(Spoiler Alert! If you haven’t seen the Season 4 premiere of “Game of Thrones,” bookmark this link and come back after watching the show.)
The world of “Game of Thrones” has been brutal on Maisie Williams’ Arya Stark, and in Sunday’s Season 4 premiere, she found a new way to fight back.
Arya seemed to take a little delight as she finally crossed one of the names off of her revenge list. She took a step toward the dark side, as she slowly drove her sword Needle through the head of one of the King’s men – Polliver – while repeating the very words he used when he killed her curly blond-haired friend Lommy in Season 2.
Maisie spoke with AccessHollywood.com about the game changing moment for Arya.
AccessHollywood.com: At the end of the episode, we saw a huge change in Arya. Did you always know that was coming?
Maisie Williams: Yeah. I think from the moment we pick her up, there is a change anyway, but when it’s portrayed to the audience is that last bit. It’s like the biggest risk ever walking into that barn, like she basically is walking into death, sort of thing. It could go one of two ways and she knows that completely, but she kind of knows that The Hound will follow her too.
Access: At the start of the episode, Sansa is clearly grieving, following the events of The Red Wedding, but with Arya, it’s like her emotions are gone.
Maisie: I feel like the crying Arya is gone. People deal with emotions very, very differently, but I feel like she almost tells herself that she doesn’t care, to not dwell on it and tries to sort of distance herself from it, almost like, ‘I lived without them for this long, so just pretend that I’m still going to see them.’ Like, ‘I’m still on the road. Pretend that I didn’t actually get that close and it’s just been like how it’s been every other day since that day.’
Access: What goes through her head when she sees Polliver? It just clicks, doesn’t it?
Maisie: There’s that instant where, I think at that moment, it replays in her head so fresh, the fact that Lommy was killed with her sword. … Every night when she says the names, she remembers why. I think the reasons why she says the names is, of course, to keep her head straight and her focus for what she wants to do, and why she’s here. I was trying to figure out when I was doing the scene, when she decides how she’s gonna kill him, because she doesn’t know how it’s going to play out, obviously. She gets in there and she thinks, ‘OK, we’re gonna kill the guy and we’re gonna get out,’ but then this whole chicken thing goes on and then The Hound is talking about the war of Westeros, and the whole country’s going mad, and Arya’s a bit like, ‘This is kind of not what I signed up for,’ a little bit. And then the fight breaks out and she… doesn’t want to get in the way. [She] and The Hound work extremely differently, so I don’t think they could ever really work together. She’s just keeping back, watching for any sort of weakness that she can go in and sort of take out.
Access: The Hound really seems to switch when Polliver says, ‘I’ll trade you one of my chickens for one of yours.’ What did you think about that moment?
Maisie: [The Hound] has nothing for her anymore, so when that kind of happens… that’s a really good bargain for him to just give him me and leave. Instead, it makes him angry and I think it really helps Arya. She almost is angry about it because she doesn’t want them to like each other and he doesn’t either, but it’s kind of what your natural instinct does to like fight for each other. They’re all each other have, really.
Access: Tell me about the ‘killing Polliver’ moment. As an actress, you repeat the lines that were said two seasons ago. Did you practice them a lot? What did you do to get that right?
Maisie: We did it several different ways. They wanted it to be really kind of happy almost…
Access: Enjoying the—
Maisie: Yeah, enjoying the moment, because we see this change in Arya. When I was saying it, I was always trying to remind him and then he doesn’t quite get it at the beginning and then, ‘You can’t walk. Have I got to carry you?’ Then, it’s like, ‘What the hell are you talking about? You can’t carry me.’ Then he’s like, ‘Oh. I know where I know you,’ and then, ‘Boom!’ Poor guy. I thought it was a fantastic scene when I read it. I was literally just like [this is a] badass moment, and it’s the end of Episode 1.
Access: What were you thinking about with that look on your face, that sort of gleeful look as you shove Needle through Polliver?
Maisie: It’s the start of something new for Arya. … She’s finally killing someone from her list. She’s finally doing something of worth. She’s realizing that actually, she can do this; this is a guy like twice the size of her — with The Hound’s help — but she took on like five different guys. She instigated that and I think she’s realizing that actually, she can do more than people think and that she thinks also.
Access: Do you think that is a real turning point for her? The book talks about Arya having this hole in her that she thinks will never be filled again. But in the show, it’s almost like her heart starts blackening.
Maisie: It’s kind of different.
Access: Melisandre hinted at it too.
Maisie: In the books, she never did anything because she liked killing. It was all for the cause, for this game. And I think in the series, it’s a lot more brutal. But the series, yeah, instead of Arya dwelling on this hole, as you said, that will never be filled, I feel like she’s just accepted that and instead of filling that with her family, [she’s] just filling it with the people [she wants to knock] off her hit list.
Access: The great scene at the end where Arya and The Hound are riding off on their horses — would you categorize it as a big change in their relationship? She is no longer riding on the front of his horse, she’s riding with him – on her own horse.
Maisie: Exactly. She is now her own person and she is not tied up any more and she’s just on the horse and they’re there riding together and they accept the fact that actually, they are good together and they both have traits that each other need.
“Game of Thrones” continues Sunday night at 9 PM ET/PT on HBO.
-- Jolie Lash