HBO: What was your first response upon reading the scripts for Season 6?
Maisie Williams: This year I got all 10 episodes at once. They came in the night before our panel at Comic Con, and I deliberately didn’t look at them because it would've been so easy to be like, “The new season is insane!” But upon reading my storyline this year, I was really excited. Arya no longer has the upper hand. I’m so used to playing her when she knows what’s going down or she’s one step ahead, and this time it’s a lot more difficult.
HBO: What was it like working with Faye Marsay (the Waif) on the fight sequences?
Maisie Williams: Any stunts that Arya’s done previously have usually been on her own, so it was so nice to work through stunts with Faye. It’s healthy competition. I felt I had to prove myself because I’d done a lot of stunts before, so I wanted to look good. But then Faye had something to prove, because the Waif is supposed to look better than Arya. So any time one of us was slacking, there was a real want to improve and learn. It was great for us both to have each other to work off.
HBO: That competitive dynamic seems to be amplified on screen between your two characters.
Maisie Williams: When Arya returns to the House of Black and White, she’s not willing to give up at all, which is why it’s such an interesting relationship between her and the Waif. The Waif has never met anyone who is this determined. The friction between them as the scenes roll out was so fun to do.
HBO: Do you think Arya truly became “No One”?
Maisie Williams: In the early part of the season, Arya is dead set on her future as "No One." She does a really good job and surprises herself with how quickly she forgets her list of names. As we get into the later half of the season, it’s a bit more of a struggle when she does start to get that Arya – and the loyal Stark – quality back. We realize that she hasn’t totally lost that spark.
HBO: What was it like to finally “get your sight back” on set?
Maisie Williams: On a very personal, selfish level, the contacts were the most painful things, so I was thrilled when I got to shoot with my normal eyes. But I think for Arya, she wasn’t aware that she was ever going to get her sight back so she made sure that she was learning constantly. The way the Waif fights is not the way Syrio Forel taught Arya – that was a lot more honest.
HBO: What's Arya thinking when she's watching the performances?
Maisie Williams: Well, first of all, I think it’s incredible that we can make a play, inside the show, about the show. Throughout the whole shooting of that I was just like, "This is insane; people are going to watch a play of what they’ve already seen." For Arya, she's watching moments that she wasn’t there for – Joffrey’s death, which was very pleasant for her – and watching scenes that she was around for, like her father’s beheading. It’s very interesting for her to see how the story is a lot more skewed. She was so young and naïve when she watched her father get killed. She didn’t quite realize how snakey the story behind it was. She’s now watching and realizing that the whole world believes her father was stupid and that Cersei is a loving mother. So not only is she reliving one of the hardest moments of her life, she wants to stand up and say, "This is not how it went." It’s one of the moments that starts to bring the old Arya back to the surface.
HBO: Why does Arya decide not to go through with her mission to kill Lady Crane?
Maisie Williams: She sees how Bianca reacts to Lady Crane’s talent. Arya’s seen a lot of backstabbing and snakey-ness, and now it’s happening right in front of her, and she has the power to do something about it. Lady Crane is such a warm soul, which Arya hasn’t come across in a really long time. When Arya sees someone so selfish like Bianca, it’s something that really doesn’t sit well with her. I think that’s the moment when she thinks: I’m not going to do this. I’m going to take it upon myself to put things right.
HBO: Does Arya understand the risk she’s putting herself in by sparing Lady Crane?
Maisie Williams: I think Arya’s almost forgotten about the House of Black and White in that moment. She gets involved with people very easily. She gets so drawn into personalities. That’s just something that’s in her blood. You know, the Starks trust far too many people. Jaqen makes it very clear that, if she messes up, that's it. I think Arya never lets herself dwell on anything, so she doesn’t take it as seriously as she should.