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GoT's Maisie Williams gets wild for The New Mutants

Maisie Williams received critical acclaim and two Emmy nominations for her role as feisty Arya Stark in the hit TV series Game Of Thrones.

And now, the 23-year-old English actress is graduating to the big screen with the superhero horror flick The New Mutants, based on the Marvel Comics team of the same name and intended to be the last instalment of the X-Men film series. 

Opening here on Aug 27, it revolves around Rahne Sinclair/Wolfsbane (Williams), Illyana Rasputin/Magik (Anya Taylor-Joy), Sam Guthrie/Cannonball (Charlie Heaton) and Roberto da Costa/Sunspot (Henry Zaga), four young mutants being held in an isolated hospital for psychiatric monitoring. 

But when newcomer Danielle Moonstar/Mirage (Blu Hunt) joins them in the facility, the patients are plagued by hallucinations and flashbacks, and their new mutant abilities and friendships will be tested as they battle to try to make it out alive.

Off screen, Williams’ entrepreneurial career launched when she co-founded Daisie, an online platform that connects creative individuals, making it easier for them to showcase their work and collaborate on projects. 

As an outspoken activist in feminism and equality, her mission is to create a safe space for young artists, especially women.

How did director Josh Boone pitch the film to you?

It was shortly after my friend Sophie (Turner), who I worked with on Game Of Thrones, had just shot X-Men: Dark Phoenix and she had heard they were doing a spinoff. I didn’t know anything about The New Mutants and I had never read the comics. So Josh told me a little bit about Rahne and Wolfsbane, but it was very early days and there wasn’t even a greenlit script yet. So I spoke to Sophie about going from one running series into another possible long-running character, but I was thrilled.

What advice did Sophie give you?

She basically said eventually you are going to want to do something again which is either a franchise or a series because it’s really great exposure, and she was like, if you are happy with the longevity of the character and you have an idea of where the character is going in possible future films, then go for it. Plus, it really is just one movie and not like a series where you have to keep coming back year after year. In fact, there can be gaps of two to three years between movies, so it’s not quite as regimented as six months every year for the next six years. It’s so wonderful having Sophie as a friend and a voice of reason.

What kind of research did you do for Rahne Sinclair? 

I went with the script and was very happy with the way that Rahne was written, although at first glance she is very similar to Game Of Thrones in that she is a wolf and she has short hair. But then when I read into the actual character of Rahne I realised that she is far more of an introvert and is quite underestimated. She doesn’t have a very strong voice or impact on the group and it was nice to create a new character who isn’t so sure of herself. I actually didn’t read any of the comics, but I went on Wikipedia and got a rough back story about her. I truly believe that in trying to create someone like Rahne, you can find her by looking in lots of different places outside of the comic. You are not trying to mimic what you read and are actually trying to make someone authentic by breathing some real emotion into her. I have always been very outspoken and I have always wanted to be the centre of attention, which is very different to Rahne, so it was nice taking a step back and shaping someone that is far more in her head than a huge part of the group dynamic. 

Does part of her newfound discovery of her powers add to the fact that she’s going through teenage puberty so everything from physical to sexual is heightened at this facility? 

I really wanted to play on that. When we were doing the original screen test for the hair, the nails and the prosthetics, it was really interesting to look in the mirror and kind of feel gross and not really like what you see. I think that would be something that Rahne is going through. Girls and boys going through puberty lose a lot of confidence in themselves and a lot of that has to do with their image. And if you add on top of that the fact that you turn into a pretty strange-looking wolf girl, I think that is something that she struggles with. Plus, her sexuality and her religious background is ultimately what makes her quite an introverted character. And so it was all those layers that I built up rather than things that I read in the comics. 

So when you are interacting with the group, do you have the least amount of dialogue?

Yeah, absolutely, I would say so, and it’s been interesting because you have so much time to sit back and think about what your character would be thinking. A lot of my preparation is not doing dialogue work, but rather what is Rahne really thinking during those moments and what is she putting together that she can tell the group of what she has learned? And you finally do see her at the end start to speak out when she realises that she has a really important piece of information. These were tiny little struggles that are so miniscule in terms of the whole story, but for me, it’s what I have been sort of playing with throughout the whole film. It’s so nice to have played it that way because Rahne is starting to drive the story and power through to the end. 

The film is basically a character piece that happens to also be a horror film. This isn’t your typical superhero movie. 

I think it’s a great twist. The X-Men franchise has done so well that if you’re a little film like ours trying to go up against this huge pool of incredible movies, it’ll be impossible to compete. And so it’s so great that we have this movie that’s more of a horror film. I just think it’s a really smart thing to do and it’s just a great fresh new take on the genre. Also, seeing superheroes not know how to use their powers is something that fans don’t see unless it’s the first 20 minutes of a film. We really get to delve into the psychology teenagers who have struggled with the transition of being a child to being an adult and you indulge in this fantasy story that is quite reflective of how you feel like a complete freak at school sometimes. 

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