The actress behind Arya Stark remembers her brief moment of happiness, her front-row seat to the season's biggest brawl and how she applied her lessons from the Hound.
HBO: Arya spends the whole season with the Hound. What has he become to her?
Maisie Williams: They're not necessarily friends but I think she does look up to him. Not quite in the way she looked up to Yoren; they'll never be that close. The Hound has so many walls up and so does she, but they are looking out for each other. They both have qualities that the other needs to survive. I feel like Arya was a popular character because of the decisions she made, and this year, the audience really started to see a nicer side to the Hound too.
HBO: Is the Hound like the father she needs to have in the world they live in now?
Maisie Williams: Arya's angry that she didn't know more about this world until it was too late and is now desperately trying to be one step ahead of the game. The Hound's been very helpful for that. I think Arya and Sansa go through the same situation this year, despite being in completely different worlds. Sansa has been around really powerful people and they all bat her off like she's nothing. And all of the sudden, she turns around and uses their skills against them. It's the same with the Hound. He's bringing Arya up to be a great killer, and all of a sudden, she has the power to be that.
HBO: Speaking of great killers, what did it mean to Arya to meet someone like Brienne?
Maisie Williams: There's actually a direction in the script in between their interaction about how they named their swords and learning how to fight. It says: "Arya smiles. She likes this weirdo. Brienne smiles. She likes this weirdo." I remember reading it and thinking, "That is it. It's perfect." It's the most happy Arya has been in forever. She realizes you can be female and fight, and be strong and be a leader. It gives her a whole new inspiration…and then it all turns sour.
HBO: Is there something Brienne could have said or done to make Arya trust her?
Maisie Williams: Not mention Jaime Lannister. In Brienne's defense, she didn’t say anything wrong. It's that thing where the audience knows so much more than the characters do, but mentioning Jaime Lannister is when it takes a spin on its head. Brienne was telling the truth but Arya's guard goes straight back up and her hand is back on her sword. It's a shame because I think they could have been great together.
HBO: What do you think Arya was feeling watching Brienne and the Hound fight?
Maisie Williams: In all of the previous fights, Arya has never been nervous about the outcome. The Hound took on four or five guys at the inn. She wants to have confidence in him, but she's realizing it's not as easy as it's been before. It's first time she's seen him struggle so throughout the fight, she's thinking about what she's going to do next if it does go wrong.
HBO: And what was it like to watch the scene filmed?
Maisie Williams: It's so brutal to watch. They're fighting with everything they have; loyalty and honor go completely out the window. They're literally fighting with their bare fists. The Mountain and the Viper fight was fantastic, but this is something else, seeing two 6-foot-something humans just purely going at each other. And I got a front row seat.
HBO: Was there any temptation on Arya's part to put the Hound out of his misery?
Maisie Williams: She almost would have – until he asked. It's like when you have an argument with someone and they go, "I'd like you to apologize." You immediately don't want to because you feel talked down to. They never saw this day coming. If anyone, it would have been Arya on the floor. She's kicking it over in her head and not quite sure what decision she's going to make until he says, "OK, you know where the heart is. Go on, girl." And that's when that sick, twisted girl we saw in Episode 1 of this season comes back again. With every cry and plea from the Hound, it almost gives her more strength to hurt him more, emotionally. He's taught her so much and she uses it against him.
HBO: So last we see, Arya is headed to Braavos. What's going through her mind?
Maisie Williams: That scene was shot at a car park in front of a green screen. It's not quite like being on a legit ship in the middle of the ocean, so to really get into that, you summarize the whole season in your head, from Day 1, getting Needle back. It's a really twisted a version of growing up and leaving home – which Arya is, but she's only 12. She looks back at her past home and a little part of her is wondering, "Should I stay?" And she turns and looks at the front of the ship, and her decision is made.
HBO: Do you think Arya knows what her next move will be?
Maisie Williams: Not at all, but she knows it's going to have nothing to do with anything she's done before. She's ready to forget her old life, somewhere where's she's not known, without anyone to remind her of what she's come from and what's she's lost. She's ready to start again.
HBO: What happened to Hot Pie's wolf bread?
Maisie Williams: Pod ate it.
HBO: If you were on trial, who would you want as your champion?
Maisie Williams: The Hound.
HBO: What would you be on trial for?
Maisie Williams: Killing Cersei.
HBO: You’re invited to a GOT wedding. Would you go?
Maisie Williams: Yes, but I'd take a sword and poison, just in case.
HBO: What would you name your sword?
Maisie Williams: Oops.