At the age of 22, Maisie Williams has already had a career that most actors would dream of.
Cast as Arya Stark, the feisty, second-youngest Stark who resents being trained in that art of being a lady, in HBO's epic fantasy series Game of Thrones at the age of 11, a little over a decade later Williams is only just wrapping up her time on the biggest show of the decade.
Along with co-stars Kit Harington and Emilia Clarke, Williams began Game of Thrones as an unknown. Now, she's one of the biggest names in showbiz.
Still, Williams is more than just the show that broke her into the mainstream - so much more, in fact.
Along with appearing in Game of Thrones, Williams has had stints in two other major franchises.
The actress played the character of Ashildr in the long-running BBC sci-fi programme, Doctor Who.
She is also going to star in the upcoming X-Men film, New Mutants, playing Rahne Sinclair / Wolfsbane: a Scottish mutant "struggling to reconcile her religious beliefs with her power to turn into a wolf."
But beyond her acting, Maisie Williams herself is a very interesting character.
Here are 20 things you didn't know about Maisie Williams, the working-class West Country girl who became one of Britain's biggest stars.
It probably goes without saying that, thanks to Game of Thrones, Maisie Williams is set for life where the acting career is concerned.
She appears in two more massive franchises, including playing Ashildr in an episode of Doctor Who and Rahne Sinclair / Wolfsbane in the upcoming X-Men: The New Mutants film.
However, unlike the rest of her young co-stars, being an actor wasn't initially in Williams' game plan.
Having attended Bath's Sue Hill School of Dance as a youngster, in a 2011 interview, Williams admitted: "My first love is dancing".
She attended the school during her time on Game of Thrones, balancing playing the fearsome Arya Stark with lessons in ballet.
These skills would be handy for Arya Stark and the art of the Braavosi Water Dancing, a type of sword fighting.
Williams is now proficient in musical theatre, ballet, tap, street and freestyle.
She told the Guardian in 2016: "If I could have had a career in dancing, I would have left acting in a second."
In the same interview, she admitted that she was finding the show's success hard to grasp, and the money that came with it.
Suddenly I could pay for my own dancing lessons and school trips, all those things my mum had always paid for. I was able to help out.”
Back when the cast were auditioning for the show, Game of Thrones was just another TV pilot in the early planning stages.
With acting then only a passing interest, an 11-year-old Williams wasn't exactly keen on auditioning for a role in a TV series she knew nothing about.
Of course, Game of Thrones would go on to be one of the biggest television hits in the world, with the principal cast being paid millions per episode.
Instead, Williams wanted to go on a school trip to a pig farm, but her agent insisted she attend.
Begrudgingly, Williams nailed the audition, and won herself a part on the biggest show of the decade.
We're pretty sure she has enough money now to buy several pig farms, if she so wished! Think of all that bacon!
In a 2019 interview on Lorraine, Williams admitted: "I desperately wanted to go on a school trip instead - good job I didn't! I wouldn't be here now."
In the same interview she admitted to having no idea how much of an impact the show was going to make on her life, the star said: ‘It’s really strange, now in this final season, I’ve done the most reflecting and looking back to the first [season].
As Game of Thrones grew from an acclaimed HBO series into a TV behemoth watched by millions worldwide, the show became an all-consuming occupation for the cast.
With the shooting schedule stretching out to up to nine months of the year, Williams for one had to drop out of school - at age 14.
As a result, Williams never sat her GSCE exams, though she had a tutor on the Game of Thrones set to learn in the gaps between filming.
Although she was predicted high grades, the actress was taken out of school early by her mum and stepfather to focus on her career.
In 2014, Williams' mother told the Mail on Sunday: "Maisie was given a lot of opportunities that we didn't feel we could turn down to concentrate on education."
"I know a lot of people wouldn't agree with that, but that's what we decided to do. At the time, Maisie was filming, there were appearances and other things. She didn't have the time to sit her exams."
"It wasn't a snap decision. It came after a series of events that made us think: Are we really going to say, 'No, Maisie, you need to be in school doing your exams' when somebody is offering the chance to travel the world and act in all these wonderful things?"
Refreshingly for a celeb, Maisie Williams isn't afraid to be disarmingly open and honest about her take on the world.
This became obvious in 2014, when Williams criticised Emma Watson - another former child star - in an interview with the Guardian.
It wasn't long after Watson gave a now-famous speech on feminism to the UN, and Williams - herself a staunch feminist - was asked her opinion.
Dismissing Watson's "first-world feminism", Williams said: “A lot of what Emma Watson spoke about, I just think, ‘that doesn’t bother me’".
"There are creepy things that people say online that I shouldn’t have to read, but there are bigger things going on in other countries. . ."
"I know things aren’t perfect for women in the UK and in America, but there are women in the rest of the world who have it far worse."
This is despite Williams originally tweeting in support of Emma's speech.
The actress wrote the simple tweet: "@EmWatson thank you. #HeForShe."
It is clear that Williams still does support Emma and her message, but also wants to highlight other issues at the same time.
Before Brexit even happened, things were getting heated in British politics, to say the least.
This was perhaps evidenced best by the fact that Maisie Williams made a kill list of British political figures in the run-up to the 2015 general election.
I mean, let's be honest, who in Britain didn't have a secret list of people that they would like to have an unfortunate accidents.
In a short video made for Dazed, Williams encouraged young people to vote while standing by a collage of famous faces and an Arya-esque 'kill list'.
Controversially, the list included names of such notable British political figures as David Cameron, Tony Blair and Russell Brand.
Of course, in light of the murder of British MP, Jo Cox, joking about killing a political figure is no laughing matter.
Also on Williams' list: Piers Morgan, Rupert Murdoch and Kanye West, as well as Take That's Gary Barlow, who she labelled a 'tax dodger'.
The 'kill list' is in reference to her character, Arya's, own list of people she wishes to kill...a 'prayer' which she recites before bed and include in it all the people who have wronged her or her family and friends over the years.
Williams isn't just proudly outspoken where politics and feminism are concerned: she's also a keen advocate for animal welfare.
Williams has used her social media presence to encourage followers to protest corporate animal testing.
This is a cause we should all get behind!
In 2015, Williams headed up a march through London in protest against the practice of hunting and capturing dolphins for captivity in Japan.
She performed a charity jump out of a plane at 15,000 feet in the same year for the cause.
"I will be jumping out of a perfectly good, working airplane at 15,000ft to raise awareness for @Dolphin_Project," Williams wrote on her crowdrise page. "Seriously debating whether I should just quit this acting thing and become a skydiver."
Williams was also a signatory in 2019 of an open letter urging Vladimir Putin to release dozens of captive whales from a so-called 'whale jail' in Srednyaya Bay.
“We commend the action you have taken so far to block the export of these amazing beings …. and fully support the Russian initiative to implement a permanent ban on capture of Russian orcas and beluga whales,” the letter states. “We would like to ask you to take several important steps for the welfare of the remaining whales in the sea pens … [and] return the orcas and beluga whales to the Sea of Okhotsk and their birth populations when feasible.” It continues, “The world is waiting for a happy ending.”
One unfortunate consequence of being famous and outspoken in today's world is that social media bullying inevitably seems to come with the territory.
Some people will be horrible for the sake of being horrible, feeling they are safe from rebukes behind their computer screens.
While she's a popular social media presence, with millions of followers on Twitter and Instagram, Williams has been vocal about the dark side of her online experience, too.
In a 2018 Guardian interview, Williams said she experienced online bullying "on a bigger scale" than the average person, something that left her "really bitter about life and people".
Williams was so affected that she even starred in a 2015 TV film about cyberbullying called Cyberbully.
“I was horrible too – I started sending horrible things back. But when you’re 13 and someone says something nasty you don’t want to ignore them. You want to hurt them like they’ve hurt you. You get in to this bitchy cycle. Now I look back and think why did you even bother? But it’s easy to say that now I’ve matured and I’ve figured out what I want
Speaking about the film, Williams said: "I've been on a train, right next to my mum with my phone in my hand, scrolling through constant abuse...and feeling completely on my own."
“We see that even though you can have six million friends on Facebook, you can still feel very alone. We see that even if you’re the nicest person in the world, if someone can take the power of your laptop and use the stuff that you have on there against you, you can be made out to be someone completely different. It’s basically one big learning curve for her. Everything can be twisted and used against you.
The pressure and negativity of social media has been a key concern of Williams' throughout her career.
Rather than put up with the angry comments and hate messages, however, Williams has been fighting back.
Can you really imagine the girl who plays Arya Stark to sit there and do nothing about it?
In response to her social media experience, Williams recently launched a positive-thinking social media app of her own with business partner Dom Santry.
Daisie, a social media app for people who want to break into creative industries, was designed by Williams and Santry to encourage users to work together to create.
There's absolutely no chance of being cyber-bullied on this app!
The idea behind Daisie, says Williams, is also for creatives from more humble backgrounds like herself to build a list of contacts from scratch.
“I couldn’t be happier about the change we are currently seeing in creative industries and the movement towards women becoming truly valued,” said Maisie Williams, in a statement about the app’s development.
“I want Daisie to give other creatives the opportunities that I was lucky enough to receive at the beginning of my career. Daisie will break down the archaic gap between youth and creative jobs; offering new opportunities for individuals to collaborate, learn and create – establishing a new way for talented individuals to be discovered and employed,” she said.
#Mophie isn't just a Game of Thrones fan's dream - Maisie Williams and Sophie Turner really do have a relationship close enough to earn their own hashtag.
In a 2017 interview, Turner told Business Insider: "She's my best friend, she's my soulmate.
I love that girl to pieces". But was she at her wedding to Joe Jonas though? (the answer is no, so they can't be that close.)
Williams thinks so too, having referred to Turner as "my best friend" and spoken at length about the close relationship that has developed from their decade of working together.
Williams told Glamour magazine in 2019: "Whenever I'm like, 'I need help! This is bigger than anything I can sort out on my own,' Sophie is my point of call."
The pair even have matching tattoos.
Talking of tattoos, before the final season of Game of Thrones, Sophie Turner had to shut down speculation that a tattoo she got after finishing production was a massive spoiler for the show.
The tattoo features the Direwolf of House Stark, with the words "The pack survives."
“The pack survives”—explaining that it is simply a nod to the Stark family maxim, “When the snows fall and the white winds blow, the lone wolf dies but the pack survives,” and not a spoiler.
“It’s just a quote from last season,” she told Corden. “Everyone figures that the pack really does survive, but it’s just a moral that I like to live by.”
Let it never be said that Maisie Williams hasn't put the effort in to play Arya Stark.
A minor detail in George RR Martin's books - that Arya is left-handed - convinced the right-handed Williams to learn how to do things southpaw.
Now I've tried writing left handed, and that's difficult enough. I can't imagine learning how to sword fight with the wrong hand.
Williams says that she began learning after her mum informed her that Arya was left-handed in A Song of Ice and Fire.
Williams would from then on often practice "in the garden and things I would do left-handed just to feel that rhythm".
Watch the show closely, and you can see Arya even fights and wields a sword left-handed.
However, not everything could be done left-handed like she wanted to.
"Unfortunately, when it came to filming, sometimes I have to do things right-handed because of the camera angle and things like that. So some people are a bit annoyed that Arya hasn't done everything left-handed. I wanted to. I really did. But sometimes it was just too tricky and we couldn't do it."
It wasn't just you: Maisie Williams didn't expect Arya would end up sharing a sex scene with Gendry in Game of Thrones' final season, either.
In fact, Williams was so shocked by the scene when she read it, she assumed Thrones showrunners DB Weiss and David Benioff were playing a practical joke on her.
To be honest, that must have been the sentiment of many of the cast when they read the scripts for the final season.
"At first, I thought it was a prank. I was like, 'Yo, good one'", Williams told Entertainment Weekly.
"And [Weiss and Benioff were] like, 'No, we haven’t done that this year.' Oh f***!"
So yes, the Gendry and Arya sex scene, just like the one between Brienne and Jaime, were all real (well, real fictionally.)
Williams later tweeted: "If u feel uncomfortable just know that my mother and my stepdad and my 2 sisters and my 4 brothers have all probably watched this too".
To be fair on the character, what else would you do if a giant army of undead people were marching towards you?
This could have been her last night on earth (or whatever the Westerosi equivalent of earth is.)
Thanks to Game of Thrones, everybody knows the name Maisie Williams - though that isn't what the Bath girl is really called.
Though she goes by Maisie in both private and public life, Williams was actually christened Margaret Constance Williams.
That's a bit of a mouthful don't you think?
Not unlike GoT co-star Kit Harington, however, Williams has rarely ever gone by her birth name.
Instead, Williams has been referred to by the nickname Maisie for as long as she can remember.
We can imagine she is only called Margaret when she is being told off.
Nicknamed by her family after the precocious Maisie in the cartoon strip The Perishers, Williams later carried the nickname over to her professional acting moniker, too.
Maisie isn't the only famous actor who uses a different name in public.
Other famous examples include Elton John (Reginald Dwight) and Miley Cyrus (Destiny Hope Cyrus)
Despite all those months spent away from home filming Game of Thrones, Williams has never lost touch with her roots.
Coming from a big family with three older siblings, Williams has always remained closest to her mum.
There's nothing quite like the love and advise of a mother is there?
So close, in fact, that the pair, according to Williams, can't go a day without speaking to one another.
Furthermore, Williams put Mum on her payroll, making her both manager and personal assistant.
Usually it is the parents that have to financially support their children, but not in the case of Maisie.
Williams' mother, Hilary Pitt Frances, actually quit her job in university administration to work at her daughter's side.
We can imagine that with the pay-packet Maisie received per episode in the last couple of seasons (well over £100,000 per episode. The top tier actors were on around $500,000 per ep) more than covered her mother's salary, and then some.
Though she bears his surname, Maisie Williams has never had much of a relationship with her father.
Williams' parents divorced when she was very young, leaving her with a lasting distaste for marriage ("I’m never going to get married...my view on marriage is that it’s extremely pointless").
We guess her costar and best friend, Sophie Turner, doesn't share the same views.
After her parents' split, Williams was raised by her mother and stepdad, with her father hardly featuring in her life.
Williams made this clear on Father's Day, 2015, when she tweeted: "Happy Father's Day to my mother who played both roles for me growing up".
That's quite some shade she has thrown at her real father (this shade will be handy when she appears as a guest judge on the upcoming British version of Drag Race.)
Williams also used Father's Day to pay tribute to her stepdad, while in a 2014 interview with Vulture she declared "I would rather be a Pitt", referring to her mother's surname.
She goes on to say: "My dad’s name is Williams, and my mom’s new married name is Frances, but she was a Pitt, which is her maiden name. Had I just been a Pitt the whole time, then that whole thing, changing names wouldn’t be necessary. In my opinion, nothing changes after you get married. If ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Maybe when I fall in love, I’ll change my mind, but right now? It just makes it harder to break up. You can’t just leave. I’d never want to be trapped. I never like to stay in one place too long. I always flit around, I never settle anywhere. So being married would be being trapped.
Unsurprisingly a fan of strong women, Maisie Williams' ultimate role model is none other than one of her Game of Thrones co-stars.
Despite the fact that she plays Williams' sworn enemy on the show, Lena Headey is actually Williams' fave.
Cersei is one of the character on Arya's kill list, and indeed that's what she sets out to do in the final episodes of the series. Fortunately, the Hound changes her mind and encourages her to fleet the crumbling Kings Landing.
In 2014, Williams told the Guardian she thought Headey represented the perfect balance between personal life and working life.
"She's a fantastic actress but she doesn’t live in the limelight. I never see headlines about her."
This is true, the only headlines about Headey in recent times have all been Game of Thrones related (like when a body double was used for her walk of shame scenes.)
Williams added that she thought Headey had "just cracked it - I don't want to be on the pages of Hello! magazine."
Headey directed the music video to Freya Riding's song 'You Mean the World To Me,' which features Maisie Williams.
“I hope to do something together with her in the future. Maisie is a genius — she doesn’t need much direction,” she said of the experience.
Almost none of the young 'newcomers' who made their names on Game of Thrones were really new to acting at all.
Kit Harington began his career on stage in War Horse, Emilia Clarke had the 2010 SyFy TV movie Triassic Attack, while Richard Madden had made his film debut all the way back in 2000.
They all had a little bit of experience under their belt.
On the other hand Maisie Williams, like 'siblings' Sophie Turner and Isaac Hempstead Wright, had never appeared on-screen before.
Though Williams had previously auditioned for Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang, Game of Thrones was the first acting role she ever got.
We really can't imagine anyone else in the role of Arya other than Maisie.
In 2011, Williams told WinterIsComing.net that being turned down for Nanny McPhee 2 almost put her off auditioning again, but that "all auditions are good experience so I went along and after the first audition in London I knew I wanted to be Arya."
At a talk at the acting school, Central St Martin's, Williams revealed how a story about bowling balls helped her bag her first acting gig.
“During an improvised acting workshop I met a woman called Louise Johnson. She gave me the words ‘bowling ball’ and asked me to create a short scene inspired by those words. After making her laugh with a fictional story about how I threw a bowling ball at my brother and it bounced, she asked me to join her acting agency.”
Not content with just inventing and running a new social media app, Williams also has a film production company all of her own.
Along with Dom Santry, who also worked with Williams on Daisie, Williams runs Daisy Chain Productions.
Maisie is a girl who clearly doesn't like putting all of her eggs in one basket.
The company, built to develop and produce TV and film, was set up when Williams was just 19-years-old.
"I want to give other people the opportunity to make incredible things," Williams told Highsnobiety in 2017.
“There are so many members of my generation that have all the talent and just no platform.”
Daisy Chain has already made its first film, a 2018 short called Stealing Silver, that was produced by and stars Williams.
The film's synopsis reads: A woman confronting a painful time in her life after she discovers the truth about a mysterious old man living across from her.
It currently has a 7.3 rating on IMDB.
Maisie Williams and Son of Rambow star Bill Milner have a few things in common: with both having acted professionally since they were 12, they've also been in their fair share of blockbuster productions.
Williams has Game of Thrones, and Milner has Dunkirk and X-Men: First Class, while both have iBoy, which the duo starred in in 2017.
It makes sense, then, that these two up-and-coming Brit (former child) actors would choose to be roomies.
Milner, who also founded Daisy Chain Productions along with Williams and Santry, recently revealed he and the Thrones star had been living together with a telling tweet.
We can't think of many floors of living with Arya Stark, but Santry sure makes a good point.
Following the spoiler-friendly s8 ep3, Milner took to Twitter to write:
"You all think it’s hard avoiding #GameofThrones spoilers? Try living with Arya."
"I’m dodging them in my own goddamn kitchen."
I guess things are a little easier now that the fate of Westeros has been sealed.
If there's one thing Game of Thrones fans hate about Game of Thrones, it's the need to watch the show ASAP/completely avoid all media until then in order to avoid spoilers.
For a true fan, having even minor Game of Thrones details spoiled is heresy - which is why Maisie Williams' 2019 April Fool's prank was so amusing.
For Game of Thrones fans watching, the horror that they had just been spoiled was very real.
It was April 1st, and Williams had showed up on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon to talk the upcoming final season.
Before anyone knew what was happening, Williams accidentally let slip a huge spoiler - "When I found out that Arya died in like the second episode..." - to audible gasps from the audience.
Had Maisie just dropped one of the most massive bombshells in history?
This was later revealed to be just an April Fool's gag, thankfully for any Game of Thrones fans watching in horror.
"You were so good. We got you guys so bad. Maisie Williams everybody," Jimmy Kimmel said as they emerged from back behind the curtains.
Could you imagine the wrath of HBO if the spoiler was genuine?
Once production on a film or TV show has wrapped, it's not unheard of for cast members to take props home with them.
Maisie Williams, on the other hand, has been lifting bits and pieces from the Game of Thrones set seemingly from day one.
We guess it's in Arya's character to be a little bit sneaky.
In a 2015 Esquire interview, Williams revealed she had amassed a sizeable faceless man coin collection ("I have no idea where they went") while also eyeing up Needle ("I'm hoping to steal one in the future").
Add to this a breakable prop stick Arya used to hit Joffrey in season one, and Williams has herself a veritable treasure trove of Thrones memorabilia.
In a 2018 interview with BBC Radio One, meanwhile, Williams admitted she had taken a favourite leather jacket from the GoT wardrobe department.
So there you go folks, 20 things you didn't know about Maisie Williams.
We're sad that Game of Thrones has come to an end, but there's plenty to look forwards to from the cast of the show.
As we said previously in the article, Maisie Williams can be next seen in the upcoming X-Men film "The New Mutants" whilst her best friend, Sophie Turner, currently stars in X-Men: Dark Phoenix, which is in cinemas now!