How Old Was Maisie Williams When ‘Game of Thrones’ Started?

Hiring a child actor for Game of Thrones nine years ago must have required a long string of clearances so the actor could participate. As one of the most adult and complex shows in TV history, the idea of a small child acting on the show has probably always been problematic. Not that they have a lot of young children on the show, other than a select few. Sure, there are the Children of the Forest, but they aren’t really played by children anyway.

Maisie Williams was perhaps one of the youngest when she was hired for Game of Thrones at the beginning of this decade. One of the most startling things about Williams is she had no professional acting experience when winning the part of Arya Stark.

You’ll be surprised at how young she was when starting and how young she still is.

Why Maisie Williams is perfect to play Arya Stark

Maisie WIlliams
Maisie WIlliams | Jeff Spicer/Getty Images

It’s rare to find someone who has a natural acting talent for something so mammoth as Game of Thrones, yet Williams won the role of Arya out of 300 other candidates. According to some recent profiles of the actress, she’s been described as an effortless actress, something very much needed to bring believable qualities to Arya.

At the time she was hired, she was only about 14 years old, making her the youngest of the main actors. Her tomboy persona helped considerably in keeping up with the descriptions from George R.R. Martin’s books.

Whether Williams really is a tomboy or not, her performance blew everyone away with the knowledge she had no experience (other than some brief performing arts training). While Game of Thrones wasn’t really made for teens, any of them watching with their parents likely found much to relate to with the Arya character.

For any teen going through angst or other troubles in life, Arya became an emblem for the ultimate survival at all costs.

Fans have watched Maisie Williams grow up on the show

Eight years is an eternity when a teenager working on a TV series. The fact that Williams’ formative years were basically spent on Game of Thrones, you have to wonder what this does to someone psychologically.

She wisely worked on some other projects so Game of Thrones wouldn’t start to blur the line between reality and fantasy. Offers for acting in movies came in, with most of those projects produced in Britain. Soon, she’ll be acting in more American films like Marvel’s upcoming (and delayed) The New Mutants.

Other television projects occurred during Game of Thrones‘s run, most notably a brief guest-starring turn playing the immortal Ashildr on Doctor Who. Many fans of the latter show wanted Williams to continue this role. No doubt she received word around this time she’d play an important role on Game of Thrones by slaying the Night King.

What’s the outlook for Maisie Williams beyond ‘Game of Thrones’?

Having to resume your career after acting your teen years away on one of the most popular shows of all time is no easy task. Williams is only 22 years old now, a still very young age for an actress trying to navigate new horizons.

Project offers are obviously flooding in, though the immediate thought is always the potential of typecasting. Thanks to her other past TV and movie work, she’s proven she doesn’t have to fit into just sci-fi or fantasy projects. Look at her filmography so far and you’ll see it’s more diverse than American audiences may know.

There’s something in the blood of British actors in being able to diversify better than many American counterparts. It’s not hyped to say Williams was basically an acting prodigy who managed to bring a new twist to a teenager role on television. No matter if some complaint about the left field turn on Game of Thrones with the Night King’s death, Williams more or less reinvented the female hero on television.