Celebrity Then And Now
Posted by Jake Frost
Celebrity Then And Now
Publication: Stanton Daily. Posted by Jake Frost
April 15, 1997
2011 - Present
Currently Known For:
Arya Stark in Game of Thrones
“She’s feisty, a bit of a rebel, a tomboy, she is also quite brave and quick thinking. She wants to be listened to but sees everything very black and white… bit like me really!” It’s not often that an actor’s debut is also their breakthrough performance but that is exactly what happened with English actress Maisie Williams when she made her professional acting debut in 2011 as Arya Stark in Game of Thrones. Earning several awards for her performance including a Saturn Award and nominations at the Primetime Emmy Awards, the 20-year-old Williams is currently working on the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones, which leaves many to wonder what’s next for the young actress who’s left a lasting impression on Hollywood over the last few years!
Long before she was known as the tomboyish Arya, Margaret Constance Williams was born on April 15, 1997 in Bristol, United Kingdom. Nicknamed “Maisie” after the adorable character in The Perishers comic strip, Williams was raised alongside her two older brothers and older sister in Clutton, Somerset where, even at an early age, she showed an interest in acting. Attending Clutton Primary School and then the Norton Hill School while often taking time off for auditions, Williams was 13 years old when she beat 300 actresses from across England for the part of Arya on HBO’s fantasy drama series, Game of Thrones.
Receiving critical acclaim for her performance during the first season, Williams was a breakout star on the show and took home the 2012 Portal Award for Best Supporting Actress, which made her the youngest to ever win the honor. The following year, she was nominated for a Young Artist Award for Best Performance and sealed her fate as an international television star with the series becoming a fan favorite as Williams took on other roles in the BBC’s The Secret of Crickley Hall as well as a skit titled “The Olympic Ticket Scalper” in Funny or Die. She also built her film career with appearances in Scraggly Sue, Heatstroke, Gold, Up on the Roof, Corvidae, We Are Monsters and The Falling, the latter of which earned her a London Film Critics’ Circle Award and an Evening Standard British Film Award in 2016. The same year, she earned her first Primetime Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress on Game of Thrones.
“It was the height of Game of Thrones when I left school because the school was not accommodating—they actually politely asked me to leave because my attendance was bad,” Williams said of enrolling at Bath Dance College. “I moved out when I was 16 and started living on my own in Bath, and recently, flew the nest to West London. But, I go home as much as I can, every weekend… I only really moved to London because my work is there. If it was up to me, I’d stay in Bristol forever. I love my normal life and I don’t ever want to lose that. I remember going season-to-season, people coming up to me and saying, ‘Your life is going to change!’ Saying it quite excitedly… and it’s like, well, your life can change, if you want it to, but you don’t want to make your life change too dramatically, you can live as normal a life as possible.”
Determined to keep things normal despite her growing stardom on Game of Thrones, Williams learned to adapt as one of the youngest amid a more adult cast on the popular series. “I feel like I’ve grown up extremely quickly working on Game of Thrones. I’m now working in an adults’ world at 16… I can fly all the way to Northern Ireland, but I can’t book into a hotel because I’m still in my early teens. It’s like this weird limbo where half of me is like, ‘Grow up!’ and the other half is like, ‘You’re still a child,’” Williams said. Of course, the gruesome nature of the show was something else entirely as Williams later explained why her parents allowed her to watch the series even with Arya involved in a lot of the more violent scenes. “I knew how it was shot and it was no longer scary or gruesome,” she said, “it was more sort of fascinating. I think it was down to the parents’ discretion really and my parents really didn’t see an issue with it. I didn’t want to miss out on reading the scripts or watching the show, it was just the most exciting thing to ever happen to anyone in my family.”
Amid her success on the series, Williams has taken on a variety of projects including the 2015 British docudrama Cyberbully, in addition to guest-starring in two episodes of Doctor Who. However, she’s currently focused on wrapping up the final seasons of Game of Thrones with the network recently announcing that the eighth season will be the last. “I think it’s quite exciting that the show’s coming to an end, not only because we get to tell the end of the story, which is what everyone’s been waiting for for a long time, myself included, but also because there’s a whole sector of opportunities that I have for after the show now,” Williams said shortly after the announcement. “I think it’s a time to look quite positively at the future and really try to shape my career without being tied to anything.”
Going on to admit that she’s looking forward to the freedom of not having to film for six months of the year, Williams also says that playing Arya has certainly impacted her in ways she never imagined. “This last year, the show’s become massive, overwhelming,” she said. “It’s made me think about my future. I want to act the rest of my life, but I don’t want paparazzi everywhere. I don’t want to take a private jet everywhere. People don’t just do that because they’ve got the money, but because they’re sitting in airport lounges and literally doing photo after photo and I don’t want to be an a—hole to anyone… but it is an overwhelming life. Since the beginning, people said, ‘Your life is going to change,’ but I never believed it until this year.”
Today, the 20-year-old sees just how much her life has changed as she’s balancing the final seasons of Game of Thrones with a handful of projects in the works. In fact, keep an eye and ear out for Williams in 2018 when she voices Goona in Early Man, plays Skye in Departures, and makes her superhero debut as Wolfsbane in the X-Men sequel, The New Mutants. Beyond that, we can’t wait to see how Game of Thrones will end and what the future holds for the talented and beautiful Maisie Williams!