Hannah Murray has played wildling Gilly since Season 2 of HBO’s Game of Thrones. Now that the show is airing its final episode, Murray is looking ahead to other projects, like the film Charlie Says, about the women in Charles Manson’s cult (Murray plays Leslie Van Houten). The movie is set to premiere May 1 at the Tribeca Film Festival. Murray chats with us about being part of Game of Thrones, her favorite scenes to film, growing up on the show and what’s next for her.
How does it feel being part of something as epic as Game of Thrones? HANNAH MURRAY: I don’t know if it’s really sunk in yet. The show is just coming to an end right now as we’re airing the final episode. I always feel like I can’t hold the truth in my mind that it was an amazing huge phenomenon and I was in it. I can think of them separately, but not at the same time if that makes sense. I’m still figuring out what it means to have been a part of the show.
What was it like to film the iconic scene with Gilly and Sam discovering the truth about Jon Snow? How hard was it to keep it a secret? HM: It was really fun to shoot the scene. I was so excited when I read it that I got to be the one to drop that information bomb. I had a lot of fun with it. We had a great director who allowed me to play around with it as well. John and I have a great working relationship now—we bounce off each other really well. I’m terrible at keeping secrets! I always want to tell everyone as soon as I found out but I managed to keep that one under my hat for a record amount of time, so that was good.
What was one of your favorite scenes in GOT to film over the years? HM: There’s a scene that stood out for me in Season 3 where Sam and Gilly talk about what to name their baby. It’s so sweet and funny, I feel like it’s where they become a family unit for the first time. Before that, they are these two individuals that are wary of each other and treat each other very delicately. You see them really come together and become co-parents in that scene. I thought it was very beautiful and John and I enjoyed working on it and building our onscreen relationship together.
How did it feel to grow up on the show? HM: It’s been my 20s. That’s obviously such a significant time in anyone’s life for growth and development. It’s always been this spine running through my life that’s always been there. I could always go back to the show and grow with the other people on the show as an actor and person. It feels very weird to have it now not be there anymore. I also feel like it did turn out well that I turn 30 in June and I can start this new chapter in my life as a milestone of turning 30 and finishing the show. The fact that the two are coinciding in the same year feels quite affecting to me.
If you could take anything from set or any part of Gilly’s wardrobe, what would you take? HM: I did take something and everyone thinks this answer is really dull. I took a pair of waterproof socks during season four. They have these amazing, high-tech waterproof socks that keep your feet incredibly warm and dry. We filmed in such wet and muddy conditions you really need them. In between filming Game of Thrones I would often work on independent movies that didn’t have the budget for waterproof socks and I needed them to stay warm and dry. It’s the one thing I took from set that is so unsexy and unglamorous. It’s not like a sword or dragon’s egg or anything cool.
Your next project, the film Charlie Says, is about how Charles Manson follower Leslie Van Houten was transformed into a cold-blooded killer. What was it like filming such dark material? HM: It feels to me like such an important story. We see Leslie both going into that darkness and coming out of it and becoming un-brainwashed in the duration of the film. She rediscovers herself and waking up as to why she’s done these terrible things. It’s an important, female-driven story. I think it correlates well with everything going on right now. There’s a huge awakening that’s going on for women right now. It’s an incredibly dark story but I felt like I could relate to it and empathize with her. It’s so extreme what she did and so extreme the circumstances she was subjugated by this awful man. I just feel like I cared about her when I read the script. She was an ordinary girl, she was homecoming queen. She was not the kind of person you’d expect would do something like that. I really wanted to understand why she’d give up her power to a man like that and what it feels like to recognize the truth of what you’ve done after the fact. I thought it was an important story to tell. They’re always referred to as the Manson women as a group. Before I got involved in the project, I didn’t know Leslie’s name. I didn’t know the Manson women as individuals. That’s what we’re really trying to do, tell their story rather than his.
What was it like working with Sosie Bacon and Chace Crawford, who were your costars in the movie? HM: We had such an incredible cast. It was an amazing group of people. Everyone was so committed to the project. Sosie and Marianne [Rendon], who played the other two female leads are close friends of mine now.
What’s next for you? HM: I’m going to take some time to figure out what I’m going to do next. With the show coming to an end, it’s a real turning point for me potentially, if I allow it to be. I’m excited to move forward and work on other things I’m passionate about.