The runaway success of hit HBO series "Game Of Thrones" has made stars of many of its cast members.
Many of them have used their downtime between seasons to parlay their burgeoning profile on the small screen to blockbuster success on the big screen. Richard “Robb Stark” Madden cut a dashing figure as the Prince in Kenneth Branagh’s successful live screen reimagining of "Cinderella." Emilia “Khaleesi” Clarke bursts on to our screens today in the reboot of the "Terminator" franchise. Kit “Jon Snow” Harrington went all sword and sandals in the disaster epic "Pompeii."
But for Maisie Williams, the tomboy princess turned assassin in training Arya Stark, last seen blinded and broken at the end of season five, chose a different path. Rather than sign up for a high-profile, big-budget project to enhance her career, she opted for the dark, dreamy "The Falling." Set in 1969 in a strict English all girls school, the indie drama tells the story of a mysterious fainting epidemic that takes hold after a tragedy occurs.
Much in the vein of Aussie classic "Picnic At Hanging Rock," which was used as an inspiration and touchstone by director Carol Morley, it also deals with burgeoning sexuality and repressed desire. The part of the troubled, rebellious Lydia was not only too good for Williams to refuse, it gave her a chance to show there was more to her than the feisty Arya.
“I have just always been intrigued by doing really interesting characters and whether or not that means it’s part of a studio film or an indie project, or a foreign movie, it’s all about great characters for me,” she says. “But because this is such a different audience to the one I perform to in 'Game Of Thrones' it was a bit scary, but I feel like indie films are something that really interests me and I am so thrilled to have been a part of something that was successful.”
Having just turned 18 in April, (she was 16 when she made the film) it also gave her the chance to tackle head-on the kind of parts she knew were going to be coming her way: "The Falling" also features her first sex scene — modest, but within the context of the story, disturbing.
“Being an actress and thinking of movies that you are going to do and characters you want to play and in terms of growing up on screen and taking on those more adult roles, you want to do it in a classy way and a way that’s really necessary,” she says.
“I read so many scripts with these big nude scenes that are just not necessary at all and don’t make any sense, as though someone has just written it for a bit of raciness. But I felt this was something I was very aware of that was going to be coming up soon — nudity or these sort of themes — and I wanted to do something that was really necessary and relevant.”
Given that she scored the role of Arya — her first professional acting gig — at the age of 12, Williams certainly hasn’t had a typical schooling experience. She left school at 14 and was privately tutored around the rigorous "Game Of Thrones" filming and promotional schedule. Now that her friends and peers have reached university age, she admits that part of her misses the bonds and experiences forged in those years.
“I just went to my friend’s university halls recently, like where he and all his mates live, and it was really cool,” she says. “Everyone has a tiny bedroom and a shared kitchen and compared to some of the hotels I stay in it’s not amazing but the experience of going to uni and being irresponsible that appeals. So sometimes I feel it would have been nice to have that experience and have those funny times at school because I never really had that.”