Maisie Williams, 25, who plays Arya Stark on the hit HBO series Game of Thrones, got candid about her “traumatic” childhood on the latest episode of The Diary Of A CEO podcast on Sept. 25. During the interview, she told the host, Steven Bartlett, about her experiences growing up with her dad. “Well, I, as a young child before the age of eight, had quite a traumatic relationship with my dad,” Maisie said. “I don’t really want to go into it too much because it affects my siblings and my whole family, but that really consumed a lot of my childhood.” Later in the interview, she went on to recount a memory of her childhood when a school teacher asked her if she was hungry, to which Maisie replied, “yes.” She also told her teacher that she didn’t typically eat breakfast.
After recounting this clearly painful memory, the Pistols star broke down in tears to Steven. “They were asking the right questions,” Maisie said before covering her face as she cried. “I do think it’s important because I had so many people who loved and cared about me so much, but I had never been asked the right questions where I could really say what was wrong,” she added. After her mom came to pick her up from school that day, the actress shared that it was “the first time that all of the doors were sort of open and all of these things that we were experiencing were out on the table.”
It was at this point during the interview that Maisie told Steven that she a part of “a cult” in her childhood. “I was indoctrinated in a way. I think that’s why I’m obsessed with cults. I get it. I get it. I was in a child cult against my mother… So I really was fighting it in the beginning,” she shared. “My whole world flipped on its head. Even though all these things that I was feeling, I thought ‘oh my God I’m so glad I don’t have to see my Dad anymore.’ It still was like against everything that I had ever known to be true.”
Steven also touched upon the idea of “two truths” and “conflicting emotions” once someone in a cult finds the ability to leave. Maisie added her feelings on that sentiment as well. “You can feel so liberated and free and at the same time that impending doom is kind of still there, all your problems don’t just go away,” she said. The 25-year-old also explained that once someone leaves a cult they can “still care about that person” and “understand the pain or whatever that led to those very very poor decisions.”
The podcast host then asked Maisie how she feels about her dad today. “To be honest with you I’ve been thinking about this a lot. I’ve been trying to do this thing where I stopped taking things personally … not just when someone’s had a bad day and they push in front of you in the queue. But the big things in life,” she said. “What if I said it wasn’t because of me that that happened? If I wasn’t there it would’ve been someone else. It’s not because something is wrong with me that these things happened when I was a child.”
She later went on to share that she always felt like she was doing something wrong as a child, but grew to recognize it was not about her specifically. “Especially because it was a parent, I felt like ‘oh they’re supposed to like you’ but then I was like ‘what if there’s no connection between me being his daughter’ and it could’ve been literally anyone experiencing that pain and it would still be the same,” Maisie added. The TV star concluded on this portion of the interview that being able to “separate” herself from her father’s behavior allowed her to “reflect” and even made her “more interested in the guy.” The nearly two-hour-long interview can be watched at the top of this story or on the The Diary Of A CEO’s YouTube channel.
If you suspect child abuse, call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child or 1-800-422-4453, or go to http://www.childhelp.org. All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.