Game of Thrones staged another major Stark family reunion Sunday night: Sibling rivals Arya (Maisie Williams) and Sansa (Sophie Turner) came together for the first time since the show’s debut season. Yet unlike previous character meet-ups, this homecoming had a strong personal behind-the-scenes aspect — Williams and Turner are longtime close friends in real life, which made finally working together again rather weird for the actresses.
“Our first scene together was our reunion scene and we f—ed up so many times,” Turner tells EW. “We couldn’t keep a straight face! Our relationship is so close, but it’s only that fun side, never the business side. I was nervous. It just terrified me. It’s like performing for your mom. When somebody is watching you don’t do it quite as well.”
Williams agrees: “It was the weirdest thing when we shot our first scene together. We were both embarrassed to do our thing in front of each other. It took a few hours for us to get serious and actually do it. Later it was fine on set and we could concentrate, but it was so hard to get into character with Sophie in front of me.”
Adds Turner: “But in the long run I think it benefits us because we can be free with each other in our acting. We’re not afraid to go there with each other because we feel so comfortable around each other.”
Turner recalled the very first moment when she learned she was going to be working with Williams in season 7. She was on the set of a film when she got digital access to the new scripts on her phone. “I was like in a corner scrolling on my phone and I was so overwhelmed by [Bran and Sansa and Arya] meeting again,” she says. “So I was sitting in the corner going, ‘Ahhh!’ and everybody there was fans of the show and going ‘What is it?!’ And I rang Maisie up and was like, ‘Can you believe it? It’s amazing!’”
The two even got matching tattoos depicting the date they first met after they started shooting their scenes together. “That date always meant a lot to us and we always said we were gonna get it done,” Turner explains. “And we’d been filming for a week and we were having the best time ever and so we were like, ‘F— it, let’s just do it!’”
Sansa and Arya always had a tense relationship, which came to a head in season 1 after Sansa failed to back up Arya’s accurate account of her riverside fight with Joffrey. Among Thrones fans, Arya was an instant fan favorite, while Sansa received some rather unfair criticism since she designed as a more passive character, trapped by circumstances beyond her control until the show’s latter seasons. Now Arya is a skilled assassin and Sansa is a crafty political player and they both have huge and passionate fandoms. The actresses just hope fans aren’t tempted to start comparing them again.
“I don’t do scenes with women much on this show and I thought [the reaction to season 7] would be like back in season 1 where people constantly compared us,” Williams says. “We’re two completely different girls playing two completely different characters and I thought, ‘Well, it’s going to be that all over again, with people comparing us as characters and as actors.’ So, in the beginning, I was nervous. But then my brain took over and I realized this is actually going to be really good fun.”