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Home » How Maisie Williams Used Yoga to Help with the ‘Devastating’ Mental and Physical Impact of Her New Look Role

How Maisie Williams Used Yoga to Help with the ‘Devastating’ Mental and Physical Impact of Her New Look Role

by Morgan Barker
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Maisie Williams was just 12 when she was cast as sword-wielding spitfire Arya Stark on the hit HBO series Game of ThronesOver the course of eight seasons her gutsy character grew into a hero, as off-camera Williams, now 26, simply grew up. She learned a few lessons, but she was able to keep the foibles of her teenage years mostly under wraps — especially since she joined Instagram after the show became a hit.

“I never have to look back and say, ‘I can’t believe I posted that!’ ” Williams says with a laugh.

Maisie Williams TCAs CTAM: Apple TV, Los Angeles, California, USA
Maisie Williams. ROB LATOUR/SHUTTERSTOCK

These days the British actress is a little more comfortable with her social media presence. She’s a fashion darling, too, appearing at the Met Gala, sitting front row at runway shows and lately showing off her love for ’40s-inspired ensembles.

That’s because she’s starring in The New Look, a new series on Apple TV+ that chronicles the world of Parisian couture as it collided with — and recovered from — the horrors of World War II. The characters are all names (and labels) still very much in business, including Christian Dior, Chanel, Balmain and Balenciaga.

“It’s ultimately a show about creation and survival,” says Williams. “What we see is these people making something beautiful from the darkest times in their lives.”

Maisie Williams as Catherine Dior in ‘The New Look’. APPLE TV

The show was an inspirational experience for Williams, who plays Catherine Dior, the sister of legendary designer Christian. “I knew the brand side of this story — I’m a big fan of Dior,” Williams says. “But I really knew nothing about the people behind it, the same as most people. It was just a real joy to learn about the people behind the story.”

Catherine, Williams points out, was a French resistance fighter during World War II. She was ultimately caught by the Nazis, tortured and sent to various camps before escaping and returning to Paris in 1945.

Williams says she did a lot of preparation to play the role. “I wore an actual pair of Catherine’s shoes that fit me perfectly — we were all a bit spooked when I put them on!” she says.  “I also read a lot, including this amazing book by Justine Picardie, Miss Dior, to dive into what this time would’ve been like for her.”

Williams also took steps to protect her mental health, given the harrowing scenes in Nazi-run camps. “That consisted of a lot of yoga, meditation and even isolation. I was confronted with the reality that these things actually happened to a lot of people. I had to acknowledge the darker parts of humanity and history.”

Maisie Williams, Ben Mendelsohn, Juliette Binoche, John Malkovich, Glenn Close, Todd A. Kessler and Claes Bang
Maisie Williams, Ben Mendelsohn, Juliette Binoche, John Malkovich, Glenn Close, Todd A. Kessler and Claes Bang at the premiere of ‘The New Look’ on February 12, 2024. KRISTINA BUMPHREY/VARIETY VIA GETTY

Viewers will notice Williams physical appearance changing throughout the series, to accurately portray Catherine’s weight loss in the camps. Williams felt it was important to accurately portray Catherine’s journey and struggle, but she did it very carefully.

“I worked with amazing people to make sure that I was being safe. But it felt like the right thing to do to lose some body mass and muscle to depict Catherine having come back from the camp.” She says she followed a regimen popular with boxers, “like fighters where they’re trying to make weight. They drop water weight. It had a devastating impact on the way I looked.”

For the actress, who spent her teenage years in elaborate costumes on the Game of Thrones set, she seems to be making a career in costume dramas. “Oh yeah,” she agrees with a laugh. “I now always ask who is doing the costumes! Or I won’t even audition.” She does reveal, in all seriousness, her next dream project.

“I definitely want to play a scary girl slash spirit in a horror film,” she says. “I would love to be unrecognizable. I wanna be The Grudge! I think it would be exquisite. Or maybe I could be the monster under someone’s bed, like a kid’s bed.”

How Maisie Williams Protects Her Mental Health on Social Media: ‘I Have a Burner Instagram Account’
MAISIE WILLIAMS/INSTAGRAM

Source: People

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