Sunday April 14, 2013
Stark days ahead
By Michael Cheang
THINGS have not been going well for House Stark since Lord Eddard Stark was beheaded at the end of Season One. Robb Stark (Richard Madden) is now the King In the North and faces an uphill task to regain Winterfell, which er ... fell to Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen); his younger brothers Bran (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) and Rickon (Art Parkinson) are missing and presumed dead (they’re not, by the way); and his half-brother Jon Snow is facing his own problems beyond the Wall.
And then there are the three Stark women – matriarch Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley), elder daughter Sansa (Sophie Turner) and younger daughter Arya (Maisie Williams) – who are not having a great time, either.
“Things definitely get grimmer for Catelyn Stark this season,” Fairley mused.
At the end of Season Two, Catelyn had released Jaime Lannister after Petyr Baelish aka Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen) convinced her to use Jaime as a bargaining chip to get her daughters back from King’s Landing.
“In doing so, she usurps her son’s authority, and puts him in an awkward position. She’s under recompense for that, and has to live with her actions – the loss of closeness to her son,” added the 49-year-old Northern Irish actress. “Their relationship has changed dramatically – he is physically still there, but is distant from her, and she feels completely isolated.”
Despite playing one of the most tragic characters in the series, Fairley totally relishes the role. “I love the complexity of her. She is a mother first and foremost, and she is also a grieving widow. She comes from a very honourable family (the Tullys), so on a base level, she has a very strong core of morality,” she said. “She is flawed as a human being as well. She’s cloaked in sadness, but she has to maintain a certain strength, because her wish is to keep her children alive and get them back together.”
Like her mother, Sansa Stark is also in a bit of a bind. A political prisoner in the lion’s den that is King’s Landing, she is caught in the middle of the cutthroat political scheming of Lannister siblings Cersei (Lena Headey) and Tyrion (Peter Dinklage), and is entirely at the mercy of the cruel boy king, Joffrey (Jack Gleeson).
“Yeah, she’s not having a good time,” Turner said with a sigh, when asked about how her character seems to be perpetually depressed. “This season is definitely more emotionally and mentally challenging because she has these highs and then she has these lows. It’s very testing for her this season.”
According to her, Sansa has had to evolve from the daydreaming princess of the first season into a more devious player of the game of thrones.
“In Season One, she was like ‘I want to marry the prince, I want his babies, and I want this magical fairytale life’. Then in Season Two and later in Season Three, she is totally becoming like a politician without anyone really knowing, because she’s such an underdog and everyone thinks she’s this stupid princess/prisoner kind of character. She’s learning the politics and sneaking her way around,” the 17-year-old actress added.
Still, it’s not all bad for the older Stark daughter, according to Turner.
“I got to smile this season!” she said gleefully. “I was so happy when I read the script and saw that it was a happy scene. It’s really nice to have Happy Sansa for a little bit, and then she goes back to normal Depressed Sansa.
“All I really want for her is for Sansa to be happy. And maybe have a husband whom she loves,” she added.
The one member of the Stark family who doesn’t seem as depressed as the rest (apart from little Rickon, of course) is Arya, who – having escaped from the Lannister-held castle Harrenhal – is now searching for her family while waving her sword Needle around willy-nilly.
The feisty, sword-fighting tomboy is played by bubbly 15-year-old Maisie Williams, who declared, when asked what viewers can expect from the character this season: “More mischief and trouble, more people telling her no, and more of her fighting back!”
When Williams auditioned for the part of Arya, she didn’t know a single thing about Game Of Thrones, which she reckons was a good thing. “If I had auditioned knowing what I was going to be doing three years up the line, I think I would have freaked out a lot more!” she said with a laugh. “Each season has been more and more challenging. I never thought I’d have to stand up and cry in front of someone. Also, trying to get your head around two people trying to kill each other is weird, because not many people know what that feels like.”
George R. R. Martin himself had mentioned that Arya is his favourite character to write in the entire series, and not surprisingly, Williams also gets along pretty well with the American author. “I get on really, really well with him. I met him first at the pilot, and was a little intimidated by him, because I knew he likes Arya, and wanted to do him proud. I feel that I owe it to him that I’m here,” she said, adding that although she hasn’t read the books, she roughly knows what happens to Arya up until the most recent book.
“My stepdad has (read the books), and he’s been telling me about it and what all the other characters are up to,” she said. “I’ve spoken to George about it as well. He told me all the plans he has, how much fun it is writing and making up everything everyone else loves, and that he knows the ending, but doesn’t know how he’s going to get there yet.
“And no, he doesn’t tell me how it ends! Every time I sit near him and try to go near the topic, he just goes away again! I want to know just as badly as everyone else!”