Like the melting snows that mark the end of a Northern summer, memory can be a warm and comforting thing, even in frigid places. For instance it is easy to forget as we head into the endgame of Game of Thrones Season 8 just how much these characters have changed: Arya was once an innocent girl who dreamed of going on adventures, and yet her Dickensian trek through burning riverlands has left her traumatized and deadened inside; Sansa fantasized of marrying a prince or being the Lady of a great House, and now after enduring Joffrey she is the respected but cynical Lady of her ancestral home after all her older siblings and parents were killed.
These harrowing journeys have been profound on screen, but in many ways they’ve been just as dramatic off. In a new Game of Thrones featurette, “The Cast Remembers,” a variety of Game of Thrones actors, including real-life Arya and Sansa Stark, Maisie Williams and Sophie Turner, recall their earliest memories about joining Game of Thrones. For instance, John Bradley, who plays Samwell Tarly, notes that not only was Game of Thrones a huge part of his career, but it launched his career as his first job out of a drama school that specialized in theater and only taught about three hours of acting in front of a camera.
“My fourth hour in front of a camera was day one on Game of Thrones,” Bradley said. Other amusing anecdotes about recalling the past include Peter Dinklage’s initial reaction about being offered a nondescript fantasy series (“ugh, noo!”), Kit Harington recalling shooting his first scene with future-wife Rose Leslie, and Lena Headey vividly keeping the mental image of working on the first day with “baby Sophie and baby Maisie, and baby Isaac [Hempstead-Wright].” As she knowingly smiles, “And now they’re out there, full grown.”
As for those grown folks, Williams hopes Arya continues to be an inspiration for young girls, just as the character was for the actress playing her.
“I’m so confident. I’ve just got this confidence from the show and from playing Arya. I really feel like I want to inject that into each and every person I know and love, but also any girl who admires the work I do.” Turner also credits the cast and her character with influencing the young star she has become.
“I’ve grown up with these people, I’ve changed so much as a person because of these people,” Turner said. Which also echoes Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who most eloquently sums up the Game of Thrones experience as:
“I was like a little puppy when I arrived, I was like Bambi on the ice. And coming to Belfast, I learned how to walk with pride and joy.”
You can find all their wistful reminisces in the above video, as well as Liam Cunningham not hastily predicting Game of Thrones will be a series folks watch generations from now. And their watch can continue when the final season premieres on Sunday, April 14 on HBO. You can also read our theories about it right here.