Maisie Williams and her portrayal of Arya Stark was one of the best parts of the Game of Thrones series. Even as the show quality got quite rocky toward the end, fan love for Arya and her character journey remained quite high.
That’s because Arya Stark is a very dynamic character who significantly grew and transformed over time. The same is true of Maisie Williams herself, and her transformation has been nothing short of amazing!
Don’t believe it? Here are the significant and transformative events that made Maisie Williams into such an inspirational superstart.
A Modest Childhood
Many famous actors come from a rich Hollywood heritage. And when they come from that much wealth and power, it’s not too surprising that someone ends up as a successful actor.
This certainly wasn’t the case for Maisie Williams. She comes from a humble background, and she once said her English family wasn’t exactly swimming in “bags of money.” Nonetheless, she forged deep bonds with her siblings and her parents.
In fact, her family nicknamed her Miaise after an old British comic strip called The Perishers (her actually first name is Margaret). This affectionate nickname would eventually be famous all over the world.
Turning Her Back On School
Young actors often have it pretty rough. For example, they must learn how to balance their academic education with their acting lessons and opportunities. Eventually, Maisie and her family made the difficult decision to focus entirely on acting.
She ended up ditching the GCSE exams and leaving school to focus more on her career. She stands by the decision. She’s “not sorry” and said that school was full of “people who wanted to see me fail.”
Considering her insane success, it seems like she made the right decision!
She Can Dance If She Wants To
In the Game of Thrones series, Maisie’s character Arya receives swordfighting lessons from the mysterious Syrio Forel. His fighting style was called The Water Dance, so the Starks called the sessions “dance lessons.”
Ironically, Maisie Williams was absolutely devoted to real dance lessons throughout her entire life. She went so far as to attend the Bath Dance College. The actress firmly believes if she hadn’t gotten the role of Arya, she would have pursued a career “trying to become a dancer.”
Fortunately for us all, she got the part, and her life was never the same.
Turning A Failed Audition Into Career Success
Wondering why Maisie seriously considered an entirely different career? One reason for this is that her first audition was a failure.
On the recommendation of her dance teacher, Maisie attended a Paris talent show and snagged an audition. She auditioned to get a part in Nanny McPhee 2. Maisie didn’t get the part, but she did get a chance to audition for Arya.
She learned from her earlier failure, later pointing out that “all auditions are good experience.” And she transformed the experience of that early failure into a successful Game of Thrones audition.
Older Millennials and Generation X often express relief that social media wasn’t part of their childhoods. That meant no permanent digital record of mistakes and no way for bullies to reach out with long-distance harassment.
However, Maisie Williams got the worst of both worlds. She spent her formative years as one of the most famous people in the world. That meant that as a teenager, she had to contend with cyberbullying on a massive scale.
In an interview, she pointed out that fame didn’t really insulate her from toxic online comments. “The comments still hurt just as much, whether it’s one person, whether it’s everyone in your school, whether it’s everyone in the London area.”
The Critics Start to Notice
There are many ways to measure success in Hollywood. For example, there is often a big gulf between fan popularity and critical acclaim. For Maisie Williams, she managed to achieve both at the same time!
The awesome actress snagged a Saturn Award in 2015 for her portrayal of Arya Stark. And in 2016, she received an Emmy nomination for the same role. With this much critical love for her first major role, we expect great things from her future roles.
Relationships Bloom, Onscreen and Off
Considering that Maisie Williams was only 12 years old when she got the Game of Thrones gig, fans have been able to see her grow up in realtime. And, inevitably, that meant watching her develop into romantic relationships.
Onscreen, that culminated in a sex scene with the character Gendry. The scene was hard for many fans to watch, as they still considered Arya to be the young child of previous scenes. Maisie herself made the scene a bit easier by avoiding getting nude, saying the scene wasn’t “really about that.”
And while it was weird to see Arya Stark involved in any kind of romance, Maisie Williams was quietly in a relationship for years. She dated Ollie Jackson, founder of the ocean cleanup effort 100 Tons of Plastic. Later, she started dating Reuben Selby, a designer who runs a modeling agency.
Reuben is already making her dreams come true. Maisie once said “I’ve always wanted the perfect custom red-carpet dress—something that I feel really confident and comfortable in.” Thanks to Reuben, she had the perfect dress for the 2019 Emmy Awards!
A Sisterly Bond
TV fans are sometimes sad to discover that people with onscreen chemistry aren’t really friends in real life. For instance, Mythbusters star Adam Savage shocked everyone when he casually said that he’s not “really friends” with co-star Jamie Hyneman and that they “don’t really get along on a personal level.”
However, the Game of Thrones cast seems much tighter than that. And there’s no better example of this than the bond between Maisie Williams and Sophie Turner (who played her onscreen sister, Sansa Stark). Over the course of 8 years, they’ve had some wild offscreen bonding experiences, including sleepovers where they got high and chilled out in the bathtub together.
That friendship culminated with Maisie Williams serving as Sophie Turner’s Maid of Honor when she married Joe Jonas.
Arya the Activist
Perhaps the best example of Maisie Williams’ transformation is how much she has embraced activism. She has gone from being the scared dancer auditioning for a role to a confident young woman who advocates for others.
She became a feminist role model when she spoke out about sexism in Hollywood and how it affects so many women. And Maisie also became a global ambassador for the Dolphin Project, an endeavor that seeks to protect dolphins all around the world.
Why dolphins? Maisie claims that it “struck a chord” in her heart, and she described her passion in a way that nicely sums up her activism. “I’m a firm believer that, if there is something that you really want to stand up and fight for, then you should.”
Ultimately, we have no choice but to love Maisie Williams. Despite her stunning transformation, she remains a fierce fighter, both onscreen and off.