“She’s saying the lines, she’s alive, she’s got Arya’s spirit, you know? It was incredible.” – George R. R. Martin on Watching Maisie Williams Audition Tape
If anyone knows the Game of Thrones characters, it’s the creator of the series in which the books are based, George R. R. Martin. The A Song of Ice and Fire author recently did an interview with Rolling Stone regarding the final season of HBO’s television adaptation of Game of Thrones. At one point, Martin spoke specifically about the casting of Maisie Williams, who has played Arya Stark on the series since the first season.
Reflecting on the pitch-perfect casting, Martin credits casting director Nina Gold and show creators David Benioff and D. B. Weiss for succeeding at the challenging task of casting a young actress in the part:
I have to give an immense amount of credit to our casting director, Nina Gold. The casting of Arya was particularly difficult, as I somewhat feared it would be; I think we looked at more potential Aryas than any other role in this show. I wasn’t physically present at the casting — I was back here in New Mexico working on the next book — but I was linked into it on the internet. So they would videotape these girls … I think we probably saw like a hundred girls. And at a certain point in the process I was really beginning to say, ‘This is a disaster, we can’t find anyone here.’ These are not parts that require the girls to be cute, and deliver clever little one-liners to put down their idiot father, like you do in a sitcom. These are girls that are gonna go through really huge personal traumas. They’re gonna see death and war. They’re gonna see people close to them beheaded.
So after looking at all these tapes, particularly for Arya, I was saying, “We are so screwed.” Then I saw Maisie’s tape, and it was like, ‘There she is. There she is. Arya.’ She’s saying the lines, she’s alive, she’s got Arya’s spirit, you know? It was incredible. David [Benioff] and Dan [Weiss] and I said, ‘Yeah, we found her, hooray. Send up the skyrockets.'”