We spend a lot of time talking about how we feel after “Game of Thrones,” and we’ll probably keep it going for a long while. Even though the series ended in May, its reputation and influence will continue; just think about how many awards it garnered for the cast and crew alike. Sophie Turner and Kit Harington will always be known as Sansa Stark and Jon Snow, and no matter how many adorable romances Emilia Clarke gets cast in, the Mother of Dragons isn’t going anywhere.
But while the story will live on as is in our minds and on our screens, one aspect of the show that’s surfaced -- for better or worse -- post-“GoT” has been the effect the show has had on the people involved in creating it. We caught a glimpse of the literal blood, sweat and tears that went into season 8 on “The Last Watch,” the documentary special that aired after the series finale, and it put the grandeur and visual prowess of “Game of Thrones” as a whole into perspective.
When the elaborate sets and mesmerizing costumes were removed, though, what remained was a cast who was grown up, exposed to the public’s criticism and dealing with real-world challenges. Harington, for example, entered rehab following the show’s close for stress and anxiety-induced substance abuse control. “Thrones” was a masterpiece, yes, but it also subjected a very young cast to working conditions that almost didn’t seem feasible -- and this was most of their first real jobs.
Perhaps the only other instance of a group of kid actors spending a decade of their childhoods on one project was the “Harry Potter” franchise, where Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint were 11 years old when they were cast and finished up the final installment in their 20s. Likewise, on “Game of Thrones,” we watched a number of cast members literally grow up on screen -- Isaac Hempstead Wright (Bran Stark) was just 10 in the first season, for example.
Remember how much we all squealed when this photo of Harington, Richard Madden (Robb Stark, may his beautiful face rest in peace) and Alfie Allen (Theon Greyjoy) from their first few days on set surfaced?
Maisie Williams, too, was a teenybopper at 14 years old when she first appeared as Arya Stark. Of course, we know that Arya turned into quite the boss b*tch throughout the series, but during those opening seasons, Arya was small, tomboyish and quite literally posing as a boy at times. Williams recently opened up to Vogue about what her character’s anti-femininity meant for her as a growing, developing young lady.
“Even though I was, like, 16, 18, I was still looking like 12,14,” Williams said in a sit-down prior to Paris Fashion Week. “A couple of seasons in the middle, maybe around season 2 or 3, my body started to mature and I started to, like, become a woman,” she explained.
Williams talked about how she would have to wear chest-flattening pieces to keep up her boyish appearance, and as a teenage girl coming into her own, it wasn’t the most esteem-strengthening move.
“Arya was still very much trying to be disguised as a boy, and I had really short hair and they would constantly cover me in dirt and shade my nose so it looked really broad and I look really manly,” she said. “[I] felt kind of ashamed for a while.”
Now that “Thrones” is over, Williams has been expanding her look, somehow maintaining the inspiring spirit of Arya while becoming very much her own person. The fashion world, she said, has allowed her the opportunity to explore her self-expression and identity -- and it’s been an impressive portfolio to follow.
“So with this new phase of my style it is nice to look more feminine and have a real waistline and embrace the body that I have,” she told Vogue.
Between her ever-changing hair color and custom award show dresses, Williams obviously has more to show the world than being Arya allowed her. Most recently, she and her boyfriend, co-founder of Contact Modeling Agency Reuben Selby, have appeared in many a matching ensemble. They showed up in coordinating crisp outfits and pink hair to a pre-wedding white party for Turner's nuptials, and their Paris Fashion Week threads matched, too -- down to coordinating socks.
She showcased her unique style at the Emmys, too, where she wore a gown that Selby actually helped JW Anderson design with Williams specifically in mind.
“I’ve always wanted the perfect custom red carpet dress -- something that I feel really confident and comfortable in,” Williams said in a statement, according to Harper’s Bazaar. “I asked Reuben if he would design something with me in mind; my height, my shape, my likes and insecurities.”
An oft-overlooked microcosm of self-esteem and insecurity, finding a way to represent the skin you’re comfortable in is difficult for anyone, let alone someone who grew up hiding her femininity. We applaud the way Williams is using fashion as a means to work her way into someone she’s proud of.