Game of Thrones has built its brand (and its rabid fanbase) on the backs of its huge cast of long-developing characters, which means that after its seventh season, all its survivors had come a long way. Few have come as far as Arya Stark, played by Maisie Williams. Williams originated the role back in 2011, when she was just 14, playing a tomboy noble more into swordplay and pranks than gowns and sewing.
Now, six years later, Williams posted a throwback photo to her Instagram of her first day on set.
That girl is now a stone cold killer. Or at least plays one on TV. Understanding how far her character has come is analogous to how far Williams has come as an actress. Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright), for example, hasn’t really gotten the growth needed to be a breakout star, just because the role doesn’t allow its player much opportunity for big moments. Though the show has a final season that seems eons away, audiences know Williams and Arya will be huge components of it -- all the way from that first day on set sitting underneath her character’s name.
That soft, goofy grin comes up less and less as the show goes on, but the rare moments when Williams breaks through the toughened Arya exterior make the character one of the show’s best. Her impressive transformation portends an even more impressive career, something hard to predict or maintain for any actor, let alone one who has grown up in front of audiences.