This Sunday, Game of Thrones fan favorite Arya Stark returns in season 5’s second episode to a very different storyline. After wandering Westeros for three years’ worth of episodes, Arya decided she was finished with her homeland in the season 4 finale. She boarded a ship headed to Braavos, the seaport city on the continent of Essos that was also the home of the mysterious faceless assassin “Jaqen H’ghar” she encountered in season 2.
“I think she’s seen it coming for awhile,” actress Maisie Williams tells EW about Arya deciding to get out of Westeros. “I think it’s been a long time accepting that for somebody so young. She knows it’s the right decision to make, and she had been putting it off. She’s on a ship to somewhere new, somewhere she’s completely unfamiliar with. She’s ultimately trying to find release of her former self.”
Williams confirms Arya gets some—and we’re being very vague about this as not to spoil anything—training, of sorts.
“She’s not treated amazingly,” Williams says. “It’s a form of training she’s not familiar with, and she doesn’t know why she’s doing [it]. One thing that frustrates her is, she’s a very logical person and she can’t understand how her training relates to her ultimate goal. And her attitude frustrates a lot of people.”
This season, Williams will also get her first major costume change in the history of the show. (See our cover story photo above.) The last few seasons, her character has been disguised as a peasant boy—plus, she hasn’t had many opportunities for a wardrobe upgrade. Now, after moving to a place where nobody is likely to recognize her anyway, Arya will ditch her grubby brown tunic for a more feminine look.
“We did a scene where Arya throws away her old clothes,” she teases. “That was such a release. It was like, no acting required. It was totally like a next chapter. It was emotional, and so far it’s been absolutely my favorite scene to do. You’ve never seen Arya looking like this, and the way I’m shot is different too. It’s a breath of fresh air. It’s the first time I’ve smiled in Game of Thrones since episode 1, being fed pigeon pie. I’m really looking forward to people seeing me in a new light.”
Williams recently attend Thrones‘ season premiere in San Francisco, where she shared her red carpet tips with us. (For instance, having a press-distracting prop helps.)
Before we go, is there anything else she can tell us about this season?
“Hmm … she meets new and old faces, and—” Williams catches herself, having made an accidental joking reference to an element of the story that book-readers will recognize. “Oh my God, that’s a good one. I can’t believe I said that!”
The second episode of Game of Thrones season 5 airs Sunday night. EW.com will have a recap and a post-episode interviews. Follow @jameshibberd to know when each is posted.