For years, Arya Stark was focused on one thing: killing every person on her death list. But it ended a couple of names short, as other people, old age, or falling rocks got to her intended targets first. However, Game of Thrones actors Maisie Williams and Lena Headey both agree that there was one name Arya should’ve gotten the chance to cross off.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Williams shared how she was disappointed that Arya Stark didn’t end up killing Cersei Lannister—even if it meant her character would also die. (Instead, of course, the Hound convinced her to leave the crumbling Red Keep just in time.)
She also shared how, as she was reading the script for the penultimate episode, “The Bells,” she kept thinking she was finally going to come across the page where Arya and Cersei crossed paths for the final time.
“I wanted Arya to kill Cersei,” she said. “Even up to the point when Cersei’s with Jaime I thought, ‘He’s going to whip off his face [and reveal its Arya]’ and they’re both going to die. I thought that’s what Arya’s drive has been.”
She wasn’t the only one. Headey also told EW that Cersei’s death wasn’t like how she’d pictured it, and that she’d always thought Cersei would fall at the hands of Arya. “I lived that fantasy until I read the script,” Headey said. “There were chunky scenes and it was nothing that I had dreamt about. It was a bit of come down and you have to accept that it wasn’t to be.”
Headey did note that she thought Cersei’s final scene with Jaime Lannister was “poetic”, even if it wasn’t what she thought was going to happen. Williams also justified the final decision to have Arya leave King’s Landing instead of going after Cersei, even if it wasn’t what she wanted for the character. It showed how Arya had come full circle and found a reason to care about others again, partly thanks to being reunited with her family.
The Hound says, “You want to be like me? You want to live your life like me?” In my head, the answer was: “Yeah.” But I guess sleeping with Gendry, seeing Jon again, realising she’s not just fighting for herself anymore but also her family — it’s bringing up all these human emotions that Arya hasn’t felt for a long time. When The Hound asks her if she has another option, all of a sudden there are so many more things in [her] life that she can live for, that she can do. It was a shock for me because that wasn’t how I envisioned her arc going this year... It’s not a Game of Thrones ending for Arya, it’s a happy ending.
Whether you felt it was the right decision to have Arya survive, or a mistake, it seems the actors were sort of hoping for something else to happen to their characters as Game of Thrones came to an end. But there’s no way to change that now...unless you’re into fanfiction.