Night King, remarking that it comes across as almost anticlimactic since The Night King has been built up as a big baddy and then gets taken down by “some 100-pound girl.” Most fans will probably think she’s selling Arya short. Williams also revealed that her boyfriend thinks Jon Snow should have been the one to get rid of The Night King.
33. Secret Santa
Speaking of a boyfriend, Williams has never stated who the lucky guy is. She was dating Ollie Jackson, co-founder of 100 Tons of Plastic, a conservation group. The two haven’t appeared in pictures together since mid-2018, which prompted rumors of a breakup. Since then, Williams has been in more personal pics with Reuben Selby, Daisie’s communications director. Either way, it’s Williams’ business.
34. Step Up
The GoT episode “The Long Night” used new choreography for Arya, borrowing heavily from Eskrima. Eskrima’s influences are most evident when Arya’s spear is broken and she resorts to using it as a two-handed weapon, similar to Eskrima’s Kali sticks. Eskrima also influences the use of improvised weaponry and fighting in tight spaces, such as a stairwell in Winterfell.
The choreographer believes Williams’ dance background allowed her to learn her choreography quicker, since the fluid Eskrima style is similar to dance choreography.
35. A Girl Belongs to No One
Williams starred in Doctor Who as Ashildr back in 2015. She wasn’t able to make an audition tape due to a hectic filming schedule, but her agent convinced the execs to give her the part based on clips and videos from Game of Thrones. Williams enjoyed playing the part since it was refreshing to play someone who wasn’t just the male lead’s girlfriend. Until she began reading scripts for parts, Williams didn’t realize how many female leads fit that bill.
One of Williams’ main conservation efforts if her work as an ambassador The Dolphin Project. Williams’ efforts have included working on their #DontGoToSeaWorldCampaign and traveling to Japan to protest the treatment of dolphins in Taiji, Japan. Williams has also helped to design limited-edition shirts for the group, where the proceeds support its initiatives. She has also skydived from 15,000 feet to raise awareness about the group.
37. Parental Controls
Maisie Williams wasn’t a big reader when she was younger, and that is one reason she has yet to read A Song of Ice and Fire. Additionally, her mom screened the books and didn’t view them as appropriate for her (then) 13- year-old daughter.
38. Don’t Put a Ring On It
Williams’ experience with her parents separating has led her to view being married as “being trapped.” Her mother’s maiden name is Pitt, and Williams joked she might marry Brad Pitt as an exception to her rule. She already admitted that she was taking in his beauty at the SAG Awards.
Maisie Williams sometimes refers to herself in the third person in interviews, not because she is arrogant, but because she is used to fans misinterpreting her own tweets as something related to Arya instead. Williams doesn’t offer examples but mentions that people often think knowledge Williams shares about Game of Thrones is something Arya would have known.
40. Eye Spy
Despite her tomboyish character, Maisie Williams adores actress and fashion icon Audrey Hepburn. Williams is probably the only person who has a set of photos that compare her eyebrows to that of Hepburn’s.
41. Fake News
Williams got to meet the Queen during a Royal set visit in Belfast. Some sources claimed that the Queen is a Game of Thrones fan, but Williams doubts that, since the Queen didn’t know which character she played.
42. Are You Not Entertained?
While may fans bask in Arya’s toughness, Williams actually finds it disturbing that many of them ignore the scarred child beneath the assassin, asking “Why is everyone amused?” While fans might love Arya’s feats, Williams realizes that the feats are the characteristic of someone who is emotionally damaged by her life.
43. Blinded by the Light
Although Williams would ideally want a long career, she also acknowledges that she is wary of going out of her way to attract more media attention. When she was a minor, the Game of Thrones producers did their best to insulate her, but her agent is now more insistent on trying to “raise her profile.” Williams has been reluctant to go along with these efforts, acknowledging she’ll be happy if Game of Thrones is the biggest thing she does.
44. Are the Fans Listening?
Plenty of GoT fans were thrown off by Arya’s hookup scene with Gendry in season 8. Williams though the scene was a prank initially (producers have sent out prank scripts previously), after Sophie Turner brought it to her attention. However, Williams says she did not feel pressured into nudity, and had control over how much she wanted to show.
Meanwhile, Joe Dempsie (Gendry) realized that also he’s known Williams since she was a child (like the fans), Williams is now a grown woman and gets to decide what she shows.