Maisie Williams: ‘I’d tell myself every day that I hated myself’

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I really believe that among the unknowns cast at the beginning of Game of Thrones, Maisie Williams will be the first to break free from her character, career wise. Not that I don’t think the others aren’t talented, but Maisie has a depth to her that I don’t see often in former child actors. It turns out her maturity extends past just her acting ability. Maisie recently appeared on the Happy Place podcast in which she discussed mental health. Specifically, Maisie addressed feeling the need to behave perfectly because she was a child actor and yet, on the inside, she was tearing herself apart.

Maisie Williams is getting candid about her mental health.
During a recent interview on the Happy Place podcast with Fearne Cotton, the 22-year-old Game of Thrones actress shared that she felt pressure to act “perfect” as a young celebrity.

“I was so set on trying to look like I was really grown up and that I wasn’t going to ruin my life and that I was going to be a good actor who did all the right things,” Williams said. “It did take a lot of trying to be squeaky clean — I was a real teacher’s pet, but on the fame spectrum and not school.”

The star then said that she went through “revelations” in the last year and realized she wasn’t “happy doing this and pretending everything was fine.”
“That wasn’t a public thing but after going through that, now I’ve sort of tried to be a lot more genuine and it just becomes a lot more relaxing after that I think,” she explained. “You just drop it all and that’s when you can just really have fun.”

Though she says she’s grown a lot in the last year, Williams admits she still has a “journey” ahead.

“I still lie in bed at like eleven o’clock at night telling myself all the things I hate about myself,” she shared. “There’s still a journey, I think. But at least dropping the act and just being who you truly are, I think that’s definitely a first step.”

“I went through a huge period of my life where I’d tell myself every day that I hated myself,” the actress revealed. “It got to the point where I’d be in a conversation with my friends, and my mind would be like running and running and running and thinking about all the stupid things I said in my life and all of people who looked at me a certain way and it would just race and race and race.”

Williams then shared that she started to look “within” herself to figure out why she was having those negative thoughts.

“As soon as you start digging, you start asking yourself bigger questions than ‘Why do you hate yourself?’ but it’s more like ‘Why do you make yourself feel this way?’ I think the answers to all of these questions really are within you,” she explained.

[From People]

I’m going through a particularly stressful combination of situations at present. So stressful, it’s taken a physical toll. After decades of being told I was too distant and emotionless, I vocalized my stress in hopes that it would alleviate some of it. Almost as soon as I did, people in my periphery tried to get me to stop. They used my kids, my husband and anything else they knew was a hot button for me to get me to shut it back down. So I kind of identify with Maisie’s feelings about appearing one way and how that was, in some ways, thrust upon me. I certainly identify with thinking about all the stupid things I’ve ever done and focusing on my flaws, but it breaks my heart to hear that Maisie’s hating herself. She had so much pressure, both internal and external, so early in life. It sounds as though she’s recognized this and is addressing it. If she has that figured out in her early 20s, then I’m not worried how she will turn out. It sounds like she’ll come out on top.

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Photo credit: WENN Photos

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34 Responses to “Maisie Williams: ‘I’d tell myself every day that I hated myself’”

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  1. Weaver says:

    I love her kewpie doll face.

  2. Becks1 says:

    I’m so sorry she feels this way about herself. It sounds like she felt so much pressure to be perfect that it just ended up backfiring in a way. I am glad that she is talking about it though, and it sounds like she’s addressing it which is good.

    I do think she has the potential for a good career after GOT. I actually think a lot of the women do. But for her in particular, put her in different (modern) clothes and change her hair and I think people will quickly stop seeing Arya Stark.

  3. Jess says:

    I’ve been captivated by her this season, she’s always been a great actress but something seems different this year. She’s just amazing and I think she’ll have no problem breaking free from Arya.

  4. lana86 says:

    She’s so brilliant and charismatic <3 and so unique!!

  5. Sarah754 says:

    She is so awesome, and I’m glad she’s tackling those thoughts head on.

    I suppose in her industry it’s almost unavoidable, but like everything else in life, the way you handle it makes all the difference, and she seems to be handling it very well.

    Hecate, I’m sorry to hear that and I hope it gets better for you soon. Life can be pretty rough sometimes, especially when the people who are important to you don’t react to your changes the way you expect. Hugs😊 If youre open to suggestions, try looking up Louise Hay, her approach has fundamentally changed the way I view myself, and my life. I highly recommend her exercises too😊

    I hope there’s someone supportive around that you can talk to.

    • Hecate says:

      Thank you very much. It’s just life stresses but it’s a few different life stresses at one time. I am very fortunate that those who live under my roof are a constant source of comfort and support and for that, I am truly grateful. And for you all, I really am.

      • Malachite says:

        Hecate,
        I know personally how badly people can react when we change in some way. For me, it has been in drawing boundaries and being more honest about my needs and my experiences. I was not prepared for the blow back of people (most extremely close to me) when I eased just a tiny bit off my role as people-pleaser and always-available-unpaid-therapist to everyone. I started growing a spine and everyone I loved just seemed to want to break it.
        I am so glad the people closest to you, in your home, are supportive as you explore new ways to be with yourself and others! Those on the periphery of your life may take time to adapt to who you are becoming or you may find them no longer worth your energy. Sending you much support as you continue to struggle and grow.

  6. Kath says:

    Sophie Turner was on dr. Phil and also talked about her depression during Game of Thrones, and how her and Maisie kinda shut down together.
    It’s really sad to think about

    • Original T.C. says:

      Yeah I watched the interview twice. She talks about how her and Maise would both be depressed and isolate themselves from others.
      https://youtu.be/aO-nur8-OSY

    • ChillyWilly says:

      I like Sophie a lot, but Dr. Phi!? Really? He is such a turd.

    • hal says:

      Yikes. I think it is really great that both young ladies are able to be so open about mental health struggles. As the post said, if they’ve developed healthy coping mechanisms in their early 20s that is pretty commendable; however, it really makes me think about the immense pressure young actresses, particularly child actresses, must be under growing up and coming of age in the spotlight.

      • Otaku fairy... says:

        This. Something similar was mentioned in a Selena Gomez interview earlier this year. When it was time for her to do that Spring Breakers movie when she was 19, she either had a nervous breakdown or was on the verge of one because even though she wanted to do it, she lived in fear of losing that virginal good girl image that was demanded of her and the potential backlash.

  7. Erinn says:

    I really like her, and think she’s a pretty great actress. She’s done incredibly well for herself as far as coming out of being a child actor goes – and I feel bad that she put so much stress on herself. I understand to a degree – I’m my own harshest critic and it really is possible to beat yourself down for no reason.

    The only issue I can see her having when it comes to roles is the vanity of the industry. She’s not conventionally beautiful. I think she’s incredibly cute, but she’s not some long legged, stunning blonde. I’d personally rather look at someone who has so much expression and spunk like Maisie – so for me, she’s a perfect lead. I’d kind of like to see her in a darkish comedy? Something that can combine the drama skills she clearly possesses, but with a mix of lighter, fun aspects as well. I think she could really kill it.

    I really look forward to seeing where her career goes. I hope she has the kind of life she really wants, because god knows she’s worked her butt off and did an amazing job so far.

    • ByTheSea says:

      And yet, a “stunning. long legged blonde” like Sophie Turner has experienced the exact same feelings. I get what you’re saying, but beauty doesn’t always solve all of the world’s ills.

      • Erinn says:

        Oh absolutely not. I’m not saying it would make her feel better if she did look like that. But we all know that plenty of less talented women who DO look like that can have a long running career while more talented women get pushed to the side in the industry.

      • Naddie says:

        It’s not a shot on you, but we need to stop equating beauty with blonde hair and height. It’s more than proved, in and outside the industry that it’s not dominant when it comes to physical beauty : Natalie Portman, Angelina Jolie, Halle Berry, Megan Fox, Penelope Cruz, Salma Hayek, J-Lo. .. I could go all day. None of these are blonde with long legs.

    • Hmmm says:

      Hi ERINN, I think you’re right unfortunately. She doesn’t have “the look” of an actress, and in this industry that will be difficult to overcome.

  8. Embee says:

    What a wise person she is becoming — good for her.

    Hecate I can totally relate to your struggles. It’s been a few years but when I finally spoke up about my feelings/needs I was met with utterly blank faces, huge efforts to sweep everything other the rug and basically treated as though I hadn’t just been screaming for help. It has taken some time for me to understand that family of origin dynamics are at play, and everyone else is working NOT to create a best outcome, but to avoid having anything challenge/alter our family of origin dynamics. So it SERVES them if I am struggling/suffering because I am the black sheep/scapegoat, which is why I’ve never asked for help my whole life and when it got desperate I asked and … crickets. They like me there. Then they don’t have to face their stuff. I don’t know if any of this is helpful or resonates with you but I read so much pain in that paragraph about your life and I had to reach out to see if my workds could help. Lots of love.

    • CharliePenn says:

      EMBEE very insightful. Family of origin dynamics are intense, especially if there’s dysfunction. For me, having been raised by a borderline mother (what a nightmare), I can never ever rock that boat. It’s not worth the fallout.
      But Hecate I will tell you, I opened up to my friends and called out for help and so many of them were there for me! I lost a few who only wanted to see the smiling, easy, fun-time version of me. But my true friends were there, they were ready and they were amazing. It then helped me connect with my sisters on a deeper level and I just left my mom out of the whole thing. And I got help that I needed and love that I needed. I had to go a different route to get there due to the giant obstacle of family dynamics and a mental illness that we have all catered to since we were babies. Children of borderline parents learn that their feelings and needs are secondary, the only thing that matters is the feelings of that parent. That permeated so many relationships with people of my mom’s generation: my dad to whom I was very close outside of this issue, my aunts and uncles, I couldn’t ask any of them for help because of my mom. Borderlines make everything complicated and they make you live a lie. So I had to get the courage and tell my closest friends that I needed support.

      Keep asking for help, you’ll find those who are real and who are there for you! I hope you do because everyone deserves to call out for help and receive it.

      • auntiezana says:

        borderline mom here too! lots of hugs

        never rock the boat for sure! no contact is the way to go.

      • Embee says:

        Really helpful post CharliePenn! My mom is borderline as well. Shudder. Before I realized the nature of that personality disorder I once shared with her that I was in a desperate place, emotionally, and in need of love and support. Her response was to isolate the rest of the family from me with lies and fabrications. I swear I think she was testing to see if she could drive me to suicide. That’s a PD you don’t want to deal with AT ALL or only on your very strict terms. Lots of hugs to you and auntiezana both. We can choose our families, now.

      • CharliePenn says:

        EMBEE yes it’s really hard to have a mother you can’t tell anything to, who you have to protect yourself from at all times. I’m so sorry you went through that. It’s all really sick behavior from your mom.
        By the time I was 13 I already had no trust in my mother (although I thought it was all my fault, she was always blameless until I got into therapy as an adult, and understood what was happening). It’s pretty intense for a 13 year old to not tell her mother that she got her first period, right? But I hid it from her. Information is ammo to borderlines.

    • Hecate says:

      Thank you. I’m probably being more dramatic than I should be. Yesterday was a beast.

      But I’ve got you all here with me so I’m good – *bissous*

    • LawyaGal says:

      Embee – thank you for sharing this! I could not agree more about family of origin dynamics. I am the fixer in my family – everyone dumps their issues/problems on me since childhood. I was recently diagnosed with post partum depression and reached out to my mother and siblings for support (in an attempt to be honest/vulnerable) and found them uninterested and downright hostile to my pleas for help. I am working with a therapist now to draw boundaries and prioritize my own self care and it has been ROUGH to say the least… sending hugs your way

  9. Lucy says:

    I just want to give her (and Sophie) a hug. Arya Stark has touched me like no other fictional character ever has, and a big part of that is because of Maisie’s portrayal. I wish her a long, fulfilling career and a life full of happy moments.

    • hal says:

      Having younger sisters in their late teens/early twenties and having gone through some stuff in college myself I totally want to give Maisie and Sophie a hug too! Young adulthood can be hard enough. I literally cannot image having to navigate it in the public eye on top of already having to undergo puberty in front of millions.

  10. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    I would like to say we all have that negative Nancy voice in our heads going off 24/7, but I think some are really good at overcoming. I am not. Never have been. My inner voice is, quite simply, a mean bitch. But only to me. And as I’ve aged, she’s gotten louder most likely because I’ve gotten better at refocusing. If anyone in your orbit impedes positive improvements, you must tell yourself, loudly and often, you’re not doing this for them. So many people around us subconsciously or consciously do not want success for us in any way because it threatens the relationships we already have. I’m not criticizing or suggesting family and friends are evil seeking sociopaths bent on capitalizing off our failures. I’m saying it’s human nature to resist change.

    But you must work to quiet the inner voice, and the best way is to focus attention on projects, learning new skills and, of course, retraining that voice to speak positively or be gone lol. It’s true though, mine is never truly gone because our inner voice is us, but you can beat it down with mantras you’d prefer hearing. It’s an ongoing process, and it’s for life. Kinda like working out and eating right! Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Oh that’s right, one more thing, embrace imperfection. Enjoy the losses because they make you smarter so tell your inner voice to put THAT in her pipe and smoke it.

  11. ByTheSea says:

    @Hecate, so sorry you’re going through that. I always enjoy your posts (a combination of humor, self-deprecation and truth). I hope all turns out well.

  12. ChillyWilly says:

    Maisie strikes me as an old soul. She seems to be intelligent and has a good sense of humor. I think she is gonna be just fine. And so is Arya Stark (I hope, please??).

  13. Naddie says:

    Self hating is so addictive, I feel her on this.

  14. Kate says:

    @Hecate I can relate. It’s so hard to open up and change your behavior when you are met with reactions from people who do not understand that growth. I notice now when I talk matter of factly about things I’m struggling with, my family and friends that I’ve known from childhood who are not “look inward” types will try to minimize the problem as opposed to empathize. They do this with themselves too – like saying something they’re unhappy about and then quickly “oh well” and brush it away. Same with trying to be more direct and asking questions. Some people shut you down so fast and want to shame you for asking a question they think is obvious or stupid and I realize it’s not personal against me but it’s always a reminder of why I have for so long tried to be self sufficient and not bother people.

  15. Patty says:

    She’s a really good actress. I could see her carving out a career as a character actress, but sadly, for Hollywood, she would not be considered conventionally attractive enough for most of their movies. Tis a pity, because she’s a way better actress than Sophie Turner. Although I’ll be honest, I’m worried about all of their careers post GoT.