To celebrate the release of Two Weeks To Live Maisie joins Josh Smith for this week’s edition of UNFILTERED – our bi-weekly celebrity chat show – to talk about dealing her being an outsider, managing imposter syndrome and why the younger Maisie would said to the Maisie Williams of today, “you don’t know anything and shut up!”
Now, Maisie – who is never scared of a challenge – takes on the role of Kim in the new Sky comedy series, Two Weeks To Live. Kim is a young woman who after witnessing the murder of her father, is taken by her mother, Tina – wonderfully played by Fleabag’s Sian Clifford – begins life as a survivalist with her mother drip feeding her conspiracy theories about the outside world to prevent her from leaving.
Kim soon has enough and with her high heels on, she escapes for her first night out OUT down the pub where she meets brothers Nicky (Mawaan Rizwan) and Jay (Taheen Modak, who is funny AF, by the way). The pair prank Kim and pretend the world is ending in two weeks which leads to Kim skipping off, gun and all, to avenge the death of her father. In conclusion, it’s dramatic and hilarious in equal measure
At 23 years old, Maisie Williams has already been working for an entire decade. But as the tenacious person she is, Maisie won’t stop at just starring in the biggest TV show of all time, Game of Thrones, and garnering multiple Emmy award nominations.
Your comedic timing is epic in Two Weeks To Live and yet again you are slaying people with your fighting skills…
There are definite similarities, which is what I was so drawn to. But it was a lot more fun, a lot more heart lighthearted and not so much trauma! It was a really sad story and it is a really sad journey for this girl, but it was also really funny – even in the combat training and fighting. I don’t think that I have ever worked on a set that was just so freeing and so smiley – everyone needs to be able to have that fun on set and feel they’re not being judged. I felt as an actor, I was drinking in this new world of comedy that I had never really got to be part of before.
You always tend to end up on jobs where there’s this amazing camaraderie is there a time you can remember where teamwork really bringing you through and picking you up?
I think, honestly the most common time is on a film set. I think that these people see the best and worst of you because you’re just with each other constantly. It’s a really emotional experience. I would say that I do get a lot of energy from other people and I do really rely on other people to pick me up because I’m really not good at doing that myself.
So when I can get on a set and really get on with people, it will always make me do a better job because I have done a couple of things where I haven’t got on as well with people and when I watched the film, I can see it. I can see that I couldn’t do as well because I feed off other people so much.
Kim, as a survivalist, is really looking from the outside, in. Have you ever felt in your life a bit of an outsider looking in?
Yeah – all the time – because at school, I wasn’t in the cool group and as much as I was like, “I don’t really want to be in the cool group.” I really wanted to be part of the cool group. But I never really knew the how to go about it and I always went about it in the wrong ways. When I was insecure, instead of being friendly, I was the opposite and I think that’s quite common for a lot of people.
When I started acting, all of a sudden, this caught the attention of people and they were like, “What’s this girl doing here, how is she an actress?” Then I ended up being an outsider because, even though I was inside the acting world, I was even further outside of the reality world that I lived every single day.
I’d never trained to be an actor and because I started when I was really young, I didn’t really feel I was in the acting crowd. I didn’t really have acting friends or anything like that, so I’ve definitely felt like an outsider. I think even being an actress for over a decade now, I still have imposter syndrome, right? Where you’re asking yourself, “Oh, is this really what I’m supposed to be doing?
Am I actually going to do this for the rest of my life?” Maybe I should just stop overthinking everything and start, just doing you, right? Going out and having the dinners, having the brunches! But instead I’m sitting in my bed, thinking, “maybe no one wants we. Maybe I shouldn’t go out, maybe I shouldn’t leave the house.”
How have you dealt with that insecurity and learn to park it at certain times?
Just at the moment I’m in it – I really am in that right now. I think listening to yourself is the hardest thing to do and to truly know who you are. As an actor you do these interviews and people want to know your opinion on everything and I think admitting that you don’t have an opinion on everything because I don’t know everything about everything is important. I am trying to do that more.
When did you feel you had that turning point for you, that coming of age moment?
So I moved out when I was really young and I was quite alone, but then by the time I turned 18, 19, everyone else had moved out and gone to uni. I got this group of friends who are still my friends now, and we would just go out all the time. I lived in Bath at the time and we would just party every week and go out. On the Sunday, we’d go for some brunch, then everyone would go back to work and then the next weekend we’d do it all over again.
It was the perfect Summer and that was a time when finally, I felt I was doing something that other people were doing my age and I felt normal for the first time. I fitted somewhere and I guess, that was just a really amazing moment for me because I just, as we said, I’d always felt like I was outside looking in. For the first time I was like, “Oh, I belong with these people,” and I felt like a normal person – I felt just like I was thriving, and it was excellent.
That kind of sense of belonging is the greatest gift of all though isn’t it…
Absolutely. It’s just amazing because all of these things that didn’t make sense before and all of these questions that you are asking, they just all float away and you’re like, “Oh, this is all I wanted and all I needed.”
What did you used to ask yourself?
Oh gosh, this is very, very deep! You just ask yourself, “why am I an actress? Why me? Why did this happen to me? What is it about me that’s interesting? And okay, so if it’s this, this and this, why do I not think that’s very cool? And what do I think is cool in other people and why do I always think the grass is greener?” It’s just big first world problems, honestly.
Does all the combat work you do give you a deeper faith in the power of your own body?
I suppose it really does, because I think, like so many people, I struggle to do exercise. With fight scenes, I really can do it and I thrive. I’ll do it until six in the morning or however long it takes. You’ve just got find what fits, haven’t you? And for me, it’s these elaborate combat scenes in film! This was the first time in two years, I will actually be doing some physical exercise!
I guess as well, it makes you have a great faith in your body image as well…
Yeah, exactly. This is a good look. This is something that people should aspire to – this is a good image. This is a good thing to be putting out to the world and this is what should inspire people.
Was there a time when you were doing the stunts on set for this show, where it went wrong?
There’s a lot of bottle throwing. There was this boujee, sleazy bar in the basement of this guy’s house, we were throwing these bottles and I got three or four on the head. I was really sad about it but when you’re on a film set, you don’t want to cry like a child. But it’s late, and emotions are running high, but I was like, “I’m not going to cry, because it doesn’t solve anything.”
Later that night I was doing high kicks to the chest and I really did clip this guy in the grill. Sian later told me, “Yeah – I think his mouth ended up bleeding!” So, I was glad I didn’t cry!
You’ve been so lucky to have an amazing decade long career already. Does the success you’ve had give you less or more pressure going forward?
I don’t know about less or more pressure. It makes me so much more opinionated. I just criticize everything. I love everything that everyone else does and then anything that I do I’m like, “But was that really good? Or was it, really right?” At the time I thought, “yes, this is the decision that I should be making.” And then when it’s coming out, I’m like, “Oh gosh, was it right? Is this how I want to be seen?”
I think that’s just a bit of my own pressure on myself really. I want to do different things and people are never going to see that as success in their eyes, because they saw me on the biggest show on TV that there ever was. How are you ever going to go up from there? For me, it’s not really about going up from there, it’s about exploring this whole world that I haven’t had the opportunity to.
I think that it’s amazing to get to this point in my career because there’s so many people that are like, “What do you want to do? What is it that you want?” If you’ve never asked yourself that question, then it’s really hard to tell people. So, for me, it’s just been about figuring out what that is. I’m so lucky that I have these people that can enable me to do things. But you know, answering that question is half of the battle I think.
If you could say to you down who was starting off in Game of Thrones what would you want to say to her?
I would want her to enjoy being a kid and just do all this other fun stuff. I just wanted to allow myself to be freer. I used to be just so neurotic and overthink everything. I guess, she would probably say to me that, “you don’t know anything and shut up. You don’t know me.”
She’s was sassy – wasn’t she?
Yeah. She was. I had a lot of emotions!
What do you think Kim taught you?
I am the queen of overthinking everything. To play someone who says exactly what she’s thinking, there’s nothing more to it and to just shut my brain up, do the scene and have some quiet within myself I think was great lesson for me. I hadn’t thought about it until you asked me that question, but maybe I should be doing a little bit more of that in my life.
It was very therapeutic for you, then…
Being an actor is therapy. You have to just comes to terms with so many things about the people that you love and when you read a character and you think, “Oh, this reminds me of someone.” All of a sudden, after playing that person, you’ll be like, “Oh, I realize why that person is the way that they are now.” I’ll have a lot more sympathy around that because people are just trying to get by.