She may be petite, but “Game of Thrones” Season 3 character Meera Reed, played by British actress Ellie Kendrick, is a strong, fierce female.
In her introductory scene earlier this season (Episode 302), after Osha held a spear to Jojen Reed’s back (he had just addressed Bran Stark), Meera shocked the wildling by coming up behind her and holding a knife to her throat. “My sister carries the weapons,” Jojen said, hinting at their atypical relationship where she’s the brawn and he’s the brains.
And on Sunday night, Ellie’s Meera character was showing off more of her unexpected skills, skinning rabbits with Osha, in a moment not for the squeamish.
“She’s the ultimate tomboy,” Ellie said of Meera, in a new interview with AccessHollywood.com.
Ellie, who is currently performing at London’s Royal Court in “The Low Road,” has chosen diverse roles in her career, including playing a school girl opposite Carrie Mulligan in 2009’s “An Education,” Juliet in “Shakespeare’s Globe: Romeo & Juliet,” and Anne Frank in the miniseries, “The Diary of Anne Frank,” and she told Access about her latest challenge — playing the unconventional Meera in the HBO series.
AccessHollywood.com: You’ve done a lot of projects set in the real world — fictional characters sometimes — but set in reality. What made you want to do a fantasy show?
Ellie Kendrick: I was really attracted to doing ‘Game of Thrones’ because I thought the character of Meera was absolutely amazing. I’ve never really had the chance to do something so kind of out there. Like we had to learn how to use a bow and arrow and how to skin rabbits and I was sort of striding around playing this kind of mad scout, and I’d never got the chance to use any of that kind of stuff in any of the more naturalistic, real world stuff that I’d done.
Access: Did the job description, so to speak, read, ‘must be good with a spear’?
Ellie: (Laughs) Perhaps it should have done to give me a bit of warning. But no, I didn’t get anything through. I didn’t even know we were going to be skinning rabbits, which is a skill that I had to learn. I don’t know how much you know about it, but out there, they’ve got kind of like camps in Ireland where people can teach you how to horse ride or how to shoot a bow and arrow or how to do sword fighting. It’s kind of like master classes. You can just say, ‘Oh I need one of these for my character,’ and they’ll sort of set you up, So, I found myself in this kind of weird tent with this guy — lovely man, looked like Merlin — who used to shoot longbow for Ireland and he was teaching me how to use a bow and arrow. It was fantastic.
Access: George R.R. Martin writes some very strong female characters. When you learned about yours — she has a brother who doesn’t fight, she’s the fighter — did your heart leap a little?
Ellie: Oh, absolutely. I’ve always been a bit of a tomboy and I’ve always loved strong female characters and I absolutely loved the idea of playing Meera because she’s so cool. She’s the ultimate tomboy and I love the fact that she’s got this really cool brother who’s totally happy about the fact that she carries the weapons and she does all the defending, even though, as you will have seen from the program, I am about 5’ 2” and incredibly weak in real life. But yeah, it was a lot of fun to be able to play a character like that. … [It] is absolutely fantastic, my kind of dream role.
Access: Did you actually go ahead and read the books?
Ellie: Yeah, I did actually, because I thought, I don’t want to sign up for this part and find out that I like die or have to get naked two episodes down the line (laughs) as sometimes happens, and so I looked at all of my parts in the books because my character accompanies Bran. … There’s so much rich description of all of the characters and it’s actually incredibly useful as an actor, to be able to read that and be like, ‘Great! Thanks! Thanks, George R.R. Martin. You’ve done all the work for me!’
Access: Do you have a theory on why Bran needs to go on this journey, why he needs to use to learn these warg powers?
Ellie: Well, Bran has this very special talent that — as you find out throughout the series, it’s far greater than anyone had anticipated and it turns out to be a real gift. … Even if you read all the books that are out at the moment, you still don’t know what happens to him, but suffice to say, in the books, he goes on a very long journey to kind of find out how to use his powers and how to explore the gift that he’s been given and it turns out that it’s really something quite spectacular.
Access: A lot of your scenes are with Natalia Tena, who plays Osha. Is she the coolest person the set?
Ellie: Yeah. … It was really nice to work with her, especially when we’re doing things like [going] out exploring the woods and pretending to have these fights with all of these weapons and skinning these rabbits together. It was a lot of fun to do with her because she’s doesn’t mess around. She really gets the job done, but at the same time, she’s got a very good sense of humor and she gets a bit mad and excitable like me so that was a lot of fun. We were actually staying out in Belfast together at the same time and we both got obsessed with watching ‘The Killing’ together — the original, the European version. We would stay up until like 2 o’clock in the morning watching it in her hotel room.
Access: And it’s so cool she’s a singer in a band as well…
Ellie: Yeah she does, and she lives on a barge, or like a house boat, which I went to visit after we finished filming.
Access: That could be useful because Rory McCann (who plays The Hound) told us he lives on an island you can only get to by boat.
Ellie: He does! I met him when we went out there and he talked about it. Yeah, it sounds mad.
Access: Right now, Meera and Jojen Reed are heading North with Bran. What can you hint at about what’s coming up?
Ellie: Well, you’ll be following us on the journey up North towards The Wall and more and more of Bran’s kind of powers will become kind of visible and [he starts] to do some pretty fantastic stuff with his mind, which you’ll find out about and apart from that, there’s going to be lots of woodland — so much woodland that we were traipsing through, so you’ll see that.
Access: Currently you’re on the stage in London doing a production of ‘The Low Road’?
Ellie: Yeah, it’s the Bruce Norris play that I’m doing at the moment. … We’ve been doing that for a couple of months now. It’s all about America actually.
Access: Tell us about your role.
Ellie: We all play lots of different characters in the show. There are over 120 different costumes… everyone has to change into four or five different characters, so I’m playing loads of different things. It’s all set in the 1760s-70s and I am playing, amongst other things, a whore, a highway man, a puritan, a dinner guest [at] an 18th century banquet and a few other things besides. … It’s a huge kind of sprawling play, a bit like ‘Game of Thrones.’ There’s lots of different characters in it… and it’s a lot of fun to watch. It’s basically all about America and the War for Independence, and the kind of [political] system America was founded on and capitalism and all that kind of stuff.
“Game of Thrones” airs Sunday nights at 9 PM on HBO. “The Low Road” runs through May 11 at The Royal Court in London.
-- Jolie Lash
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