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Maisie Williams and Lena Headey both wished for an Arya-Cersei standoff

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Screenshot: HBO

[This post contains spoilers for the final season of Game Of Thrones.]

It turns out the fans aren’t the only ones who were expecting Game Of Thrones’ final season to end a little differently. In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, both Maisie Williams and Lena Headey admit that they initially wanted there to be a final showdown between their characters, Arya Stark and Cersei Lannister, even if it meant both characters died there and then. “I just wanted to be on set with Lena again, she’s good fun,” Williams says. “And I wanted Arya to kill Cersei even if it means [Arya] dies too.” Obviously, things didn’t go that way.


Fans will remember that Cersei’s name was high on Arya’s hit list for several seasons, and, when she and the Hound arrived in King’s Landing during the penultimate episode, a standoff between the Lannister queen and the Stark assassin seemed like the inevitable conclusion of this revenge story. “Even up to the point when Cersei’s with Jaimie 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,” Williams tells EW. “I thought that’s what Arya’s drive has been.”

Headey, too, had visions of being stuck with Arya’s needle but says she only “lived that fantasy until [she] read the script.” Her disappointment wasn’t with the way things were written on the page, to be clear, but moreso that it wasn’t what she had anticipated. “There is something poetic about the way it all happens in the end with her and Jaime,” Headey concedes.

In the end, both actresses had to make peace with the fact that, as it had been for the previous seven seasons, Game Of Thrones was going to stay unpredictable to the end. When the Hound gives Arya a pep talk in the crumbling Red Keep, her cold determination to check names off her kill list is pitted against all the positive things she now has in her life that are worth living for—her family, seeing Jon again, Gendry. “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,” Williams says. “It’s not a Game Of Thrones ending for Arya, it’s a happy ending.”

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