The actor behind the House of Black and White's recent acolyte chats about her character's Faceless Man training, Arya's "psychotic side" and filming the finale's reveals. (Spoilers follow.)
HBO: How is Meryn Trant's murder different for Arya than her past kills?
Maisie Williams: She's had a lot more time to plan this one. And it's a lot more personal. The stable boy was just more of an accident. Murdering the man after the Red Wedding was fueled by the same anger, but it wasn't quite as personal. Meryn's death is a lot more thought out and close to home. Shooting that scene was a really intense day. It was just not a pleasant scene for anyone. Ian [Beattie, who plays Meryn Trant] was really struggling with all the prosthetics. He was a real trooper about it all, but it wasn't easy.
HBO: The finished scene is so intense and shockingly violent.
Maisie Williams: It shows a more psychotic side to Arya. The brutality and fierceness is quite a change in the Arya from earlier episodes this year.
HBO: Arya's been training to be No One, but tells Meryn, "I'm Arya Stark." How does she see her identity at this point?
Maisie Williams: She's having a pretty f**ked up identity crisis. It has been a relief for her to let go of this anger and pain – to become No One and leave it all behind. But she has a big change the moment where she sees the Baratheon guards.
HBO: Is it a difficult choice for her to abandon the Thin Man and pursue Meryn?
Maisie Williams: I think it was important to show how seriously she's taking this training to learn and better herself as a Faceless Man. When we see her drop all that in a heartbeat, it really takes her back to her anger that she saw in Seasons 3 and 4. I feel like it wasn't a difficult decision to make to ignore the Thin Man and continue on this new adventure.
HBO: Is she worried that Jaqen sees through her?
Maisie Williams: Arya totally thinks she got away with it, but at this point she's not really thinking about that. She sees red and is just focused on her mission.
HBO: How was the reveal where Arya finds her own face on Meryn's body filmed?
Maisie Williams: It was very, very complicated. It was madness, actually, when I think about what we did. I had a body double on set that day. You know the cloak that Jaqen was wearing? They made the hood of the cloak out of wire. It was rigid, so the fabric wouldn't move and fall about. Then each different person would lie into the rigid cloak, and they'd shoot my hand doing the motion of taking off the face. Then I got in, and my double did the hand motion over me. So I met, like, seven different people all for three seconds each. They cut it all together in post-production to made it look like they were taking off faces.
HBO: Arya was so impatient to be a Faceless Man. Did she know what she was getting into?
Maisie Williams: Definitely not. It's a reoccurring thing with Arya. When she was younger at Winterfell, all she ever wanted was to go out and fight. As soon as she lost her family, she realized that fighting for your life is not fun and it changes you as a person. It's the same thing now: All she's wanted is to become No One. She's slowly realizing there's so much more to everything in life than she's ever even imagined. She's totally out of her depth and lost. She's has never been in this position where she's out of control. Then she starts to lose her sight, and it's just complete terror.
HBO: That blindness looks authentic.
Maisie Williams: Yeah! We had these massive contacts, which were like 16-millimeters wide. They lifted up my eyelid and slid in this thing. It honestly felt like I had bottle caps in my eyelids. I couldn't see anything out of them, so it was quite real. It was really hard to open my eyes, and it was just perfect for what I had to do.
HBO: The Waif tells Arya that Jaqen wasn't her friend. Did Arya misconstrue their relationship?
Maisie Williams: Arya thinks she knows all of them because she recognizes faces, but deep down there's something going on. When the Waif says, "He was No One," I think what she means is: "If you think knowing him makes you safe, you've missed this whole process entirely. You don't know him because he's not who you think he is."
HBO: What was the experience like for you this season?
Maisie Williams: It was amazing. I remember being at the premiere with David [Benioff] and Dan [Weiss] and Sophie [Turner, who plays Sansa] and I was like, "Do I get to go to Croatia this year?" and they were like, "Yeah!" I was so, so happy because every year, Sophie's gone off to Croatia and had a banging time. I'd be like, "Yeah, it was really, really great in rainy Belfast. I had a whale of a time." Don't get me wrong, Belfast is amazing, but everyone needs a bit of sun every now and then. When Sophie learned that she couldn't go to the hot, sunny places and I could, I think she died a bit on the inside. I was totally thrilled.
HBO: What are you hoping is next for Arya in Season 6?
Maisie Williams: She should kill more people in the new season. But I don't know if they should be from her list. She should be given a second chance and take this training more seriously. I hope that her sight comes back, but if not, I think she should become a real badass assassin without sight. She'd be one of those people where you think they're the underdog and then all of a sudden they're an amazing killer.
HBO: In your wildest dreams, which character would you want to have a scene with?
Maisie Williams: Ygritte. Oh, she's dead. Bring her back!
HBO: If Arya could wear any face, whose would she wear?
Maisie Williams: A White Walker face.
HBO: What would be your ideal pet: a dragon, a direwolf or Ser Pouce?
Maisie Williams: A dragon. All this time I've been like, "No, direwolves are the best!" But after seeing that last episode ["The Dance of Dragons"], I was like, "Dragons are pretty cool." I'm still Team Stark, but dragons have got it going on.