Working by 12 and famous at 15, the former ‘Game Of Thrones’ star has been bossing Hollywood for a decade. But what do you do when the biggest TV show ever, the one that changed your life, finally comes to an end?
It felt like The Hunger Games,” Maisie Williams says down the line from Paris, where she’s been spending lockdown. “Everything was at stake.”
Weirdly, the tense experience she’s recalling isn’t from Game Of Thrones, the series that thrust her into the limelight as ruthless assassin Arya Stark. Instead, Williams is telling NME about a lighthearted backstage face-off between cast members on the set of Sky’s new comedy series Two Weeks To Live. The contest in question? Not a physical brawl but, erm, singing Celine Dion’s ‘My Heart Will Go On’ at the top of their lungs.
“It felt like ‘The Hunger Games… everything was at stake”
“We had to stand up one at a time in the green room and belt it out,” the 23-year-old actor explains. “You couldn’t laugh – and it was just really uncomfortable. If someone actually tried and did a good job, it was even more uncomfortable. If someone actually tried and did a good job, it was even more uncomfortable. Endless fun! But we had to stop in the end because I could tell the crew were like, ‘Shut up, this is so annoying’.”
The jokey atmosphere behind-the-scenes reflects what we see on screen – the show has an infectious and addictively funny tone that makes it a prime candidate for your next feel-good binge-watch. In her first TV role since Thrones, Williams stars as Kim, daughter to paranoid and overprotective – but also quite badass – mum Tina (Fleabag’s Sian Clifford). She’s kept Kim, now in her early 20s, in almost total isolation for most of her life, in a hut in rural Scotland. Her daily chores are a little unusual – doing the dishes doesn’t quite compare to having to disembowel dinner – and instead of vitamins, she takes “pollution pills” from a translucent green box. Normal, everyday things like music, movies and going down the pub barely feature. Until halfway through the series, Kim genuinely thinks Gloria Gaynor’s ‘I Will Survive’ is a poem her mum penned for her 21st birthday.
Like Kim, Williams had quite an unusual childhood. She auditioned for Game Of Thrones at 12, was a recognizable star by 15, and then had to deal with the fallout. She ended up being homeschooled for her last couple of years of high school because of the bullying she received from classmates. The joke’s on them, though, because since then Williams has gone from promising child actor to one of Britain’s best bright young things. She’s beloved by the fashion world, is trying to help other young people without industry connections get a leg up through her app Daisie, and post-Thrones has already made some exciting moves in her on-screen career.
Perhaps her experiences with fame – particularly at such a young age – make running off to a hut in the middle of nowhere more attractive. Williams reckons she’d manage with Kim and Tina’s off-the-grid lifestyle, which isn’t too dissimilar from the quarantine living many of us have been doing recently. “I think I would cope OK,” she says. “I’d need to be really warm and so would Sian – she has this thing where if her hands get too cold, she passes out. So we’d need a big, roaring fire cos it would be freezing and then we’d be OK.” She wouldn’t miss anything else? Not Netflix, Spotify or Instagram? “I guess I’d probably miss Deliveroo,” she concedes. “I hate cooking.”
The boys invite her back to their house for more drinks and end up in a hypothetical conversation about what they would do if they knew they had only two weeks left to live – have lots of sex and eat tons of doughnuts is the consensus. Jay, in a bid to set up Kim and the recently dumped Nicky, decides to prank the naive newcomer with some cleverly edited video footage that shows a massive nuclear explosion that has set Earth’s remaining lifespan to just one more fortnight. Where most people would instantly see through the stunt, Kim – raised to believe the end times are imminent – jumps into her beaten up Jeep and heads off to kill Jimmy (Sean Pertwee) – the man who murdered her dad in front of her when she was a child.
“[During filming], I got a bottle on the head a couple of times, which was really painful”
Williams is no stranger to nailing stunts and Two Weeks To Live lets her pick up her fighting skills from where she left off in Westeros, but this time there are fewer swords involved and more household furniture. As she brawls with Jimmy through his flashy pad, tables, walls, chairs and pillows become tools of revenge. Not every stunt in the high-octane sequences went according to plan though. “I got a bottle on the head a couple of times, which was really painful,” she laughs. “I also kicked Sean in the mouth and made his mouth bleed so I think we were even after that.”
Aside from the badass blow-ups and edge-of-your-seat drama, the show is also genuinely funny, often in a very meta way. Dialogue between characters regularly breaks down for them to deconstruct their exchanges. For example, when Kim first makes her way into Jimmy’s house and confronts him, they swap puns around the idea of the Grim Reaper, pausing their fraught battle to congratulate themselves on how “organic” the back-and-forth was.
Where’s the first place you’d go in a strange place? Well, the pub of course.
Comedy isn’t something Williams is entirely new to – she appeared in short film The Olympic Ticket Scalper in 2012 and homegrown dramedy Gold in 2014 – but she’s never been so immersed in the genre as she is here. “It was completely out of my comfort zone, I was really nervous,” she says. “I’ve known that I wanted to do comedy, but actually doing it…
“The longer it went on without me doing comedy, the more terrifying it was. [Working on Two Weeks To Live] was quite intimidating, especially because Taheen and Mawaan are so unbelievably funny, but I think we pulled it off.”
“The longer it went on without me doing comedy, the more terrifying it was”
For the young star, stepping out of her comfort zone has become increasingly important. “That’s basically all I want to do from now onwards,” she says. “I think that so much great work comes from being super uncomfortable – as an actor, obviously, not for everyone. But when you’re pushed to some sort of emotional extreme in real life then, when you’re on camera, it just creates some crazy magic that you can’t fake. It’s just real.”
Surprisingly, given the nature of her career, Williams says she finds it “very hard to pretend” so being put in elevated states of emotion is key for her building believable characters on screen. “I always tend to draw on very real things that have happened in my life,” she says of her technique, but notes that it’s also a flawed approach. “It’s a very painful thing to do but, ultimately, is the way that it works for me. Being able to tap into things like that is difficult unless your senses are already heightened.”
“I don’t think I’m gonna be part of anything that’s seen by that many people again”
As with most people, the pandemic has left Williams’ next steps undetermined. She’s already completed work on action thriller movie The Owners and long-delayed X-Men spin-off The New Mutants hits cinemas next Friday (September 4). Two Weeks To Live hasn’t yet been announced for a second season but, if it is, the actor has plenty of ideas for what Kim could get up to next.
“I think that her little mind would be completely blown by so many things,” she laughs. “I’d love to see her experiencing tribute acts. They’re so weird and we don’t think they are. First of all, she’d have to be introduced to Elvis Presley or whoever and then she’d have to understand that he’s dead and this person is just acting like him. It just makes no sense. Or I’d love to see her looking at doll’s houses.”
They are, according to the actor, also “really bizarre”. “The fact that we keep houses in our houses that are full of really tiny things?” she says. “People actually put in wiring and plumbing and shit like that, it’s just so extra. Kim really does call everything out, like, ‘Why do we do this? It’s so strange.’”
She has a point but there’s a deeper message behind her character that feels very relevant to the time we’re living through now. “I want people to take from it that this world that we live in and this society that we’ve built is so incredibly flawed,” she says, becoming serious again. “It’s OK to think that – and life doesn’t have to be taken so seriously because it’s all completely bonkers anyway.” As her Celine Dion sing-offs show, Williams is already living up to that sentiment.
In her latest role, as a vengeful girlfriend in the gruesome thriller “The Owners,” Williams isn’t afraid to get down and dirty in the name of survival. The ’90s-set movie — directed by Julius Berg and written by Berg and Matthieu Gompel — follows childhood friends who break in and attempt to rob their elderly neighbor’s empty mansion. But when the owners come home earlier than expected, chaos ensues.
“I liked the script and I liked that it was set in the ’90s,” Williams says. “I just thought doing a psychological thriller would be really good fun. I’ve always loved the genre.”
Before “The Owners” is released digitally and in theaters on Sept. 4, Williams will hit the big screen in the superhero epic “The New Mutants.” After two years of delays, the final chapter in the “X-Men” franchise is premiering on Aug. 28.
One perk of the pandemic, Williams says, is getting to promote projects from the comfort of her house in the U.K. In the last few weeks, she’s made rounds on the late-night circuit with virtual appearances on “The Tonight Show” and “The Late Late Show With James Corden.” She does occasionally miss the glitz and glam involved with dressing up for TV interviews and Hollywood premieres, but she’s mostly relieved she doesn’t have to think twice about lounging in her favorite pair of sweats.
“I find live appearances to be quite nerve wracking, so doing these live shows from your own home is really lovely, actually,” the 23-year-old British actress says. “Even now that I started leaving the house a bit more, I don’t know that I’m ever going to wear jeans again.”
Ahead of her next two movies, Williams spoke to Variety about “New Mutants” finally being released after many, many delays, her post-“Game of Thrones” career and the hobbies she’s picked up in quarantine.
How did filming an indie movie like “The Owners” compare to big studio productions like “Game of Thrones” or “New Mutants”?
It never really feels that different. “New Mutants” was an exception, but that was because we filmed in the States, and I feel like the money spent on food in America is so much more than we do in the U.K. It’s also rare that your heater in your trailer really works in the U.K., whereas in the U.S., there’s a running shower and hot water and a little incense stick.
Otherwise, it’s like you’re always pushed for time. You always could be filming for longer. It’s always stressful days. Everyone isn’t getting paid anywhere near as much, and so people are kind of just doing it more for the art of it. And I think that has a real difference on set. Creativity can really flourish when there’s less time and more pressure and less of a budget.
“New Mutants” was delayed so many times over the last two years. Did you ever reach a point where you thought it wouldn’t open in theaters?
I knew that they spent $80 million on it, so I thought, if this movie never comes out, that is such a huge waste of money that really could have made a huge impact in the world. I’m so glad that it is coming out, finally. I hope that people enjoy it. I did definitely think in the middle that maybe it would go straight to streaming. But it’s going to come out in the theater, so I hope that maybe we’ll get a good turnout. I don’t know if anyone’s really going outside.
How do you feel about people going to see it in movie theaters during a pandemic?
I just hope that people wear masks and that cinemas are clean. I know there is quite an intense cleaning that happens in between films anyway. So I would hope that the extra precautions can be knitted in fairly easily to the viewing schedule. But I just hope people are safe. If people don’t feel comfortable, don’t go watch it. It’s going to come out on DVD at some point, you can watch it then.
Did you know from the start that your character Rahne in “New Mutants” would be part of a same-sex romance?
I knew in the comics, the two characters Dani and Rahne had a telepathic connection. When I was speaking with [director] Josh [Boone], he was like, “We’re going to amp that up into a romantic relationship” — which I thought made a lot of sense anyway. If you could actually read someone’s mind, I think that’s kind of what love is — being able to detect someone’s body language and understand how they’re feeling and try to make them feel better, even if you’re in a social setting. If these two characters do have a telepathic connection, I think that is kind of synonymous with love.
I think it’s really important to have a relationship like this at the forefront of a superhero movie or any kind of action movie. I love that a relationship like that is normalized in a film of this scale. I don’t think it’s even labeled at all, and I don’t think the girls ever even ask each other out. They just fall in love when they first meet each other.
Now that Disney owns 20th Century Fox, would you ever want to revisit your X-Men character in a Marvel movie?
Potentially. I think it’s a standard thing with a lot of studios now. If you sign on for one film, they write it in [the contracts] that they can do sequels or they can bring you back for other pictures. I would be excited to play Rahne again. I mean, who knows? I love this story. I think these characters are really interesting for the youth of today to see. And if the movie does well, I would happily come back and do more. It’s up to the people I guess. If teenagers hate it, we will leave it here. But if they liked it, then I wouldn’t deprive anyone of that.
What kind of roles are you interested in?
A lot of the stuff that I’ve done recently has been in an alternate world, and I miss the honesty of playing a girl who isn’t a mutant or she’s not saving the world. I [want to play] a complex woman of now and today. I think these films lack some kind of vulnerability, and I really crave to feel vulnerable on set. There’s a real comfort in doing something that has a lot of effects or blood because there’s so many other things to distract the audience from you. But doing something which is more raw is something that I’m craving at the moment.
After “Game of Thrones,” did you worry about being typecast?
It was never a worry, but it is something that could happen very easily. I’ve always felt so confident that I have a lot of other things to give. If I knew that was all I could do, that is probably all I would do for the rest of my career. And people will happily cast me as similar characters to Arya or Rahne, and that’s very easy for me to do and there’s a lot of that available to me. But I’m really interested in changing people’s opinions of me and showing people all of the other sides to myself that I can bare on screen. I think that’s already happening. I’ve had a lot of really lovely meetings during this lockdown, which have made me feel very excited for the future.
How have you been keeping busy during the pandemic? Have you taken up any new hobbies?
I started learning French, which is going really well. I’ve always wanted to learn other languages, honestly, so I started with French. I’ve been painting and reading and I’ve had a lot of free time, so I just tried to do things that made me really happy. I have found it to be a really meditative and joyful few months of my life.
Two of the most influential twenty-somethings in cinema and fashion take on the role of comic book icons.
Like the characters in The New Mutants , a new superhero film in which they star, Anya Taylor-Joy and Maisie Williams who head their line-up have little to do, at least initially, except for some aspects: they are both considered it girls by coined Recently, they have legions of followers who leave their mark on social networks and they are both aware that “entering a film franchise like this, within the Marvel universe, gives you a great exposure that is always beneficial and that, unlike the series, it is not an annual obligation, but there can be interruptions of two or three years between films, so it is not so regulated, “according to Williams.
“And also, says Taylor – Joy, for me, who has worked a lot in independent films where the most important thing is the character, this is a completely atypical superhero movie. I’ve seen some in which the characters don’t tell me anything. The action is incredible and everything is spectacular, but I don’t really know who those guys are. That is why I was afraid to make a film of this type ”. But, in addition to being the superhero genre’s first foray into the realm of horror, the characters are so well drawn that they seem straight out of real life. They have all had a dark past and are far from perfect. So why not touch on those blemishes since that’s what makes them interesting?
For me, who has worked a lot in independent films where the most important thing is the character, this is a completely atypical superhero movie
What there is no doubt is that they are two of the most influential twenty-somethings in cinema and fashion, who, in addition, are enjoying that sweet moment that means having acquired two comic icons such as the always in conflict Poison Wolf and the teleporter witch Magic.
The first, Poison Wolf, is played by Williams, born in the British Bristol in 1997. Maisie’s is her baby nickname and is taken from a British comic strip. She is one of the most beloved actresses by seriophiles since she took over the difficult role of Arya Stark at the age of 14 in the now legendary Game of Thrones , which has earned her two Emmy nominations, and that, as she tells Often, “I was feisty, rebellious, a bit of a tomboy, quick-thinking. And sometimes she sees everything very black and white. I mean, how am I really ”. Just over five feet tall, full of energy.
Maisie Williams as Poison Wolf
Born in Bristol in 1997, at just 14 years old, she won the character of Arya Stark in ‘Game of Thrones’. In the cinema, her performances in ‘The secret of Crickley Hall’, ‘The falling’ or the recent ‘The owners’ in which she receives star treatment on the poster stand out. She has also appeared on television, in the mythical series’ Doctor Who ‘as a guest artist, in family comedies such as’ Gold’, alongside television star James Nesbitt, or lending her voice to characters from the series’ Robot Chicken ‘or’ Gen: Lock ‘. She will soon join the comic series ‘Two weeks to live’.
For eight years viewers were able to see her grow up before their eyes and stop being a girl with determination in her eyes, to become a young and valuable actress who seems to have much more future than past despite her excellent beginnings.
Gone are the bad personal moments that he experienced during his childhood as part of an unstructured family since his father decided not to be part of it and abandoned it, leaving his wife, an administrative profession, in charge of four children. Later, she developed a serious illness that has already been overcome and now she is enjoying the good time of her daughter, as her manager and personal assistant. But so many family problems, together with the popularity of the series, which he accessed after a brief stint at drama school, had serious consequences.
I endured ‘bulling’ for years. I think people were scared of me and although I made some friends at school, I was never popular or the pretty girl
“I endured bullying for years. I think people were scared of me and although I made some friends at school, I was never popular, nor was the pretty girl. That’s why I understood the character of Game of Thrones so well . Because, in a way, it was about finding out who your real friends are, and sometimes, realizing that takes a long time ”, he explained.
“And when the series started airing, I remember sitting on the subway next to my mom and navigating between messages, and messages, and more messages. My heart was lurching and I had a lump in my throat, like when you force yourself not to cry. I ended up hating myself for what others said about me on the networks. It was horrible. This also happens to the character Poison Wolf in The New Mutants. She is a teenager whose power is to become a wolf. That can upset you a lot. At those ages, in puberty, we do not have much confidence in ourselves and we are very vulnerable to the gaze of others. You don’t look like you really are. I preferred to create the character from this premise rather than what I read in the comics “
During the time that Game of Thrones kept Maisie Williams visiting the living room of the houses of half the world, offers rained down to take advantage of the time between season and season and decided to fish in different fishing grounds. From the mandatory for every young actor in horror and mystery films, in titles such as The Secret of Crickley Hall , The Falling or the recent The Owners in which he receives star treatment on the poster, to science fiction, since he participated in the Mythical Doctor Who series as a guest artist, in family comedies like Gold, alongside television star James Nesbitt, or lending his voice to characters from the Robot Chicken series o Gen: Lock .
I feel like I grew up extremely fast working on ‘Game of Thrones’. I entered a world of adults in a perhaps somewhat abrupt way
“I feel like I grew up extremely fast working on Game of Thrones, ” he has often commented. “I entered a world of adults in a perhaps somewhat abrupt way. I could take a flight alone but not book a hotel because the regulations did not allow it because of my age. It was as if half I was older and the other half still a girl. But despite all these hassles, I never thought I needed a plan B , even though many of my friends advised me to do so. I understand, but I think if we spend a lot of time trying to figure out how it would be the alternative, we never really pursue our plan A. I can’t help it; I’ve always wanted to be the center of attention ”.
In that, in considering themselves feminists, both are more than in agreement, although also with nuances. “This movie, in my opinion, shows incredibly powerful women, but on opposite ends of the spectrum,” Arya concludes. “My character is a woman of action. She prefers to act and the world has made her very tough. And that is in real life. On the contrary, other female characters are much more empathetic. I interpret that there are many ways of approaching feminine power, from different perspectives, but with the same objective ”.
The “Game of Thrones” actress gets back into the skin of a wolf. This time she plays an X-Men in “The New Mutants”, a role she embroiders. An incisive and extraordinary woman, also off the screen.
Wolfsbane, Poison Wolf, is the new alter ego of the English star of “Game of Thrones”, who finally sees the premiere of the first role he recorded for the cinema after the end of the legendary HBO series. Due to the purchase of its production company, 20th Century Fox, by the giant Disney, its premiere has been delayed more than two years. There was even talk of a cursed movie, something that is not bad for this disturbing work of supernatural horror … The “X-Men” saga is back, but darker and more intriguing. And it’s cool.
Maisie, did you despair when you saw that the movie was never released?
A little, but I knew that it did not respond to an artistic theme, it had a lot to do with the merger of these two companies. Too bad, because the movie has gotten a bad reputation – people thought there was something wrong with it, but I honestly think it was affected by something that was out of our control. I’m proud that it is finally coming out and that the world can see it. Let’s see if you like it and we can record the trilogy of Marvel comics.
What’s so special about it?
We are not heroes, we are children trying to discover the world and I believe that today’s young people are going to identify with this story. And there is a lot of comedy in the characters. A priori, it is a movie for young people, but the background is for all audiences. There are many things about her that are progressive and new for a story of this type. We have seen many superhero movies and that “The New Mutants” is more than a thriller …
Disney announced that he wanted to make some changes, shoot new scenes, did he in the end?
No, they have not touched the final cut. They have kept the movie that Josh Boone wanted to make, his passionate vision and I am very happy. It’s just fantastic!
You play Rahne Sinclair aka Wolfsbane, what is she like? Do you have something in common with her?
She is a very nervous person, socially awkward and feels more comfortable and secure when she is a mutant, when she puts on the costume. The same thing happens to me: I find it much more difficult to be myself. When I’m doing interviews or appearing on television, I have a terrible time. In that sense we are very similar.
It’s a lot more fun being a mutant. Becoming a she-wolf is great, especially in social relationships (laughs). I choose Wolfsbane. Although Arya was feisty, rebellious, a bit tomboyish, quick-thinking. And sometimes she sees everything very black and white. I mean, how am I really?
What is it like to enter a Marvel franchise?
It gives you a great exposure that is always beneficial and that, unlike series, does not imply an annual obligation, but there may be interruptions of two or three years between films, so it is not as regulated. This is a completely atypical superhero movie. The characters are so well drawn that they seem straight out of real life. They have all had a dark past and are far from perfect. So why not touch on those blemishes since that’s what makes them interesting?
In “The New Mutants”, did you have as much connection with your companions as in the series?
We lived a very close relationship and we took care of each other. I hit it off with Blu Hunt (who plays Danielle Moonstar aka Mirage), we connect for life … it’s very important to on-screen chemistry. But I would repeat with everyone again. It is a lot of responsibility to make a film as big as this, a blockbuster, so we support each other as best we can.
Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark in “Game of Thrones”) and you are mutants now (she plays Jean Gray in “X-Men: Dark Phoenix”). Would you be excited to work together on a Marvel story?
I would love it, it would be great if the X-Men and the mutants crossed paths. It would be so much fun to be on screen with Sophie again! But I don’t decide, so I don’t know if it will happen. If we do, we will have the opportunity to enjoy together. It would be stupid if they didn’t try to meet us at the movies.
As a viewer, do you like horror and science fiction stories?
I enjoy scary movies and being a part of this thriller franchise is exciting. I like it because Josh Boone has created something new, different, and I will love to repeat.
Also as a spectator, would you change the controversial ending of “Game of Thrones”?
I am proud of what we did and I really enjoyed it. I took advantage of every second of the last year, because I didn’t want to regret anything or feel like I had missed something. As a viewer, I have very fond, sweet memories, being on set was like being with my family. And I will remember it for the rest of my life. When we finished, I was ready to say goodbye and happy that it was done.
What superpower would you like to have?
I always would have liked to fly … I waste a lot of time on airplanes and it is not good for the planet and the environment. If I could fly with a backpack on my back, it would improve the planet and it would be more fun
Do you regret not having a normal adolescence?
No, because I don’t know what my life would have been like if I had not participated in the series. I am intrigued by the idea of not being famous and I always wonder how things would have been. But I do not regret it, because I had one of the most incredible experiences and I learned a lot from having been working since I was very young. Growing up in the limelight was tough, but that doesn’t detract from the most incredible ten years of my life. I am excited about the doors that have opened for me now, at 23 years old and a lifetime ahead. I’m wondering what I want to do, because the possibilities are endless, but I want something bright and fun, a comedy, something like “Friends”. I don’t want anything more sad or traumatic (it has just been incorporated into the comic series ‘Two weeks to live’). Well I’m a budding screenwriter …
(Note: In 2016, the actress founded her own production company, Daisy Chain Productions, with Dom Santry and Bill Milner, with an eye toward shorts, stage performances, and television dramas by young people. “Stealing Silver” ( 2019) is her first short, starring herself).
Yes, together with my friend Dom Santry, a camera assistant I met while filming … It is a social media application to promote artistic creation. We wanted to create a place where like-minded young people could share their passion and help other people make it happen. No irrelevant content, no ads, no branding, just people. We started our 5 industries (film, fashion, photography, music and art) in August 2019. Dom encouraged me to start one of my dreams, I was sick of waiting for someone to give me a chance, so I did it myself . People are sick of waiting for someone to tell them that they are good enough. When I was 12, I auditioned for every theater school in London and didn’t get in. If “Game of Thrones” had not arrived, I would have thrown in the towel.
Do you think Arya is a good example for girls your age?
No, and I don’t know why the fans see him like that, because he goes around cutting people’s throats. But on the other hand it is true that we all want to be like Arya. Each person has their own list of people they would like to eliminate from this world … (laughs).
As a celebrity, you support causes such as feminism, animals, you fight against cyberbullying, does it surprise you how you can influence others?
Completely. There is a lot of pressure to always be a role model, especially when you are recognized by the whole world. But I can take advantage of it and do something that I really enjoy. It also has its negative side, of course, like hurting my friends on social networks … I try not to give it much importance, but it affects, of course. Having a constant feed in your pocket of what people think of you is tough. People have me in their sights and admire me, but they don’t let me go wrong. I endured bulling for years. I think people were scared of me and although I made some friends at school, I was never popular, nor was the pretty girl. That’s why I understood the character of Game of Thrones so well.
In fact, you say that you always see the negative side … how do you go about fighting it?
When you are so exposed, it is extremely difficult to like yourself, with so many photos … but in this last year I have changed my attitude and the way I see myself and the role of Wolfsbane has helped me a lot, it has empowered me. I was very shy and now I am very sure of my image and I try to reflect that security in the roles I do, in my life. I feel liberated and really very healthy.
At the centre of the new Sky One series Two Weeks To Live is a young misfit called Kim.
Taking on the role is Bristolian Maisie Williams, 23, who is famous the world over for playing Arya Stark in HBO series Game of Thrones, which she starred in from 2011 to 2019.
Asked whether there was a time when she herself has ever felt like a misfit, Williams doesn’t hesitate to bring up being a child star.
“You know, I was famous when I was 12 years old, and that makes you feel really weird!” she says, laughing.
Comedy drama Two Weeks To Live is very different to Game of Thrones – and, indeed, anything else on our screens right now.
We learn Kim was just a little girl when her father died in murky circumstances, and has since lived a remote rural life with her survivalist mother, Tina (Sian Clifford).
Now all grown up, she takes on a secret mission to honour her father’s memory – but has no idea the danger and chaos that awaits (clue: it involves Kim, Tina, and new pals Nicky (Mawaan Rizwan) and Jay (Taheen Modak), on the run from murderous gangsters and the police).
Luckily, though, Kim has some incredible skills up her sleeve.
Here, we find out more from stellar cast members Williams, Rizwan and Modak.
Williams first read the script for Two Weeks To Live – written by Gaby Hull, who was behind ITV’s Cheat – a few years ago when it was a film, not a TV show.
“I thought the context of the world coming to an end and the fear of that was really intriguing; it triggers people’s fight or flight and to see how people react is interesting, especially with Kim,” notes the star.
“Now the world around us has changed, it’s become something which is very topical. We just couldn’t have predicted that way back then.” Modak, who’s a relative newcomer (but you might recognise him from ITV drama The Bay), jumped at the chance to have a job – but especially when he saw the cast involved.
“I would have been an idiot to turn down such an opportunity,” he quips.
“And then, they’re just such short, fun, jam-packed episodes. They’re packed with so much emotion and comedy and action, obviously – from Maisie’s side and Sian’s side specifically. And there was just a lot of fun, but then it’s grounded in relationships, between the four of them.
“For me, it was the combination of quite relatable characters in quite extraordinary situations,” adds Rizwaan on the appeal of the script.
Just seeing how these characters react in extreme situations, and the comedy that comes from that, I really enjoyed reading.
This is a stunt-filled series, and Williams recalls a day on set when one scene went a bit wrong.
“We filmed it at night-time, and so we were quite tired – and when you’re tired is when mistakes come.
“There’s this part where I kick Sean Pertwee [who plays a villain] in the chest, and I caught him just in the chin and the lip and made him bleed. I felt really bad about that!” Rizwan, a writer and comedian who started out making YouTube sketches jokes: “Nicky just screams a lot, bless him.
“There was a shootout car sequence… Maisie, I genuinely thought you were going to fall out the boot because you were literally hanging out the car!
“I don’t know how you were doing it. I was genuinely terrified. So, no acting on my part for that scene.”
As well as plenty of action, there’s plenty of laughs in store too.
“I’d say the comedy is pretty deadpan, slightly crude,” enthuses Williams.
“Tina is very cutting, and Jay and Nicky are kind of these bumbling idiots that she gets to put down all the time.” She continues: “It’s such a good breakout role for Taheen. He absolutely smashed it; his delivery makes me laugh so much. There’s not a single element of these performances that I don’t enjoy on-screen.” Modak confides he found the comedy “very challenging, especially in a dark comedy like this where you’re trying not to tell jokes”.
“It’s almost like you have a sixth sense; you’re aware that there is a gag there but you’re trying to be deadly serious, you’re trying to be as honest and earnest as you can be, especially when you’re playing a character like Jay.
A lot of the stuff he says is pretty absurd and people watching will know that, but you’ve got to play it straight and honest.
Game Of Thrones fans should look out for a Game Of Thrones reference, too.
“We just wanted to do a little nod [to Arya],” says Williams. “That’s the role I’m known for and her most defining feature is how she can fight so we wanted to add a little Easter Egg.”
Kim and Arya are both kick-ass characters for Williams to have on her CV, but what’s different is that “Kim is allowed to be a young woman and take her time to find her place in modern-day society and that’s something that Arya wouldn’t be able to comprehend”.
“It does feel like an evolution for myself,” the star adds.
“All of the wonderful things about Arya felt very familiar when playing Kim but it’s nice to play someone who’s more my age, more feminine and gets some romance.”
Talking of romance, Williams teases more about Kim’s budding relationship with Nicky.
“She’s watched a couple of movies and understands love stories even though the only films that she has seen are like Braveheart, which is quite a sad existence!” she elaborates.
“She doesn’t have any of the shy, awkward, embarrassment that we often get when we engage with someone we are attracted to. I’ve always felt very forward in trying to say exactly what I mean, so it was really nice to play a character who does that.”
Two Weeks To Live launches on Sky One on Wednesday, September 2