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Game of Thrones' Bella Ramsey

22 August 16 words: Lucy Manning

Whenever I became Lyanna, it didn’t feel weird telling these grown men what to do.

photo: David Baird

Tell me a bit about Lyanna Mormont...
The Northerners – Jon Snow, Sansa and Davos – were going to all the different houses to see if they would make allegiance with them to go and fight. They came to the Mormonts’ house, and greeted me like I was a child, which I didn’t like. I like Lyanna’s fierceness and maturity – I have that in common with her. Not so much the fierceness, but everyone always says, “I can’t believe you’re only twelve.”

You almost ride into battle…
Yeah, and give Ramsay Bolton the death stare.

You do a lot of those! You even raise a hand to shut up one of your elderly advisors...
I’ve started doing that as a joke now. If someone’s telling me something that they know I don’t wanna know, I just put my hand up.

How did you feel when you found out you got the part?
I’d just finished school and came out to see my mum, she whispered to me, “You got it!” I was like, “Yeah!” and she had to tell me to shush because we weren’t allowed to tell anyone. I had to keep it quiet for about a year from when I found out to when it came out. It was really hard.

How did you prepare for the role? Did you start bossing your parents about?
After the audition, we were at the dinner table and I kept being Lyanna. My mum got really scared of me because I wouldn’t stop. If anyone started laughing at the table I just said, “Don’t laugh in my house. You don’t laugh at me. Pass me the salt.”

What was working on a TV set like?
I loved it. They were really open to helping me. I had the script quite far in advance and a dialogue coach who helped me with the accent. On set, to start with, I just did the scene as I thought I should, and then the director would give me some tips on how to improve. I had to do some ADR [Automated Dialogue Replacement] and that was really hard. I was watching it on the screen, and had to match my voice exactly to my mouth, but I had the old way I was saying it playing in my ears – it was really confusing.

Who was your favourite cast member?
I liked all of them, they’re all really funny. I met everyone I was in the scene with, and Peter Dinklage who was really cool. I also met Emelia, who plays Daenerys. I was the only child on set but they didn’t treat me like one, which was good.

What was your favourite part to film?
I really liked standing up to all the lords at the massive dinner. The studio that we filmed that in was really hot. That was the only downside. If it wasn’t for the heat, that would definitely be my favourite.

Have you been able to watch the series?
No, but I’ve seen my scenes.

It’s very violent. Did you see anyone in any special effects makeup?
I saw The Mountain, who had these incredible prosthetics on. It was really weird because we were getting introduced, and he couldn’t really speak because of all his prosthetics. He was just staring at me. I didn’t know how to speak to him.

Have you been recognised at all?
Only once by a stranger, a waitress in a restaurant. She was like, “Is she from Game of Thrones? Can I get a picture with her?”

What was your first audition through the Workshop like?
I didn’t know what to expect. It was down at Workshop, for the new BFG film. I did all the script, and then they asked me if I’d ever had a dream that I could still remember. I told them about this really weird one: this farmer was chasing me, and he had an army of dogs with him. That was what made them start looking for parts for me, because they said they saw how animated I was. They said I didn’t have the ‘Hollywood’ look for the BFG, but said they would keep looking out for stuff for me. I always say to people that all this acting has come from my farmer dream.

Have you always wanted to be an actress?
I always knew I wanted to be, but it was always imaginary. The first thing I did was an amateur production of Music Man. That was my first audition and I got the main girl part of Amaryllis. I still thought it was just for fun until I joined the Television Workshop two years ago. Then it became a serious thing that could actually happen.

What would you do if you weren’t an actress?
I want to work with special needs children, doing theatre with them. Dancing, singing and acting – to make a safe space for them to come and just be who they are.

What’s your favourite thing about the Television Workshop?
The support. Whenever anyone gets a part, even if other people auditioned for it, they’re still so happy for the person who got it. It’s like a big family. There’s never any rivalry. It’s cliché that some stage schools have a lot of rivalry, and people get annoyed if someone gets a part, but it’s nothing like that at Workshop.

A lot of the stuff you do at Workshop has an emphasis on keeping things natural and real. Do you think that helped you with your character in Game of Thrones?
Yeah. Whenever I became Lyanna, it didn’t feel weird telling these grown men what to do. It felt really natural.

Have you seen the memes people have been making about you?
It’s so weird, but funny. My favourite meme is about the European Union, it says “House Britain has kept faith with House Europe for forty years. We will not break faith today.” But we did...

If you were queen for a day, what would you do?
I’d probably do nothing and eat loads of scones. If I could make a rule, I just wouldn’t want any wars. I’d make a spell to make everyone nice.

Would you rather have a pet dragon or a giant as your best friend?
Dragons are cool, but you can actually speak to giants. Also, I could basically fly on the giant’s finger.

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