'Game of Thrones' Star Maisie Williams Says She Was in a "Child Cult Against Her Mother"

On an episode of the 'Diary of a CEO' podcast, actor Maisie Williams talked about the troubled relationship with her dad, being in a "cult" of sorts.

Jennifer Tisdale - Author

Oct. 2 2023, Published 1:09 p.m. ET

Maisie Williams attends the #BoF500 Gala during Paris Fashion Week at Shangri-La Hotel Paris on September 30, 2023 in Paris
Source: Getty Images

Maisie Williams

The Gist:

  • Actor Maisie Williams opened up about her difficult relationship with her dad.
  • She said her father was abusive, and she described it as being in a "child cult against her mother."
  • Maisie was able to take that pain and use it in her acting.
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It is widely accepted by Game of Thrones fans that Arya Stark is by far the baddest character in the series. From the moment we meet her in Season 1, we know she's not like other girls. Arya is a fighter who honed her sword-fighting skills, thus allowing her to pass them onto her sister Sansa Stark in the last season. As Sansa said, Arya is the strongest person she knows.

Arya's strength came from actor Maisie Williams, whose own courage was born from surviving a difficult childhood. While guesting on an episode of the Diary of a CEO podcast, Maisie alluded to some of the abuse she says she and her siblings suffered at the hands of her father. At one point she described her life as being in a "child cult against her mother." Here's what we know.

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Maisie Williams attends the Coperni Womenswear Spring/Summer 2024 show as part of Paris Fashion Week on September 29, 2023 in Paris
Source: Getty Images

Maisie Williams opened up about her father and being in a "child cult" against her mom.

Without going into too much detail in order to protect her mother and siblings, Maisie told The Diary of a CEO host Steven Bartlett that before the age of 8, she had a "traumatic relationship" with her father. Because of this, a great deal of her childhood was informed and affected by this alleged abuse. She admitted to having trouble sleeping and existing in a mostly anxious state.

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LIke most children, Maisie had no idea things in her household were not right. When this is the only life you know, it's tough to understand what you're feeling and even more difficult to label it as wrong. What she did see was the joy felt by other children, joy that Maisie couldn't access. "Why don't they seem to understand this pain, or dread, or fear," she would ask herself. "I always felt like I felt things very deeply, in comparison to other people."

Maisie's mother left her father when she was only 4 months old, a move she describes as "escaping" him. It wasn't until Maisie was 8 that she finally realized something was truly wrong. While at school, a teacher took her out of class and brought Maisie to the staff room where she asked what was wrong. It was clear Maisie was struggling. They learned that not only had Maisie skipped breakfast that morning but several mornings. Her mom came to get her. That was the moment things became clear.

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Every sibling but one was with Maisie's mom; the missing one stayed with her father. "It was the first time all the doors were sort of open," Maisie shared. Initially Maisie felt as if she was being taken from her father but later realized that reaction was due to the fact that she was almost indoctrinated into some sort of family "cult" that was primarily working against her mother.

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Maisie Williams understands her childhood wasn't her fault.

When asked how she feels about her father now, Maisie said she's trying not to "take things personally." By that she means, what happened in her childhood isn't her fault. That might sound obvious to anyone who didn't have childhood trauma, but as a kid, you often blame yourself for the actions of your parents. That shame can manifest itself in many ways as an adult. Forgiving yourself is key.

Maisie Williams and mother Hilary Williams are seen in Hollywood on March 24, 2015 in Los Angeles
Source: Getty Images

Maisie Williams with her mom Hilary Williams

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"If I wasn't there, it would have been someone else," said Maisie. "It wasn't because there's something wrong with me that these bad things happened when I was a child." Strangely what ended up helping Maisie process a lot of the anger she felt from her childhood was becoming an actor.

"I get to access all of that confusion and pain in my job, and I get to really feel it in every fiber of my being," she said. While acting, Maisie said, the best part is there are no consequences to letting these darker feelings out. She was unable to allow herself to show these emotions for so long that acting is cathartic.

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