the other girls sat there with questions, questions, questions. So if you don’t answer you’re a bitch. And if you do, the next week you’d hear, ‘What a bitch, I wish she’d stop going on about it all the time.’”
She remains in contact with two schoolyard friends. But that’s not because of any airs and graces: “It’s such a fantasy that you’ll always stay friends with the girls at school. You were thrown together because you share a postcode. Often, you’re making the best of a bad bunch. Best days of your life? What bulls**t.”
School was tricky, but it was a picnic compared to social media, a place where unseemly comments come to fester. “I often look at Twitter and think: ‘I’m pretty sure if you said this to my face you could get arrested for a very long time,’” she says.
The fourth estate, meanwhile, are apt to express disapproval that the youngster left school before her GCSE exams. “I hate when people say that I’m uneducated,” says the actor (she had a tutor on the set of Game of
Thrones). “I’ve been given this amazing opportunity. I’d probably be working in an office now. I’ve got my toe in the door and I am not moving my foot. And I’m not sorry. I realised leaving school that I was leaving behind a lot of people who wanted to see me fall.”
It’s not easy spending one’s most hormonally-erratic years in the limelight. And while Williams isn’t about to point a giant foam finger at Robin Thicke, she understands why Miley Cyrus would.
“It’s very hard growing up in public,” she says. “You’re going through all these bodily changes, you’re laughing one minute and crying the next. I understand why some girls want to make a big gesture with a foam finger. I’m more about drip feed. I remember the first time I swore on Twitter. But once you’ve done it, you can do it again.”
Gold is out now on general release
GOLD ★★★★ Directed by Niall Heery Starring James Nesbitt, Maisie Williams, David Wilmot, Kerry Condon, Steven Mackintosh, David McSavage 15A cert, limited release, 88 min
Niall Heery belatedly follows up Small Engine Repair, his 2006 mumblecore critical hit, with a slightly less off-centre comedy that makes imaginative use of a smashing cast. The story skirts tragedy on its leisurely passage from mishap to misadventure, but Gold remains the sort of picture you want to hug indulgently to a welcoming bosom. It gives humanism a good name.
The consistently magnificent David Wilmot – see him also in this week’s release of ‘71 – plays a troubled, sometimes suicidal, dolt named Ray, long estranged from his acerbic daughter Abbie (Maisie Williams) and her plucky mother Alice (Kerry Condon). The film begins with him making an unwelcome appearance at the family home for the first time in 12 years. In the interim, Alice has hooked up with the self-important, mildly deluded Frank (James Nesbitt), Ray’s former gym teacher, and Abbie has developed ambitions to become an athlete. Despite good inten- tions, Ray manages to bring nothing but disruption to the household. He helps Abbie buy performance-enhancing drugs. He makes moves on his old squeeze. If the poor fellow weren’t so amiably vulnerable he would be a positive villain.
There’s not a great deal of plot to the piece. But it gets by on strong performances and convincing characterisation. We have had enough of twinkly Nesbitt to last a lifetime, so it’s a delight to see him play somebody more hard-edged and less liberal with the glad hand. Williams, Arya Stark in Game of Thrones, masters the Irish accent and overpowers all with teenage fury. The film belongs, however, to Wilmot. Few other actors can manage the benevolent confusion he brings to so many of his comic roles. At times here, he suggests Michel Simon in Renoir’s Boudu Saved from Drowning. Just for an instant, he’s Terence Stamp in Pasolini’s Teorema. But he’s nicer than either and the film is far warmer than those comparisons suggest. Like Ray, Gold deserves to be given a chance.
Above: Maisie Williams in Niall Heery’s Gold. Left: As Arya Stark alongside Rory McCann in Game of Thrones
Eminently huggable: Maisie Williams and David Wilmot