Maisie Williams reveals what it was like shooting Arya's sex scene with Gendry on last night's 'Game of Thrones'
Last night's episode of Game of Thrones took place entirely in Winterfell, where most of the characters have congregated to stop the army of the dead. On the eve before war, Jaime Lannister knighted Brienne of Tarth, Jon Snow told Daenerys Targaryen about his real parents, and Tormund Giantsbane shared his ridiculous origin story. (I hope Game of Thrones releases a protein drink called "Giant's Milk.")
But perhaps the most talked about scene on social media? Arya Stark riding Gendry Baratheon's dragon. With the White Walkers expected to arrive at sunrise, Arya realizes she might die, and wants to see what this whole "sex" thing is all about. So, she pursues her crush, expert blacksmith and rowing enthusiast, Gendry, the surviving bastard son of King Robert Baratheon.
Some viewers loved the steamy sex scene, while others flipped out faster than Samwell Tarly at a book burning. After all, when Maisie Williams was ten years old when she first appeared on Game of Thrones. Now she's 20, and has grown up in front of our eyes, transforming into a young woman. HBO reminded viewers that the TV version of Arya is 18, and therefore an adult, but to many she's still little Arya.
Joe Dempsie, who plays Gendry, told Entertainment Weekly that shooting the sex scene was a little awkward, since he's a decade older than Maisie. "It’s obviously slightly strange for me because I’ve known Maisie since she was 11, 12 years old," Dempsie said. "At the same time, I don’t want to be patronizing toward Maisie — she’s a 20-year-old woman. So we just had a lot of fun with it."
When the cast received the scripts for season eight, Sophie Turner, who plays Sansa Stark, read through them at lightning speed. When she came across Arya and Gendry's surprise scene, she immediately called her friend Maisie. "Sophie said, 'Whatever you do, you have to skip to this episode, this scene first,'" Williams told EW. "So I just read that and it was practically all I knew about the entire season.”
In the past, showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss pranked the cast by including bogus scenes in scripts. For example, in season one, they sent a script to Kit Harington where his character, Jon Snow, gets his face hideously disfigured. As a result, Williams was suspicious. "At first, I thought it was a prank," she recounted. “I was like, ‘Yo, good one.’ And [the showrunners were] like, ‘No, we haven’t done that this year.’ Oh fuck!"
Watch Kit Harington gag while kissing Emilia Clarke on set
"I got to the read-through and I’m reading the scene and thought, ‘Oh, we’re actually going to do this. When do I shoot this? I need to go to the gym! ... David [Benioff] and Dan [Weiss] were like: ‘You can show as much or as little as you want. So I kept myself pretty private. I don’t think it’s important for Arya to flash. This beat isn’t really about that. And everybody else has already done it on the show, so…"
Watch a preview for next Sunday's episode of Game of Thrones
When it came time for Arya and Gendry to do the deed, the actress understandably felt awkward on set. "No one wants to make you feel uncomfortable, which kind of makes you feel more uncomfortable, because no one wants to look at anything that they shouldn’t look at, which in turn makes you feel like you look awful!" Williams said.
Despite the acting challenges, though, she appreciated the scene because it revealed something new about the character. "It was really interesting because it’s a very human relationship for Arya," Williams concluded. "This is something she’s stayed away from, an emotion we’ve never really seen her engage with. It’s interesting to see Arya be a bit more human, speak more normally about things people are scared of."