When I think of shows with perfect casts, Game of Thrones is one of the first that comes to mind. Many of the actors were virtual unknowns when they were cast, but they bring the Starks, Lannisters, and the rest of Westeros' many citizens alive like no one else could. That is why it is so strange to imagine a different actress playing Sansa Stark. According to The Huffington Post, though, that could have been the case: A young, British actress named Izzy Meikle-Small almost nabbed the role of Sansa. Meikle-Small made it down to the final two during auditions, but Sophie Turner ultimately won out.
In Season 1, Turner was playing a young, deeply naive Sansa, who was very much a sheltered teenager. There was not a lot to Sansa at that point. She was often annoyed by her kid sister, she was completely boy-crazy, but she also had a kind heart — typical teenage stuff. By the end of Season 1, Turner suddenly had to play Sansa in a much darker situation as she watched her father be beheaded at the order of the boy she thought would one day be her husband, and Turner did more than rise to the occasion.
She has grown so much as an actress since the pilot, and has taken Sansa from a place of childish innocence to become a mature woman with all the steel and grace of a leader. Though I'm sure Meikle-Small could have embodied Sansa's arc just as well, would she have done it in the same way? While she is not a household name, Meikle-Small has worked steadily throughout her teen years playing a younger version of Charlize Theron in Snow White and the Huntsman and a younger version of Carey Mulligan in Never Let Me Go. Meikle-Small is currently busy at university (she attends King's College London, according to HelloGiggles) and being chill about losing out on the role of Sansa to Turner.
In 2013, a then-17-year-old Meikle-Small told Huffington Post, "I was a bit sad, because the show’s massive, but I’m not that unhappy, because they all show a lot of flesh, don’t they? I don’t think my parents would be happy." While Turner has not partaken in any of the show's infamous nude scenes, she has been part of some of Game of Thrones most brutal sequences. It is nearly impossible to imagine anyone else bringing Sansa's harrowing journey to life with as much strength and emotion as Turner has.
Several Game of Thrones characters were close to being played by other people — in the original pilot different actresses played both Dany and Catelyn — but I simply cannot imagine any other actress making the role of Sansa their own the way Turner has. She has grown into the part over the course of six seasons, and watching her find Sansa's strength has been one of the most rewarding storylines the show has produced.
Meikle-Small is clearly an awesome young woman (just check out her hilarious Twitter feed) and a talented up-and-coming actress. Who knows, maybe she will even end up on Game of Thrones one of these days, but Turner is the one and only Sansa Stark.
Images: HBO; Giphy