Maisie Williams says that filming her latest role as a victim of cyberbullying was even tougher than playing the beleaguered Arya Stark in Game of Thrones.
The 17-year-old actress, whose character in the fantasy drama has experienced more than her fair share of suffering over the past four series, plays a teenage girl called Casey who is targeted by an online suicide troll in Cyberbully.
“It is the most intense shoot I have ever been a part of – it was eight days, it felt like about a year,” she told RadioTimes.com. “But in a very good way – a very tough way.
“It was even more demanding in a way than Game of Thrones. There I am, a small part of a huge production whereas this time I was the main part of the production. It was daunting, I was very nervous.”
She added that Cyberbully – which is filmed entirely in her character’s bedroom – hinged on very small moments.
“It was amazing how little things became so intense. When I waited, say, for a reply from the cyberbully it had the tension of a big explosion or a horse chase or a sword fight. And there was none of that in this. But here something really small that happens, a sound in the room, becomes huge.”
Williams prepared for her new role by watching the box set of Buried, the film in which Ryan Reynolds’ truck driver Paul Conroy finds himself buried alive in a wooden coffin.
“It was kind of what we had to do, but we had a whole room to play with, which was nicer…”
The actress admits she also had some personal experience of being bullied online to draw on.
“I’ve been sat on a train right next to my mum with my phone in my hand and reading all sorts of abuse,” she said. “I felt completely on my own.”
And she said it was Cyberbully’s authentic treatment of online issues affecting the young that her attracted her to it.
“When I read the script it was something I could completely relate to and it was done in a way that wasn’t patronising to the younger generation. I’m sick of programmes that use all this text language – friends texting each other with BFF in a way they never would – and the way this played on that. In fact, this was used against our cyberbully, our hacker [when he uses terms no teenager would use].
“I just thought it was a very current subject and something I feel passionately about.”
Cyberbully airs on Channel 4 on Thursday 15th January at 9pm