If you’ve ever visited a Game Of Thrones sub reddit, googled ‘cosplay’ or felt the urge to send death threats to a certain bearded novelist urging him to hurry the eff up and finish off the last books, then you’ll want to read this.
Last week, we were lucky enough to rub swords and chat direwolf-themed birthday cakes with the cast of the hit show. All the talk was about superfans shouting ‘Hodor!’ at Isaac Hempstead-Wright who plays Bran Stark (‘I got physically picked up once’), Brienne of Tarth shedding a tear at the Red Wedding (‘I cried, I was emotional!’) and Jamie Lannister getting naked (‘I just let it all hang out’).
And then there was Arya Stark. Or rather 16-year-old Maisie Williams – aka, one of the feistiest new talents around, and one of the reasons the show is loved by a huge number of women, as opposed to being destined to become a fantasy-porn boys club. She totally lived up to expectations when we grilled her about the reaction to that infamous ‘Red Wedding’ episode. (If you haven’t seen GOT, we’re assuming we’ve lost you already, so we're not going to explain this, but get thee to a TV screen pronto.)
‘I think the reaction videos that people did when the episode aired were brilliant. There was one woman on YouTube watching who was shouting “Go Kill Bill on their ass!” They’re hilarious,’ Maisie tells us. ‘And there’s one with a woman who is so distraught that her dog goes to comfort her, but she just pushes him away, saying “Not now!” I love that no one is safe. I find it so boring when the good guy always wins.’
So is Arya Stark a feminist? ‘She’s definitely a feminist,’ says Maisie. ‘What I like about Arya is that she’s a popular character without having to wear dresses. I wasn’t necessarily expecting girls to like Arya – or boys to like her – but I think everyone sees a little bit of themselves in her. She says exactly what she’s thinking and tells it like it is,’ Maisie continues defiantly. ‘I wish I was a little bit more like Arya. I think that’s admirable and why she’s so popular. She doesn’t have the fancy dresses and fancy hair, but she’s still such a likeable character, and when you strip all that way she is still great. I’m glad that people enjoy watching her.’
William’s co-star Gwendoline Christie who plays the ‘ungainly’ knight Brienne of Tarth also warmed to the theme of how brilliant it is to be able to play a strong woman.
‘Game Of Thrones is a great show for women because it shows female characters with real strength,’ she says. ‘You don’t just see women who are strong and physically powerful but you see real emotional mettle – you get to see women deal with complexity in multi-dimensional ways and you get to see real people. I think there hasn’t been a flood of characters like that before. It shows a more realistic representation of women and I think that’s essential, and I think it’s long overdue.’
So far so feminist. But, of course, I couldn’t speak to Brienne of Tarth without asking about that nude scene in the bath with Jamie Lannister. ‘Oh, the nudity is just another day at the office!’ she says, laughing but refusing to go into detail.
Pint-sized, sword-wielding feminists decapitating heads, nude bath scenes and as much online fan fiction as you can handle – Game Of Thrones is essential viewing to escape the realities of life. After all, life, like the night, can be dark and full of terror.
Game Of Thrones Series 3 is on DVD now; Series 4 starts on Sky Atlantic April 7th
Follow Kieran on Twitter @kieran_yates
This article originally appeared on The Debrief.