On Sunday night, "Game of Thrones" fans were shocked when Arya Stark (Maisie Williams), a former tomboy turned revenge-fuelled assassin suffering from murderous tunnel vision, showed her humanity by propositioning and losing her virginity to her friend Gendry (Joe Dempsie).
Yet no one was more surprised by the scene than Williams herself, who told Entertainment Weekly on Monday that when she first read the script, she thought it was a joke.
EW noted that showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss have sent hoax scripts to cast members in the past, including a Season 1 scene sent to Kit Harington in which Jon Snow's face was to be disfigured.
"At first, I thought it was a prank," the 22-year-old Williams said. "I was like, 'Yo, good one.' And [the showrunners were] like, 'No, we haven't done that this year.' Oh f—k!"
The actress, who was nominated for an Emmy in 2016 for her portrayal of Arya, explained that she first learned of the scene from her BFF and co-star Sophie Turner (aka Sansa Stark), who had zipped through the final season's scripts before Williams. Turner thought the scene was "awesome," but Williams stood by her belief that the scene was bogus until the cast did a table read and the sex scene was still in the script.
"I got to the read-through and I'm reading the scene and thought, 'Oh, we're actually going to do this. When do I shoot this? I need to go to the gym.' A whole list of things," Williams told EW.
Must-visit Game of Thrones locations in Northern Ireland
Must-visit Game of Thrones locations in Northern Ireland
Be inspired to take a Game of Thrones mini-break with these beautiful settings, including the real-life Dragonstone, Winterfell and more...
Arguably the most iconic Game of Thrones filming location in Northern Ireland, Castle Ward is the real-life location of the famous Winterfell. The 18th-century mansion is a National Trust property embellished with a mix of classical and gothic architecture, and the grounds take in striking views over the Strangford Lough. At Castle Ward, you can dress up in Game of Thrones costumes and take part in archery lessons. Here you can also meet the real-life Direwolves which feature in the show.
The opening of the first ever episode of Game of Thrones was filmed in the Tollymore Forest Park in County Down. The Haunted Forest is where we saw the Night’s Watch deserter ride into a circle of Wildling bodies. The atmospheric setting is also the location where Starks discovered the dire wolves.
One of the most recognisable filming locations from Game of Thrones, the Dark Hedges is a frequent feature in the series. The unmistakable hedges played the part of Kingsroad, and featured in the scene where Arya escaped from King’s Landing. The alluring natural attraction – a beech-tree lined narrow road creating the illusion of a mysterious tunnelled hedge - meant that no digital enhancements had to be made for the show, making it one of the most authentic filming locations to visit.
These striking caves are situated on County Antrim’s wild and beautiful east coast, and were formed over a period of 400 million years. The Cushendun Caves was used as the setting for the Stormlands, and the birthplace of Melisandre’s spooky shadow baby.
The picture-perfect Ballintoy Harbour has taken on the setting of both the Lordsport Harbour and the Iron Islands. The harbour’s most iconic scene saw Theon being baptised into the religion of the drowned God in series 2. The harbour was also used in series 4 as the place where Melisandre presided over the burning of the Bannermen.
Downhill Strand on the coast of County Derry is one of Northern Ireland’s most-loved beaches. The 11km stretch of sand is classed as an Area of Special Scientific Interest (ASSI) and is also a Special Area of Conservation. The strand is home to Mussenden, which is a tiny temple perched atop a 120ft cliff above the Atlantic Ocean. The striking beach was used as the setting for Dragonstone in series 2, and is the place where the seven gods of Westeros were sacrificed by Melisandre.
Inch Abbey in County Down was the location used for the Houses of the North. The setting was used for Robb Starks’ camp in Riverrun and was featured before the battle in which the Stark army captured Jamie Lannister and learned of the death of Ned Stark. The abbey dates back to the 12th century and is located beside the River Quoile, featuring striking views across to the spires of Down Cathedral.
Binevenagh in County Derry is a mountain situated off the main Causeway Coastal Route. It was formed over 60 million years ago and boasts dramatic basalt cliffs which dominate the surrounding countryside. The breathtaking panoramic views from the mountain cover Roe Valley, the Sperrin Mountains, the North Coast and Lough Foyle to Donegal. Binevenagh was the filming location for Dothraki and is best remembered by fans from the series 5 finale where Daenerys was captured by a Dothraki horde.
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The actress noted that she was given a certain amount of control over how much nudity to reveal, which is refreshing considering that "Game of Thrones" is notorious for its gratuitous sex scenes.
"David and Dan were like: 'You can show as much or as little as you want,'" Williams said. "So I kept myself pretty private. I don't think it's important for Arya to flash. This beat isn't really about that. And everybody else has already done it on the show, so ..."
Dempsie, who is a decade older than Williams and has known her since she was a young girl working on the show, had the same concerns about the scene as many fans did.
But he seems to have handled the whole thing pretty well.
"It's obviously slightly strange for me because I've known Maisie since she was 11, 12 years old," the 31-year-old actor told EW. "At the same time, I don't want to be patronizing toward Maisie — she's a 20-year-old woman. So we just had a lot of fun with it."
It should also be noted that the scene took place on the eve of an epic battle in which many beloved characters believe they're going to die, including Arya. So, regardless of how one may feel about this shocking scene, it was nice to see Arya finally just be human again — even if it took the threat of death to allow her to embrace life.