Why Arya Stark Was the Hardest Game of Thrones Character to Cast

Helen Sloan, HBO
Helen Sloan, HBO

Choosing acting talent for a cast as large as the one in Game of Thrones is a daunting task. It’s hard to imagine the show if the creators chose someone other than Peter Dinklage to bring to life Tyrion Lannister. Or if they had stuck with Tamzin Merchant, who played Daenerys Targaryen in the original (unaired) pilot, instead of putting Emilia Clarke in the role.

What made casting even more difficult is the show’s length. Over the span of eight seasons, certain characters are bound to have some major developments. And the younger characters are going to grow up.

Co-creator and showrunner David Benioff discussed those struggles during a SXSW Q&A in 2017. "[Arya and Sansa] start so young, but we knew if the show worked, [the characters] were going to go to extremely dark places, so it was a tricky thing, casting people and just hoping they would blossom into the women that they've become," Benioff said.

Ultimately, according to Benioff, it was Arya who ended up being the hardest character to cast—which is fitting, as she is often the most hard-headed character on the show.

"I remember we probably looked at 300 girls in England and could not find the right Arya," Benioff said. “We just could not cast her. We were sitting in this hotel lobby in Morocco—the only place we could get wireless—and looking at casting videos.”

The role ended up going to now-21-year-old Maisie Williams, who started playing Arya at the age of 12.

“There was a little thumbnail picture of Maisie Williams,” Benioff continued. “There was just something about that little tiny thumbnail face that just seemed right. She looked about 7. Like she was 12, but going on 7. So we clicked on the audition video and waited about 40 minutes for it to download. When we saw that audition video she was just f***ing awesome.”

In the years since Game of Thrones made its original premiere, Williams has made an indelible impression on both viewers and her co-stars. Sean Bean, who played Arya's dad in season one, believes that Ned Stark's youngest daughter may be the only character to make it out of the series finale alive. Williams herself has described Arya's final scene as "beautiful."

Game of Thrones will begin airing its final season on HBO in April 2019.

A Stranger Things Fan Is Selling Epic Demogorgon Dog Costumes on Etsy

Joe Keery, Maya Hawke, Priah Ferguson, and Gaten Matarazzo in Stranger Things.
Joe Keery, Maya Hawke, Priah Ferguson, and Gaten Matarazzo in Stranger Things.

Stranger Things is great at placing the truly terrifying alongside the absolutely adorable. One minute we are gushing over Eleven and Mike’s teen romance, and the next we’re jumping off the couch at the sight of those possessed by the Mind Flayer.

No matter how seamless the Duffer Brothers' Netflix series is in weaving together these moments, it seems like it would be impossible to make the Demogorgon cute. But somehow, one crafty fan has done just that.

Etsy shop ThatCraftyFriendShop has created Demogorgon headpieces that fit perfectly on your dog’s head.

People reports that the headpieces range in size from extra small (for 5- to 10-pound dogs) all the way to extra large (for dogs over 75 pounds). Prices range from $25 to $75, depending on the size of your four-legged friend.

These wool and felt doggy costumes are perfect for Halloween, or even a Stranger Things watch party while you continue to binge and re-binge the third seasonwith a decked-out doggy by your side.

[h/t People]

J.K. Rowling Reveals How San Francisco Inspired Major Harry Potter Location

Jamie McCarthy, Getty Images
Jamie McCarthy, Getty Images

The award-winning play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is about to open at the Curran Theater in San Francisco. The two-part drama takes place 19 years after the events in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and depicts Harry’s life as his son, Albus, is about to begin school at Hogwarts.

J.K. Rowling has pointed out that San Francisco had a deep influence on the original Harry Potter novels, SFGate reports. In the video below, Rowling talks about how Alcatraz, the infamous former prison, inspired her creation of Azkaban.

"[San Francisco] is a very distinctive, special place—I love the feel of it, I love the architecture,” Rowling said. “I've actually said this before, but Azkaban is a combination of Alcatraz and Abbadon, which is an old word for hell. I squeezed those words together. The idea of the rock in the middle of the ocean was directly inspired by a visit to Alcatraz."

With its mist and Gothic mood, it’s no wonder this slice of San Francisco inspired a big part of the Harry Potter world.

[h/t SFGate]