In an interview on Steven Bartlett’s Diary Of A CEO podcast, the 25-year-old discussed her life before she catapulted to stardom at age 12 as Arya Stark in the hit fantasy drama and spoke about the lasting effects of her childhood on her mental health.
“Well, I, as a young child before the age of, like, eight, had a traumatic relationship with my dad,” she explained. “And I don’t want to go into it too much because it affects my siblings and my whole family.
“But, like, that really consumed a lot of my childhood. Ever since I can remember, I’ve really struggled sleeping. And I think a lot of the traumatic things that were happening, I didn’t realise that they were wrong.”
Maisie said her mother “escaped when I was about four months old”.
She then share that when she was eight, the situation with her father “had met its peak”, and a teacher at her school took her to the staff room and asked her what was going on.
“And she was saying, like, ‘What’s wrong,’ you know, like, what’s happened? Are you hungry?’ ... ‘Did you eat breakfast?’ I said, ‘No.’ And she said, ‘Oh, why not?’ And I said, ‘We just don’t have any breakfast.’ And then she says, you know, ‘Do you normally have breakfast?’” she recalled.
“They were asking the right questions,” Maisie added, breaking down in tears.
“My mum came to school and picked me up. It was the first time that all of the doors were open, and it was the first time things were on the table,” she said.
“I still wanted to fight and say these things aren’t wrong, that you’re just trying to take me away from my dad.
“I was indoctrinated in a way. I think that’s why I’m obsessed with cults,” she added. “Because I’m, like, I get it. I get it. I was in a child cult.”
Ultimately, Maisie said, she was glad she didn’t have to see her dad anymore, but she still struggled with conflicting emotions.
“You can feel so liberated and free and at the same time, just like that impending doom is kind of still there,” she said.
Maisie also added that she battled identity, anxiety and mental health issues as a child and young adult but that she’s been coming to terms with what she experienced.
“To be honest, I have been thinking about this a lot. It’s not because of me that these bad things happened when I was a child,” she told the host. “I thought it was. I thought there was something inherently wrong with me, that it could be anyone experiencing the pain.
“It made me more interested in the guy. What could make you mistreat your own children? What happened to you as a kid? Did you pull the legs off bugs? Did you learn all this?”
“That’s how I feel about him now. He would make a fascinating documentary.”
Maisie has spoken in the past about how her mental health suffered from an early age from a combination of fame and negativity on social media.
“I went through a huge period of my life where I’d tell myself every day I hated myself,” Williams said at the time.
In her latest interview, Maisie revealed she drew on her traumatic childhood experiences as a young actor on Game Of Thrones.
“I was doing interviews, and I remember people sort of being, like, but you’re so young. How do you show this pain?” she recalled. “And in my head I was, like, ‘That’s a really stupid question.’ Because I’ve known how that feels.”
“It’s hugely influenced everything that I do as an actor. I get to access all of that confusion and pain in my job, and I get to really feel it in every fibre of my being.”
Watch the podcast episode below.