So long, Arya Stark!
Maisie Williams is shedding her Game of Thrones persona for a far less violent role in her feature film debut.
The Falling is a dark, intensely eerie coming-of-age story centered on a mysterious fainting epidemic that sweeps through an all-girls' school in the 1969.
"It's a very different movie -- it's a very British movie," Williams explained to ETonline while sitting at a quiet, sun-soaked table completely removed from the nearby chaos of Comic-Con. "I was wondering how it was going to sort of translate over here [in the U.S.] You'd think, 'Oh well, we all speak the same language,' but it's a very different culture."
The 18-year-old starlett plays Lydia, a troubled, bookish teen who is overshadowed in every way by her beautiful and popular best friend, Abbie (Florence Pugh). Lydia loves Abbie -- almost to the point of obsession -- but is envious and judgmental of her friend's increasing interest in boys and sex.
"I was wondering how the all-girls, 1969 sexual hysteria thing was going to go down, but people seem to like it," she said. "The people that want to watch this sort of film are going to love it, and for others, it is going to be a bit strange -- but at least people are going to be talking about it."
Thanks to Game of Thrones, Williams has been a regular talking point in pop culture's biggest conversation since she started playing Arya Stark at just 12-year-old, so she's glad that The Falling is generating its own dragon-free buzz.
"How people can walk out of a cinema and just be like, 'Meh,' it's just so beyond me," Williams said with passion brimming beneath her large, pastel-pink sunglasses. "Movies are supposed to make you feel. They’re supposed to make you happy, sad, angry. They're supposed to make you feel something or at least talk about it, even if you hate it. I feel like that's what this movie does, so I'm thrilled."
Since this is her first feature film, Williams wanted to dive headfirst into a uniquely intense leading role, rather than disappearing into the student body of a clichéd high-school rom-com.
"It would be so much easier to do a high school film with an ensemble cast of like 13 high school kids, but this wasn't that," she explained. "[The Falling] is a very different level and the fact that it was set in 1969 really, really intrigued me. Everyone didn’t have a mobile phone hanging out of their bags so that was a nice touch. It really kept you in that world a little bit more and let you escape reality."
The global star is well-aware that audiences will have difficulty seeing Williams in a different role -- one where she's not a tomboy running around Westeros and slitting people's throats.
"I think [Game of Thrones fans] are going to think [Lydia] is very, very strange, but that's exactly why I wanted to do it, because for me this character is someone that I saw so much of myself in," she said.
Williams admitted that she worked very hard to overcome the Arya hurdle and convince The Falling's director Carol Morley that was the perfect person to take on the role as disturbed teen Lydia.
"I thought, 'How am I going to show someone else, who has only ever seen me as a tomboy Arya who assassinates people and is very strong willed, that this [character] is who I am?' And Carol just got it and I'm so thrilled that she did," Williams recalled. "I want people to dismiss their preconceived notions about the film and not fixate on the type of character that I'm going to play."
The actress continued, "I hope that people just watch this film with an open mind rather than thinking, 'Is she going to kill anyone again?!'"
The Falling will be released in select U.S. theaters as well as on Digital HD and Video On Demand on Aug. 7th from Cinedigm.