The two characters have been in and out of each other’s lives in Westeros for a number of years, which means Joe has been working with Maisie Williams – who plays the youngest Stark sister – since she was a child.
Speaking to Esquire, Joe admits that this made filming the intimate scenes “strange”, telling the magazine: “That discomfort I had initially seemed to have been shared by quite a lot of people who have watched that episode, too.
“But I found the subsequent conversation actually really quite interesting.”
Explaining that he thinks the scene “force[d] people to confront their own hypocrisy in a way”, Joe continued: “I think the root cause of that unease and discomfort in a lot of viewers is because they feel like they’ve seen her grow up on screen.
“That’s something that happens to us all—we all start off young and then the majority of us start having sex and we’re all perfectly capable to finding that journey out for ourselves.
“But we still find it difficult to watch someone else take that journey, say, on a TV screen.”
A possible Gendry and Arya romance had been hinted at in previous seasons, and Joe added that it was the “most common thing” fans wanted to talk to him about.
“I always found that conversation quite uncomfortable at the time, particularly in the early years,” he said. “I was a 25-year-old man being asked whether I would like my character to get together with an at-the-time 14-year-old actress.
“It was always something I thought wasn’t fair to ask me personally... I felt there needed to be an understanding that even though what we’re making is fantasy, actual execution of that had to take place in reality.
“It was never really something I gave much thought to.”
Anyone hoping Arya and Gendry would make it official have had their hopes dashed (for now at least) as the Night King assassin turned down Gendry’s marriage proposal in episode four.
The failed proposal wasn’t the only heartbreaking moment of the episode either as another came when Jaime Lannister bedded (Ser) Brienne of Tarth, only to then leave her behind and return to King’s Landing.
And in the closing minutes, a third would-be couple were ripped apart in the most devastating way, when Cersei Lannister ordered the execution of one of them.
Read Joe’s full Esquire interview here.