Maisie Williams returns as Arya Stark in the final season of Game of Thrones.
Maisie Williams returns as Arya Stark in the final season of Game of Thrones. HELEN SLOAN / HBO

No more secrets: Maisie on life after Thrones

ARYA Stark is no more. And to celebrate, Maisie Williams has dyed her hair pink and now purple.

After playing one of Game of Thrones' favourite characters since she was 12, the British actor says she can finally be herself.

"It is the first time I have not been in a contract for 10 years, so it has been quite nice to just be 21 - you can go on holiday, dye your hair pink, there are so many things I want to do in my life," she says.

"People always said, you are going to finish this, you will be 21 and have all that opportunity, and I think it has taken a long time for that to sink in. It is very exciting and I feel confident that (I will do) wonderful things in the future. But it is also nice to take time and figure out what that will be."

Maisie Williams attends HBO's Game of Thrones final season premiere at Radio City Music Hall in New York.
Maisie Williams attends HBO's Game of Thrones final season premiere at Radio City Music Hall in New York. Evan Agostini/AP

Arya will always be a part of Williams, who says she heavily influenced her growing up.

"I don't know how I would be without the show, it's all I have known but ... I do have a real danger in me, well I did for a lot of my teenage years," she says. "My way of handling the fame and press, I took everything very seriously and was hurt by a lot of things and felt all of these emotions quite intensely and I think Arya is like that.

"Things affect her really deeply to the point of making it her mission to have a list of people she wants to kill. I'm like that," she jokes.

Speaking in a hotel in London, Williams, who grew up in Somerset in the UK with two brothers and a sister, is frank and funny, rattling off answers at high speed and making jokes. She's just as you'd imagine Arya would be if she teleported through the centuries.

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me telling a story and not even being dramatic

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Arya has become one of the most popular girl's names and Williams says she pities all the girls that are named after her character.

"There's going to be all these 13-year-old girls going, 'Why am I named after an assassin, it doesn't make any sense?'" she says.

So how was it growing up with a character that takes a decidedly dark turn?

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"They don't write heroes; they write real people who have flaws and I think that it is really important," she says.

"I think it made sense that (she and Sansa) wouldn't get on wonderfully having come back. So as much as that sucked and I didn't like the fact that people didn't like Arya, I think that it is so important that the characters are honest and real."

Williams, who is rumoured to be dating communications director Reuben Selby, is active on social media. 

With two million followers on Twitter and eight million on Instagram, she had to cope with a furious backlash when Arya turned on Sansa.

Sophie Turner and Maisie Williams as sisters Sansa and Arya in Game of Thrones.
Sophie Turner and Maisie Williams as sisters Sansa and Arya in Game of Thrones. HELEN SLOAN / HBO

"The fans have always been so devoted and although that comes with a lot of pressure and a lot of backlash I think the fact that the show creates conversations is really exciting," she says. "I wouldn't ever want to trade it in."

She admits it was hard to navigate fame so young and values the friendship she has with co-star Sophie Turner, who plays Sansa. 

"This industry is a bit of a minefield in trying to say the right thing and then accidentally saying the wrong thing and trying to navigate that is really difficult," she says.

"The fact that we were quite young and you are not open to criticism like that in life usually and then all of a sudden you have to deal with a million people online saying (you are) stupid. It was nice to have each other."

She was also happy the sisters made up. 

"In this final season the show really delved into the workings of their relationship. The situations Arya was in forced her to be very brutal and the situations Sansa was in forced her to be very manipulative, so the two of them have very separate skills that at the beginning of last season they were at a rift with but they have started to work out," she says.

She says it was a joy to play such a strong female character. 

Gwendoline Christie and Maisie Williams in a scene from season 7 of Game of Thrones.
Gwendoline Christie and Maisie Williams in a scene from season 7 of Game of Thrones. HELEN SLOAN / HBO

"You know the amount of times I read a script and think why are these not women? It worked so beautifully on the show."

She is certainly not short of work - in comedy Then Came You, animated TV show Gen: Lock and horror movie The New Mutants and she has just signed to thriller The Owners. 

She has also launched the Daisie app which aims to connect young people in creative industries.

As to who does end up on the Iron Throne, she is not saying, but admits keeping the secret is hell.

"We all got given a little storyboard as our wrap gift. It was our character's favourite scene and mine was spoilery as hell. I was terrified. I kept it hidden under the bed."

After filming her last scene, she posted a photo of her blood-soaked trainers on Instagram, with the caption "#lastwomanstanding #barely," intimating she's in it right to the end.

The final season launches on Maisie's 22nd birthday, a neat decade since she filmed her first scene. She says she got to keep Arya's original littlejacket, to which co-star Sophie Turner, who was in the room, shrieks, "Your jacket? How the f**k did you get that?" Maisie replies that the costume department, "likes me ... (not) you," and roars with laughter.

Then she walks out, ready for her next adventure.

The final season of Game of Thrones premieres on Monday at 11am AEST on Fox Showcase.


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