EW spoke to actor Aidan Gillen for the upcoming seventh season of HBO’s Game of Thrones, but one of our questions was about a certain scene that occurred years ago that fans have always wondered about: Did Petyr Baelish recognize Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) when he encountered her back in season 2?
You remember the scene: Littlefinger was visiting Lord Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance) at Harrenhal while Arya was working incognito as a servant girl. She nervously spills some wine and Littlefinger glances at the Stark fugitive curiously. Littlefinger had met Arya previously back in season one though didn’t pay her much attention (his focus, of course, was on her sister Sansa).
“It was unclear if he recognized her or not, but I have my own thoughts on that,” Gillen told EW. “Yes, I did recognize her — I just didn’t say anything or do anything about it.”
Gillen didn’t reveal why his scheming character would have stayed silent instead of exposing her identity to the Lannister patriarch. But perhaps he thought that if left things alone that Arya might kill Tywin, which would then create more power-grabbing opportunities for himself (chaos, after all, is a ladder).
Speaking of Littlefinger’s ambitions, we also asked what’s going on at Winterfell in season 7 between Littlefinger and Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) now that they’re back in each others’ good graces (sort of) and Baelish has revealed his ultimate ambition to seize the Iron Throne with Sansa as his queen.
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“I finished last season on a promising note by laying my cards on the table — at least to Sansa,” Gillen says. “I was [sowing seeds of doubt about Jon Snow] throughout my appearances in season 6, and, yeah, that will continue. It’s pretty obvious what my game is there. We’re playing out that final exchange in the Great Hall in Winterfell. But the same time my character is becoming quite aware that Sansa is becoming as bright as me and just as wary of my manipulations of her. They’re onto each other. They use each other. They enjoy each other. And they keep a lot from each other. There are all kinds of mixed things going on with Littlefinger and his relationship with Sansa, so watching her grow in stature is quite enjoyable.”
Littlefinger’s schemes this year will involve a degree of risk, as always, but Gillen says that’s how his character functions.
“With carefully laid plans there’s always a bit of risk involved,” he says. “He puts himself in a situation that could backfire on him. But I think he likes that. His plans are never fail safe. But he puts himself on the line like a good gambler.”
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Game of Thrones is back on July 16.