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Jessica Chastain calls out Game of Thrones for Sansa's harrowing storyline

By James Comtois
Jessica Chastain

Jessica Chastain (The Martian, Mama) has an issue with the latest episode of Game of Thrones and is taking the series and its writers to task for suggesting that rape is character-building.

Content warning: This piece touches upon rape and sexual assault. 

It also contains mild spoilers for the latest episode of Game of Thrones

In the fourth episode of the final season, "The Last of the Starks," Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) talks with the Hound (Rory McCann), who tells her she would have avoided being repeatedly tortured and sexually assaulted if she had left with him in Season 2. 

To this, Sansa replies: “Without Littlefinger and Ramsay and the rest, I would’ve stayed a little bird all my life.” Suggesting, of course, that avoiding these traumas would have kept her a scared and frail little girl and enduring them is what made her the strong and empowered adult she is now.

Chastain, who co-stars with Turner in the upcoming X-Men film Dark Phoenix, is calling the creators of the show out.

“Rape is not a tool to make a character stronger,” the Oscar-nominated actress wrote on Twitter Monday below a picture of Turner sitting on the Iron Throne. “A woman doesn’t need to be victimized in order to become a butterfly. The #littlebird was always a Phoenix. Her prevailing strength is solely because of her. And her alone.”


This is not the first time that the series has been cited for using rape as a plot device or shorthand for character development. Episodes such as “Breaker of Chains” and "Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken" have led fans and commentators to call out showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss for their approach to handling the issue.

Game of Thrones airs its penultimate episode on HBO at 9 p.m. ET on May 12.