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Maisie Williams confirms that Game of Thrones showrunners punked stars with fake deaths

By Benjamin Bullard
Arya in The Iron Throne Game of Thrones

If you want to get a star to spill the beans on all their behind-the-scenes secrets, enticing them with food can only help — and that’s exactly what Maisie Williams faced recently, when the Game of Thrones hero sat down over chicken wings for a lengthy talk, among other things, about her time as Arya Stark on HBO’s hit show. 

Hanging out with First we Feast for a sit-down on the Hot Ones web series, Williams pretty much confirmed a cornucopia full of fun GoT rumors and gossip that’ve circulated through the years, while dishing some fresh insights of her own. 

For starters, Williams confirmed that, yes, more than one GoT star ended up being punked by D.B. Weiss and David Benioff's infamously secretive creative team, about how their characters would ultimately meet their ignominious deaths. 

That includes Alfie Allen (Theon Greyjoy), whom Williams confirmed the show’s writers led astray — for weeks — with a totally phony line about dying at the hands of the Three-eyed Raven. “Yeah, that’s true, they did that,” she said. “I think they told Alfie Allen that he was killed by Bran [Isaac Hempstead Wright] in a really anticlimactic way.” 

“But,” she added, “then they didn’t tell Isaac that they were doing the joke, so he’d [Alfie] then text Isaac, like ‘It’s cool’…and then Isaac was like, ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about.’”

Williams said the writing team similarly teased Kit Harington (Jon Snow) with a made-up story about working a gruesome facial mauling into the long-term story for his character. “[T]hey said he got like, really aggressively mauled on the face — that he was gonna have, like, a huge disfigurement on his beautiful, you know, chiseled jaw,” Williams said. “That one was quite funny.”

Williams said that an on-set visit from Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II also made for a suspenseful moment, when the assembled cast hung back to see whether the queen would break down and do the obvious: try out the Iron Throne for herself. While everyone watched in anticipation, said Williams, the queen’s decades of experience in maintaining royal decorum took over. “No one said [to her], ‘Sit on that chair, because it’s gonna be funny.’ We all just all sort of smiled and said, like…’Is she gonna do it?’ And yeah — she sort of looked at it and said, ‘That doesn’t look very comfortable.’”

As for all those earlier reports that Williams almost missed out on her Game of Thrones stardom right from the beginning, well, it turns out those are true. Williams, who was cast in Game of Thrones when she was only 12, said she indeed nearly ditched her initial audition to play Arya — all because she really, really didn’t want to miss a scheduled school field trip to…a pig farm.

“Yeah, that’s true,” she said. “Mom was like, really putting her foot down and I was, like, kind of mad about it; just really wanting to go on that school trip…but, you know, I wouldn’t be here today. You wouldn’t have wanted me on this show if I had gone to that pig farm.”

Skipping that grade-school farm tour ended up paying off in the end, though. Williams’ time on GoT brought her up close with all kinds of beasts both real and mythic, from horses and wolves to dragons and shadowcats. The series may be over, and Arya may still be sailing into the Sunset Sea, but you can still catch Game of Thrones — from start to finish — on HBO.