On the set of HBO’s Game of Thrones, we corralled the Sand Snakes together for an exclusive group interview. Below, Keisha Castle-Hughes (who plays Obara, the spear-carrying eldest of the late Prince Oberyn’s daughters), Jessica Henwick (whip-wielding middle sister Nymeria) and Rosabell Laurenti Sellers (the crop-topped dagger-stabbing youngest, Tyene) take six questions about their lethal Dornish characters, who have been tripping up Jaime Lannister and his trusty sellsword Bronn this season. We met up with the trio in Spain last October, right after the actresses had a morning yoga session and just before they shot their first big fight scene…
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Did you watch the show before you got cast? And what was your casting process like? Keisha Castle-Hughes: I’m a massive fan of the show. I knew that this season there would be a call for brown actors, and I guess my people—if you will—were on that. So we just kept pushing and annoying [Thrones casting director] Nina Gold. She wasn’t that keen on casting out of Los Angeles, which is where I’m based. So I managed to send a tape by way of New Zealand, and then after that, I met with [showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss].
Jessica Henwick: Big fan of the show. I’ve seen every episode. Multiple times. Nina’s called me in for another role in the series, and then I met David and Dan for that. Then it was sort of like, “Oh, you’re good, but not quite right for that character. Would you be interested in auditioning for the Sand Snakes?” I wanted to play Nymeria. Originally, they were like, “We want a black actress,” so I couldn’t get in for it. Then they said, “Yeah, you can be Nymeria.”
Rosabell Laurenti Sellers: I had heard of the show. I started watching it after I got the part. I just met Nina in the office. It was just like a meeting, but not for this. Then she saw me and gave me the sides and said to self-tape for this part. So I sent the tape.
How would you describe your character?
Sellers: I’m playing the youngest. She’s really kind of sneaky. They’re all fighters, obviously, and she has double daggers, and she’s very aggressive. But then she also has a seductive side to her. I think she’s discovering her sexuality and discovering the effect that that could have on people. So she’s playing around with that, and she also has the youngest-child complex. So she also has prove herself to her older sisters. So just show that she can fight too, and she can also, you know, participate.
Henwick: Oberyn’s my dad, my mother was the one who taught me the whip. So she was a fighter, and so that’s interesting. And that’s given her this idea of, she knows she doesn’t have to prove herself to anyone—because it’s like, I know my mom was kickass. I know my dad was a boss. She’s a little bit more reserved. Yeah, middle-child complex.
Castle-Hughes: From the books, the character of Obara hasn’t changed a lot, except for that I’m maybe half the size and age that she’s written in the books. She’s definitely her father’s daughter. She’s a warrior monk. She meditates a lot when she’s not killing people, and she is a little sometimes annoyed by her little sisters. They’re kind of pesky, but she is very…her belief in hierarchy is very…she respected that, and so, with her father’s death…and Obara doesn’t…her mother was a whore when she was a child, which is directly from the books, which we show on the show. Oberyn came to her when she was six and said, “You can choose your mother’s tears or the spear,” and she chose the spear and never looked back. She wields the same spear as Oberyn
Who has the coolest weapon?
All three: Me!
Castle-Hughes: I have the spear. So I think I’m the most like our father. So it’s the coolest.
Henwick: No. I think the whip is the coolest because we haven’t seen that on Game of Thrones before.
Sellers: We haven’t seen double daggers held by a girl either! I can really get close into people, fight really close up, which is cool.
What was your training like for the show?
Castle-Hughes: Rather intensive. As soon I got the part, we starting training. There’s a new stunt coordinator on this season, which will be really exciting, to see what he brings to all the different fight sequences. A lot of my training was in the martial arts of Wushu, and so a lot of that is just handling and footwork. It’s been about a maybe four and a half to five-month lead up to today, we’re shooting our big fight scene against [Jaime and Bronn] finally and using the weapons.
Henwick: Mine was quite similar. I found out I got the roll at about 6 p.m., and as soon as my agent called, I hung up, and then I had a call from production saying, “Can you fly to Belfast tomorrow to start training?” I had quite a few sessions in Belfast working with some Bulgarian guys. Upper body strength—that’s what you need for a whip—and coordination, and good timing. It’s a really scary weapon because you’re just as likely to injure yourself. I’ve whipped myself many times.
Sellers: I flew out to Belfast a few times for training as well, and then just found somebody [to] follow me with the daggers. I learned the choreography late after I started training. So I had to really catch up on that, and it’s really hard. I’ve never done any fight scenes. I’ve never done stage combat. It’s so hard because you have to put all the intention into it, but then make it fake. It’s so much fun.
So who was Prince Oberyn’s favorite?
Sellers: I was. Since I’m the daughter of his latest lover.
Castle-Hughes: But you have your mother still. I have nothing. You had an amazing mother. Obara had just…she only has him.
Henwick: Yeah, but he didn’t ditch my mother. My mother died.
Castle-Hughes: So did mine!
Henwick: Yeah, but he ditched her first.
Sellers: He was still in love with my mother though.
Castle-Hughes: It’s debatable, obviously. Let the fans decide. The fans know the truth.
Which of you is the most ruthless?
Henwick: Obara doesn’t have a heart.
Castle-Hughes: She’s very violent, and the death of her father has taken her into a very dark place. She’s not dealing with it well, and the way that she deals with things is kills people.
Well, at least there’s one thing you agree on!