If your character made it all the way to the end of Game of Thrones' eight season run, it's hard to imagine that you would have any complaints about your storyline. Spoilers ahead for the GoT finale. But while things generally worked out for Arya Stark in the end, Maisie Williams' one regret about Season 8 is that Arya didn't get to kill Cersei Lannister — although not for the reasons you might expect.
In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, Williams confessed that she was disappointed that Arya never managed to cross the Lannister matriarch off her kill list, because she was hoping to film more scenes with Lena Headey. "I just wanted to be on set with Lena again, she’s good fun," Williams explained. Cersei and Arya last appeared onscreen together in Season 1, and despite the latter's quest for revenge for Ned Stark's shocking death, they never reunited on the show.
"I wanted Arya to kill Cersei even if it means [Arya] dies too," Williams continued, revealing that she too, subscribed to the theory that Arya would kill Cersei while wearing Jaime's face. "Even up to the point when Cersei’s with Jaime I thought [while reading the script], ‘He’s going to whip off his face [and reveal its Arya]’ and they’re both going to die. I thought that’s what Arya’s drive has been."
For her part, Headey was also sad that she wouldn't get to share the screen with Williams one more time before the show ended. "I lived that fantasy until I read the script," Headey told EW. "There were chunky scenes and it was nothing that I had dreamt about. It was a bit of come down and you have to accept that it wasn’t to be." However, she did concede that, "there is something poetic about the way it all happens in the end with her and Jaime."
Despite her initial disappointment over Arya's lack of revenge, Williams revealed that she was actually happy about her character ending the series on a lighter, less bloody note. "The Hound says, 'You want to be like me? You want to live your life like me?' In my head, the answer was: 'Yeah,'" Williams told EW. "But I guess sleeping with Gendry, seeing Jon again, realizing she’s not just fighting for herself anymore but also her family — it’s bringing up all these human emotions that Arya hasn’t felt for a long time."
She continued, "When The Hound asks her if she has another option, all of a sudden there are so many more things in [Arya’s] life that she can live for, that she can do. It was a shock for me because that wasn’t how I envisioned her arc going this year. Then I realized there were other things I could play, bringing Arya back to being a 16-year-old again."
"It’s not a Game of Thrones ending for Arya, it’s a happy ending," she explained, referring to the way the show tends to shock fans with violence and death when its least expected. "It gave me a place to take Arya that I never thought I’d go with her again."
While Arya's ending involved plenty of new places for both the actor and character to go — literally, as the youngest Stark sister sailed off to explore "what's west of Westeros" at the end of the final episode — fans won't be exploring those new places with her. On Tuesday, May 21, HBO programming president Casey Bloys shot down the idea of an Arya-centric spinoff in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter.
"I do want this show ... to be its own thing. I don't want to take characters from this world that [creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss] did beautifully and put them off into another world with someone else creating it," he explained. "George [R. R. Martin] has a massive, massive world; there are so many ways in. That's why we're trying to do things that feel distinct — and to not try and redo the same show. That's probably one of the reasons why, right now, a sequel or picking up any of the other characters doesn't make sense for us."
While fans —and the cast — might not have gotten to see the ending they expected for Arya Stark, at least they can take comfort in the fact that the fan-favorite character got an ending that both kept her alive, and feels true to her adventurous spirit. Hopefully HBO will also rethink their "no-spinoff" stance before Arya finishes exploring all of Westeros' unknown lands.