Maisie Williams was 13 years old when she joined the cast of Game of Thrones as the definitive fan favourite Arya Stark, and now at 22, she’s being very frank about how the past eight years have affected her mental health.
In an interview on the Happy Place podcast, Williams admits that her mental health and self-esteem suffered because of the extreme fame brought on by the Game of Thrones franchise and the social media criticism that is inevitably paired with that.
“It got to me a lot, because there’s just a constant feed in your back pocket of what people think of you,” Williams explained.
“It got to the point where I’d be in a conversation with my friends and my mind would be running and running and running and thinking about all the stupid things I’d said in my life, and all of the people that had looked at me a certain way, and it would just race and race and race,” she said. “We’d be talking and I’d be like, ‘I hate myself.’”
Maisie Williams has made it abundantly clear time and time again how grateful and appreciative she is of her opportunity to be a part of Game of Thrones, and publicly sharing the darker side of that experience is a bold stand for the importance of mental health.
In spite of the perks of fame, notoriety and money that came with her role, Williams has decided that fame is “not worth it.” So, as the series comes to a close, Maisie Williams plans to take a break from acting.
“Honestly, I want a normal life,” she said. “I don’t want any of this crazy, crazy world because it’s not worth it.”
Williams opened up about the pressure she felt to assure herself and others that “everything is fine” because her situation was so envied. But understandably, going through your teen years with that immense scrutiny took its toll.
“It gets to a point where you’re almost craving something negative so you can sit in a hole of sadness, and it’s really bizarre the way it starts to consume you.” She said.
It seems it was only last year that Maisie Williams developed a hold on self-care and “just took a step away from it all.”
“Last year, I think in my own personal life, I went through a lot of revelations where I was like, ‘I’m not very happy doing this and pretending that everything’s fine’. She said.
“That wasn’t like a public thing, but after going through that, I’ve tried to be a lot more genuine. It just becomes a lot more relaxing after that. Once you drop it all, that’s when you can really have fun.”
She’s still working on her self-care, admitting that.
“I still lie in bed at, like, 11 o’clock at night telling myself all the things I hate about myself,” Williams said. “It’s just really terrifying that you’re ever going to slip back into it. That’s still something that I’m really working on, because I think that’s really hard. It’s really hard to feel sad and not feel completely defeated by it.”
Maisie’s co-star and best friend Sophie Turner similarly has opened up about mental health challenges she faced amidst the extreme fame. Talking about the struggles that were coupled with their Game of Thrones experiences is a brave way to help debunk myths around mental health and success.