The wildlings weren’t the only ones descending upon Castle Black on Sunday night – Gilly arrived to reunite with Sam. Hannah Murray, the actress behind Gilly, discusses her character’s connection to Sam, Gilly’s unflappable optimism and a behind-the-scenes conversation about kissing.
HBO: What was your reaction when you first read the scene where Sam and Gilly kiss?
Hannah Murray: I thought, "They're really letting Sam be the hero." I love the way that's been building up from the point when he kills the White Walker. I also really enjoy the comedy of Sam and Gilly. I love how right before he kisses her for the first time, she's telling him that he's rubbish.
HBO: Is Gilly in love with Sam?
Hannah Murray: She can tell that the kiss is an expression of love from him. She knows that he loves her and she definitely loves him, but she's not someone who can process her emotions very well or has a sophisticated language for them. I’ve thought for a long time that they are like this little, unconventional family. He loves the baby as much as she does. John [Bradley] has said, "Sam couldn't love it any more if it was his own."
HBO: What was it like filming Gilly and Sam's first kiss?
Hannah Murray: John was like, "You're not giving me very much back." And I told him it's wasn't a personal thing, it was a character choice. I felt that Gilly has never been kissed before, and she probably doesn't even really know what kissing is.
HBO: So do you think she was waiting for the kiss?
Hannah Murray: From my point of view, it catches her completely off-guard. I think for her it's: "I didn't even know this was an option." She's someone who has suffered systematic abuse from such an early age. I don't think she's ever had romantic dreams because that was never something that was even possible. When you're a kid, you know you want a relationship because of the people you see around you, or from what you see movies or read books. She doesn't have any of that. I see her as 100 percent innocent. It’s very beautiful that she's able to maintain that kind of purity despite being this girl that's had her dad's baby.
HBO: What connects Gilly and Sam?
Hannah Murray: A big thing that connects them is having horrible fathers. We haven't seen Sam's father, but we know about that in a different way from Gilly, Sam was abused as well. In Season 2 when John and I were filming the thimble scene [where Sam gives Gilly his mother’s thimble], [director] Alik Sakharov said this beautiful thing to us: "You're like two birds with broken wings, and when they come together there's the possibility for the first time that they can fly."
They’re two people who have come from horrible places, but because they both have this brokenness, they're able to give each other what they're missing.
HBO: How does Gilly maintain her optimism?
Hannah Murray: I think you have to attribute it to character, in the old-fashioned sense. She's just a really good person. So many other people would just be dead or in a ball on the floor. In modern life, we're protected from so much, and yet we still complain about a lot of things. She would never. It's a wonderful attitude to have to the world.
HBO: How was Gilly affected by the attack on Molestown?
Hannah Murray: It's a different kind of trauma and pain from her upbringing. As much as she hated Craster's and wanted to escape, that was the only thing she knew. When Gilly arrives at Castle Black, she's so happy doing something that a lot of other ambitious characters would hate. If Cersei or Daenerys were doing the dishes, they'd be miserable. But for Gilly, it's like, “I'm safe. My baby's safe. I've got this guy who's really nice to me; he's like my best friend.”
For that reason, having to go to Molestown and witnessing this really violent attack is more traumatic than what she’s faced before. As much as you can say this character's been constantly abused – and she has been – the violence of Molestown is something darker for her. But then, there's this beautiful thing in the middle of it with Ygritte.
HBO: Why do you think Ygritte left Gilly and the baby alone?
Hannah Murray: It feels like this beautiful female solidarity. Ygritte's story ends in Episode 9 and she'll never be a mother, but that doesn't mean she never wanted to be. That moment cuts through all the politics in the show and establishes a higher morality.