With season 6 of HBO's Game of Thrones now officially underway, a new season of mysteries has begun. Among other plot points left dangling at the end of season 5, fans have gotten their first look at how Maisie Williams' Arya Stark is coping with losing her sight.
The actress recently discussed what it was like to play a blind character, as well as where things are going with her character in the season. She also revealed the level of stuntwork she's doing in the new season, and even mentioned her initial motivation for taking the role years ago.
Speaking with the New York Times, Williams talked about the difficulties facing Arya at the beginning of Game of Thrones season 6. One of the big issues she faces is trust, as she has to rely on others for the first time in years. As Williams explained:
You can’t comprehend being without your eyes, and you have to put your faith and trust in the people around you, who are also the ones who put you in that position. She has no other choice. So that’s a really interesting position to see her in, because she’s never had to trust someone. It’s a very vulnerable place for her to be at the beginning of the series, but things will turn around.
She also discussed changes between Arya in season 5 and where she finds herself now. She characterized Arya as "shallow" during the previous season, but explained that things have changed since then:
Arya was quite shallow. “I’m gonna be a sick killer and then have my list, and I’m gonna go back and avenge my family.” It was such a childish way of thinking about it. Then she got there and realized this isn’t a joke; this isn’t like a holiday camp your parents send you off to.
Williams admits that some fans will find her role in the early part of the season a bit boring, though it's part of the character's overall evolution. Some complained about her part in season 5 as well, not understanding the reasoning behind Arya having to sweep floors or do other menial tasks when she's supposed to be a warrior. Her arc in season 6 will showcase more of this training and growth as a character, teaching her skills that will stay with the character into future seasons.
One thing that some fans may wonder is whether it's difficult for Williams to act blind now that the character has lost her sight. She revealed that it isn't necessarily as difficult as some might imagine, thanks in part to her costume:
For a lot of the close-ups, I had contact lenses that were opaque, so I couldn’t see anything anyway. For the fight scenes, I had contact lenses I could see through. But that was more of a health and safety thing, because I was wielding a stick and poor Faye didn’t want to get hit in the face. But she still did.
She is apparently doing a lot of her own stunts in the new season as well, including the fight scene in the season 6 premiere. More complex or technical stunts rely on stunt doubles, however.
In the end, the season is a "second chance" for Arya, helping her to realize the seriousness of the road she's chosen and gaining the skills she'll need to walk it. As Williams explained:
It’s her second chance... Arya, who we’ve always loved, is getting pulled apart. But she will ultimately use it to her advantage, just as she always does. She takes every negative and uses it as a positive, and that happens in a big way this year.
Williams has been playing the character of Arya since she was 12 years old, and admits that she's a fan of the show despite starring in it. She admitted to The Guardian that she watches the show with her mother, giving them a chance to hang out and catch up with each other. Game of Thrones has been a major influence in her life and has skyrocketed her career, though she apparently had a hard time grasping just how popular the show was when it first premiered. She was happy to be able to pay for her own dance lessons and help out her family financially, though she was concerned with how much she'd make at first:
“The thing I was really obsessed about was whether I would earn enough money to buy myself a laptop. My stepdad, Gary, just looked at me and said: ‘I think there’ll be enough for a couple of laptops, Maisie.’”
She's grateful for Game of Thrones, admitting that if the show hadn't come along she would “probably be living in London in someone’s spare bedroom trying to be a dancer and getting by on nothing.” She did admit, though, that if the opportunity had come along to be a dancer then she would have "left acting in a second. Like that.” Her fans are likely glad that her big break in dancing didn't come along.
Game of Thrones season 6 continues next Sunday with ‘Home’ @9pm on HBO.