Game of Thrones STARMAISIE WIL­LIAMS slays in fear­less spring looks

InStyle (USA) - - Directory - pho­tographed by TUNG WALSH

Maisie Wil­liams suits up in spring’s bold­est looks

Maisie Wil­liams has a star­ring role on one of the most-ob­sessed-over shows of all time, a tro­phy case’s worth of awards, and more In­sta­gram fol­low­ers (7.5 mil­lion) than the pope (5.2 mil­lion). But she’s not in­ter­ested in tak­ing ad­van­tage of her high pro­file—un­less, you know, it means ex­pe­dited ship­ping.

“Once, I was or­der­ing clothes for Christ­mas gifts, and these peo­ple said it would take over a month [for the pack­age] to ar­rive,” Wil­liams says, sound­ing ex­as­per­ated all over again. “It was so an­noy­ing and such bad cus­tomer ser­vice that I wrote them a nasty email and signed my real name.”

This, she says, is the most shame­less thing she’s ever done, ref­er­enc­ing the theme of the pho­tos you see here (a tongue-in- cheek nod to hergame of Thrones char­ac­ter Arya Stark’s “a girl has no name” mantra in Sea­son 5). The shoot had Wil­liams wan­der­ing the streets of her cur­rent home, Lon­don, in search of spon­ta­neous photo ops.

“Ev­ery­one was just star­ing at me like, ‘ What is this in­sane per­son do­ing?’ ” she says. “I was run­ning around in crazy dresses and cross­ing roads in the freez­ing cold.” But Wil­liamshas a his­tory of be­ing over­dressed in un­ex­pected places. “Af­ter an awards show you’ll of­ten find me wear­ing a gi­ant gown or­der­ing, like, fish takeout some­where.”

Wil­liams, who just turned 21, has been nav­i­gat­ing her place in the spot­light for over half her life. The youngest of four chil­dren grow­ing up in Bris­tol, Eng­land, she was train­ing to be a bal­le­rina when a tal­ent agent spot­ted her at a lo­cal show­case when she was 11 and per­suaded her to con­sider act­ing. Cut to an au­di­tion to play a fear­less tomboy on an up-and-com­ing HBO series calledgame of Thrones (which she ad­mits to nearly skip­ping for a field trip to a pig farm) and land­ing what proved to be a life-

chang­ing part. The show pre­miered a few days af­ter Wil­liams’s 14th birth­day to nearin­stant ac­claim, just in time for her to set­tle into ado­les­cence as a ris­ing star.

“I strug­gled with the pres­sure to fit in and al­ways wor­ried about say­ing the right thing,” she re­mem­bers of her teens, which in­cluded a pe­riod of such bru­tal on­line bul­ly­ing from her high-school class­mates that she left to work with pri­vate tu­tors. Liv­ing up to her badass no­ble­woman-turned-as­sas­sin per­sona in pub­lic, she says, was a hard left from how she felt in­side. “It was strange be­cause I put on the per­son­al­ity of the girl who was ‘Maisie Wil­liams’ but re­ally strug­gled in my per­sonal life.” Ul­ti­mately, it was con­nect­ing with fans that gavewil­liams the con­fi­dence she has to­day. “I think just un­der­stand­ing I wasn’t the only one who feels like they don’t fit in re­ally helped me,” she says. “And it made me want to in­form other young kids that it ac­tu­ally does get bet­ter.”

This mes­sage shines through in Wil­liams’s work, as she’s drawn to fierce, mul­ti­fac­eted char­ac­ters who fight for what they want. Up next is her first voice-over gig in the

Clay­ma­tion film Early Man, co-star­ring Ed­die Red­mayne and Tom Hid­dle­ston and pro­duced by Aard­man An­i­ma­tions, the beloved British com­pany be­hind the Wal­lace & Gromit fran­chise. In it, she plays Goona, a feisty soc­cer player from the Bronze Age who will do any­thing—from prac­tic­ing in the dead­ofnight to­coachin­gateamof­bum­bling cave­men—to stake her claim in a male-dom­i­nated sport. And while the free-spir­ited part was in Wil­liams’s wheel­house, she wasn’taboveafew­pro­tips­fro­moscar-dec­o­rated Red­mayne. “He was so lovely and re­ally en­cour­aged me to come out of my shell,” she re­calls of their time in the stu­dio. “It was the best help I could have re­ceived.”

Long term, Wil­liams is look­ing for­ward to branch­ing out into the­ater work and in­die flicks as well as launch­ing a net­work­ing app for creative pro­fes­sion­als called Daisie (co­founded with film pro­ducer Dom Santry). But first there’s the un­fin­ished busi­ness of Game of Thrones. Now film­ing the show’s eighth and fi­nal sea­son, she is still com­ing to terms with leav­ing her break­out role be­hind.

“The hard­est thing about the show end­ing is that I’ll never get to be Arya again,” she says, point­ing out that she and her char­ac­ter are less alike than peo­ple might think. “For a long time we felt like the same per­son, but now that I’m older, I’ve grown into a dif­fer­ent per­son and found other sides to my per­son­al­ity.

“But I do wish she shaped me to be more fear­less in the in­dus­try,” she con­tin­ues. “Hon­estly, no­mat­ter­what el­sei­workon, I’ll miss play­ing her.”

But just be­ing Maisie isn’t half bad. She re­cently moved into a new Lon­don apart­ment with close friend and fel­low ac­tor Bill Mil­ner (the two ap­peared to­gether in the 2017 film iboy) and speaks en­thu­si­as­ti­cally about the sim­ple joys of be­ing at home: hang­ing out with her two pet tor­toises ( Bar­ney and Ste­vie Won­der) and play­ing video games un­til 3 o’clock in the morn­ing. There’s also her adopted shih tzu, Sunny, who, when all this celebrity stuff gets out of con­trol, keeps her hum­ble.

“Pick­ing up his poop in the park def­i­nitely brings me back to re­al­ity,” she says, laugh­ing. “It’s the most nor­mal, av­er­age thing about my life.” —ALISONSYRE­TT

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