*Game of Thrones spoilers ahead, naturally*
Now that Game of Thrones has come to an end, fans and cast members alike are divulging every last detail. While some fans have spent the last week whining about the outcome, others with equally high expectations, including Maisie Williams, decided to delve deeper into the minds of these characters in order to understand the finale.
During an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Williams admitted that initially, she had hoped Arya would be given the chance to kill her biggest rival, Cersei Lannister. “I just wanted to be on set with Lena again, she’s good fun,” Williams said when asked about her biggest Season 8 regret. “And I wanted Arya to kill Cersei even if it means [Arya] dies too. Even up to the point when Cersei’s with Jaime I thought [while reading the script], ‘He’s going to whip off his face [and reveal its Arya]’ and they’re both going to die. I thought that’s what Arya’s drive has been.”
However, after dwelling on her character's outcome further, she realized that the skilled assassin Arya had become was no longer fighting as a lone wolf. “The Hound says, ‘You want to be like me? You want to live your life like me?’” Williams explains. “In my head, the answer was: ‘Yeah.’ But I guess sleeping with Gendry, seeing Jon again, realizing she’s not just fighting for herself anymore but also her family — it’s bringing up all these human emotions that Arya hasn’t felt for a long time. When The Hound asks her if she has another option, all of a sudden there are so many more things in [Arya’s] life that she can live for, that she can do. It was a shock for me because that wasn’t how I envisioned her arc going this year. Then I realized there were other things I could play, bringing Arya back to being a 16-year-old again.”
The actress then notes that although it's not a "Game of Thrones ending for Arya" the character did enjoy a "happy ending," against all odds. “It gave me a place to take Arya that I never thought I’d go with her again,” Williams said.
In terms of the onscreen Arya-Cersei rivalry, Lena Headey, who plays the villainous monarch, also wanted the chance to shoot alongside Williams in the final season. The actress told Entertainment Weekly that she expected Cersei's ultimate downfall to be at the hands of Arya, which may be part of the reason why the writers decided against it.
“I lived that fantasy until I read the script,” Headey explained. “There were chunky scenes and it was nothing that I had dreamt about. It was a bit of come down and you have to accept that it wasn’t to be. There is something poetic about the way it all happens in the end with her and Jaime.”