Maisie Williams, who plays the revenge-seeking teenager Arya Stark in Game of Thrones, at the OSN launch in Dubai. Anna Nielsen for The National
Maisie Williams, who plays the revenge-seeking teenager Arya Stark in Game of Thrones, at the OSN launch in Dubai. Anna Nielsen for The National

The Stark reality straight from Game of Thrones favourite Maisie Williams

There's Snow going back, according to Game of Thrones star Maisie Williams, who was in Dubai on Monday, October 12, along with Hollywood actor Antonio Banderas for the launch of OSN's new channel and productions.

As rumours continue to swirl about the possible return of Game of Thrones fan-favourite character Jon Snow (played by Kit Harington), Williams, who plays his half-sister Arya Stark in the smash-hit HBO drama, insists that he is very much dead.

Fans were shocked at the end of season five, when Snow was betrayed by his Night’s Watch brothers and left, apparently bleeding to death. Those hoping for his miraculous recovery when season six begins next year appear to be out of luck.

"Of course we get the scripts for the new series," Williams told The National during an exclusive interview. "The new series is a great series. It's a sad series, as they all are, but the characters that are dead are definitely dead. I can safely say that.

“The rest of us are coming back, though for how long we’ll have to wait and see.”

Game of Thrones, based on the best-selling series of fantasy novels by writer George R R Martin, is renowned for killing off favourite characters. As one of few who has survived since the show's debut in 2011, 18-year-old Williams has witnessed her fair share of death scenes.

“I loved watching Ned Stark’s [Arya’s father, played by Sean Bean in season one of the show] death scene,” she says. “Particularly watching it back on TV.

“I’d never done filming on this scale and I was watching it in the shooting during the day and thinking: ‘How are they going to make it look like his head came off?’ Then I watched it in the edit and saw all the effects they do. It was just mind-blowing, at 12 years old, as I was then, thinking: ‘This is an insane industry.’

“But now I’ve also been in a lot of death scenes myself – I’m not dead yet.

“I’ve killed a lot of characters. My favourite was Meryn Trant at the end of the last series. It was a very long day. We did a lot of overtime just to get it right. Ian [Beattie, who played Trant] was a trooper. He had a lot of prosthetics on and it was really good fun.”

Williams landed her Game of Thrones role when she was just 11 years old, and one could be forgiven for thinking that being part of such gruesome scenes at such an early age must have been daunting, but the British actress seems to have dealt with the threat of trauma well.

"I was young and naive enough to not psyche myself out about it," she says. "Now, as I get older, I get really anxious about things – and I'm so glad that back then I was so oblivious to HBO, to Game of Thrones, to the world of television and the life I was ultimately going to be living, because it meant I was real in my audition and I was honest, and that meant I got the role.

“Every now and then I have to to remind myself of that naive girl that did the audition, because it’s thanks to her that I’m now enjoying the ride.

“I have to remind myself that it’s OK not to panic about things. It’s OK to not prepare and just go in and be in the moment because that’s what I did then and it worked out.”

It certainly did work out. Williams is one of the most recognisable 18-year-olds in the world – and her genre fame will get a further boost, not that she needs it, when she appears as a guest star in the latest season of the BBC's long-running sci-fi classic Doctor Who this weekend.

Does she have any strategy for avoiding the problems that have plagued so many other child stars before her?

“No – I’m going to go off the rails and I can’t wait,” she says with a laugh. “I’m kidding – but I can see, being in the industry, I can understand how that happens, not just to young stars but to all stars.

“I think the important thing is to keep your feet on the ground, and to always go home. I know everyone says that, but it’s true. I go away to America, I come here and stay in beautiful hotels and have beautiful views and talk to all these people who tell me how much they love the show and how much they love my character, and it’s a wonderful feeling and it’s amazing.

“But it’s important to go back home, and go back to my normal life and see my siblings – like my sister, who’s about to give birth any day. I’m going back and I’m going to see my nephew, and I love that. That’s what I’m going to do next.”

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