Maisie Williams Talks Heatstroke, Game Of Thrones, And The Hound On A Hill

We sit down with Maisie Williams to discuss her new movie Heatstroke, and why Arya made the choices she did in Game of Thrones.

***This article contains one very minor spoiler from the fourth Game of Thrones book, A Feast For Crows.

“There are so many movies out there with this perfect couple stranded in the middle of nowhere, and I think this is different, because they’re two people who hate each other,” Maisie Williams amusingly surmised about her new (and first) film, Heatstroke. Of course, that might also describe many of the relationships Williams’ Arya has had for the past several seasons on Game of Thrones as well. Both of which figured prominently in our brief but pleasant phone chat earlier this week to mark the DVD and VOD release of Heatstroke.

The story of a dysfunctional family led by a hapless research scientist (Stephen Dorff) that vacations in Africa during the wrong time, the picture quickly turns into one of survival when Williams’ Joe is forced to team up with her father’s girlfriend (Svetlana Mettkina) in order to escape the wild, including some “really cool” hyenas. Yet, the story of a strong willed young woman overcoming a difficult landscape and an even more difficult traveling companion brought my mind back time and again to the Game of Thrones season four finale involving Arya, the Hound, and a hill. We discussed that and more in our short interview.

So, Heatstroke is your first movie, which is a big deal. What attracted you to this project?

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I’ll be honest when this movie first came about I wasn’t really in a position to be choosing roles. I was still very much an unknown actress in this world. Game of Thrones wasn’t the scale it is now. So, I read it and was excited to go to South Africa. [Since] it was a movie, there were so many things going on, and I had such a great experience. It was more than just like a film or a next step. There were so many things going on that I thought that it was exciting.

Were you excited to try an American accent or had you already been working on one?

The American accent is not something that British people are too foreign to. A lot of our TV—we have a lot of American shows on that are playing constantly. So, it wasn’t the first time I had ever done an American accent. For a film it was, but I messed around at home before. And I did have a dialogue coach on the film.

Obviously whether it is Africa or Westeros, there are some similarities between Joe and Arya. When you got that role did you seek that similarity?

No, when this came about, I wasn’t being picky or choosy about it. I loved the character, and I loved that it was more of a contemporary piece and had more of a modern day, teenager backwards type appeal about it. But they are kind of similar in the journeys that they take in how they change. How they end up in extreme situations and march [on].

Speaking of journeys, I would say that in the last season in particular, Arya has been on a darkening path on Game of Thrones. Do you view that as a heroic journey or a tragic one?

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A bit of a tragic one, I think. People who love Arya’s story also love to [ignore] the fact that this is a 12-year-old girl with a sword. That’s not okay. And just because she says a couple of funny lines and seems to be killing the bad guys, I think people turn a blind eye to the fact that she is not okay in the head, and that if you experience this sort of world for long enough that you can’t keep on like that. So, it is a really, really sad story.

I think when Arya left the Hound, people were really like “that’s not fair! Why didn’t she just kill him?” They’re not really thinking about the bigger picture. She doesn’t know what’s right or wrong anymore, and she’s desperately trying to be a loyal person, but she’s not quite sure who that is. And she’s trying to not let her own anger get in the way of good decisions and bad decisions. She is really struggling. And as much as people like to think of her as a really strong female role model, it’s not an easy world. It’s not a heroic storyline. It is kind of sad.

The way I kind of interpreted Arya leaving the Hound on the hill was that she was trying to prove something to herself. She isn’t as emotionally dead inside as she wants to pretend, she’s just trying really hard to appear that way.

I think it was more to show him, to show the Hound—this whole time she’s been trying to prove that she can do this, and she’s okay on her own, and she’s fed up with him mothering her and trying to tell her what’s right and what’s wrong. She’s been so reluctant to take his advice that I think in that final moment when she doesn’t grant him his last wish, it’s like “now do you believe me? Now, you see that actually you taught me too much, and I’m going to use it against you.”

That’s what I got from it. It’s for him; it’s to show him. And I think there’s an element that she doesn’t want to kill this guy. He has done a lot for her; she doesn’t want to put a dagger in his heart, but it’s kind of a sick way to say, “I told you so.” Yeah, there are probably other ways to prove that to him, but that’s the way Game of Thrones goes. It pulls at your heartstrings, and unfortunately he only realized when it was too late that she was going to do well in this world.

Are you looking forward to going to the House of the Black and White and the Faceless Men next season?

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Yeah, I mean, I know that happens in the books. We’re still waiting on the scripts, so I don’t know what they’re going to do with Arya. But yeah that would be really exciting. I love how her story plays out in the books, so yeah we’ll see.

Heatstroke is available on Blu-ray, DVD, and VOD now.

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