Maisie Williams: 'This whole superhero world is just bonkers...but I love it'
There was much excitement when Maisie Williams joined the cast of Fox’s hotly-anticipated X-Men spin-off, ‘The New Mutants’. Here, she talks about the film and an actor’s life in a pandemic
She survived ‘Game of Thrones’, now Maisie Williams has turned mutant to take on the X-Men franchise with an adventure that is as much about love as it is about action.
The 23-year-old British actress admits she is glad ‘The New Mutants’ is finally getting a release after months of delays, primarily because of Covid-19, with Hollywood grinding to a halt and cinemas forced to close.
Now the world will finally get to see Maisie in her role as Scottish superhero Rahne Sinclair, AKA Wolfsbane.
Her character’s ability to turn into a wolf brings back memories of the Starks and ‘Game of Thrones’, of course, but Maisie insists this is very much new ground for her and the superhero genre.
First of all, her character is gay and her love story with Danielle Moonstar, AKA Mirage, (played by Blu Hunt) is as central to ‘The New Mutants’ as action and spectacular set pieces.
It’s all part of the star’s grand post-GoT plan and while she’s worried at the prospect of being unemployed due to the pandemic, she’s still excited about the future.
Here, Maisie talks about playing a New Mutant and a new kind of superhero, her real-life powers to combat anxiety, life in lockdown and how she’s making a name for herself behind the camera as well as in front of it.
Mag+: What can you tell us about ‘The New Mutants’?
MW: “It’s based within the X-Men universe and it’s about five teenage mutants. They start out in this correctional facility to protect them from the public and also from themselves. They are trying to harness their powers and understand how to use them.”
Mag+: Tell us about your character.
MW: “I play Rahne Sinclair, who is also known as Wolfsbane. Growing up, she went through a lot of trauma because of her power. She was raised as a Catholic and her pastor thought that she was a witch, didn’t understand her powers and really punished her for them. She just carries a lot of guilt of that and has always been very shy.
“Then she meets a character called Dani Moonstar who is joining the facility for the first time. Both of them feel like outcasts, they get to know each other very quickly, and they like to look out for each other and protect one another. It becomes a beautiful love story as well as a big superhero movie. It’s got a bit in there for everyone.”
Mag+: How did it feel to join another franchise with a huge fanbase straight after ‘Game of Thrones’?
MW: “It’s really exciting. I was really thrilled to get to play someone like Rahne because I have always seen myself as that character. She is very uncomfortable in her own skin, she wants to speak up and say how she feels but she’s constantly treading lightly. When I played Arya Stark, I always had to command the room, be really brave and strong. That’s kind of exhausting,and I don’t really feel like that.
“It was really lovely to play someone who is just sitting, watching and listening. She comes to life when she is with Dani but in the group she is somewhat quiet and to herself.”
Mag+: What kind of feedback have you had from X-Men fans so far?
MW: “The whole X-Men fanbase have just been incredible. They have just been so welcoming. This whole superhero world is just bonkers but I love it.”
Mag+: How do you cope with nerves when you are working on such a huge production?
MW: “When I’m nervous about anything, I’ll pace... all the time. Quite often when they’re setting up, they want you to just stand on your spot, but when all of that is going on it can just be really distracting. So from a young age, I have always just stuck my fingers in my ears, looked at the floor, paced up and down and just repeated stuff to myself like my lines or just anything about the scene, especially when things are really emotional.
“As a kid, I used to convince myself that these awful things were happening around me so I would repeat things over and over in my head just to be so zoned out from everything. I guess it’s like meditation, although I wouldn’t use that name for it. It’s just focussing intensely on the character, a scene or something that you need to say.”
Mag+: What was it like working with Blu Hunt who plays your love interest?
MW: “We did a bunch of chemistry reads to find Dani and from the first audition that I did with Blu, we got on so well. She was a joy to work with and it’s really wonderful to see a relationship like this in the typically quite masculine world of superheroes. It’s just lovely to see these two fragile women who protect one another and bring the light out in each other. I’m glad that the fans are so excited about it too because I think it’s really important to see relationships like this on screen. It’s a really lovely love story.”
Mag+: ‘The New Mutants’ is one of many big movies that have been delayed due to Covid-19. When was it originally due for release?
MW: “It was supposed to come out in April but it has been delayed a couple of times. It’s a bit of a joke now because it was first supposed to come out in 2017. Then it got delayed and delayed again and then this global pandemic broke out.”
Mag+: How has the ongoing situation affected you personally?
MW: “The thought of not working properly for a year or maybe more is a little bit worrying. As an actor, when you don’t work for a long time, you just don’t really know what your purpose is in the world because you are basically unemployed. Like so many people, I’m trying to stay busy doing other things, which has actually been really nice.”
Mag+: You have also turned your hand to producing. What can you tell us about that?
MW: “Yeah, I set up a production company called Pint Sized Pictures. My aim is basically to tell stories of young women, to work with incredible women and just have a go at making my own films. There’s so much about film-making that fascinates me and I just wanted a vessel to be able to do that.”
Mag+: What do you hope audiences will take away from ‘The New Mutants’?
MW: “I hope it will be a real escape for everyone. It’s a real family movie. Everyone is going to really love it. It’s a real feel-good film and a superhero film at the same time. I think it’s going to go down a treat!”
- ‘The New Mutants’ will be released online on August 28