Maisie Williams hits out at “badly written” female characters who are “only there to benefit a male lead”

The Game of Thrones actress discussed one-dimensional "girlfriend" characters with Doctor Who co-star Jenna Coleman

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Maisie Williams admits she has been lucky. Arya Stark in Game of Thrones – her first ever role – is a stone cold assassin, and she’s playing young Viking Ashildr in this Saturday’s Doctor Who. It’s miles away from the one-dimensional roles women are often lumbered with, but Williams is aware of how bad it can get.

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“I didn’t realise when I was younger that women were written so badly,” she told Radio Times, “but going further into this career I realised there are a lot of really bad characters, that it’s not common to come across females who aren’t just ‘the girlfriend.’” 

It’s a discussion that has extended to the set of Doctor Who, with Williams going to departing companion Jenna Coleman for advice. At the age of 29, Coleman has spent ten years working in the business.

“Me and Jenna were talking about it,” Williams explains. “When you get a script they always include a sentence or two about the character, something like – Jason: 36, strong, built, quick, witty and a description of his personality.

“There there’s his girlfriend – Sarah: hot, blonde. And that’s it! ‘Hot looking but in a cute way.’ That’s your character!”

Williams hopes she’ll “never have to play a character that is only there to benefit a male lead,” and she goes head to head with the Doctor in Saturday’s episode The Girl Who Died. 

Will she stick around after Coleman leaves? We’ll have to watch and find out.

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Read the full interview in Radio Times magazine, in shops and on the newsstand from Tuesday 13th October