Game of Thrones actor Maisie Williams is speaking out about the dark side of fame, revealing how being in the spotlight negatively impacted her mental health.
While appearing on the podcast Happy Place, 22-year-old Williams opened up about how she “hated” herself for parts of her life and let negative criticism affect her. The British actor, who was only 13 when she joined the GOT cast as Arya Stark, said it’s been hard growing up on camera and pretending to always be happy.
“I went through a huge period of my life where I’d tell myself every day that I hated myself,” Williams told podcast host Fearne Cotton.
“It got to the point where I’d be in a conversation with my friends and my mind would be running and running and running and thinking about all the stupid things I’ve said in my life and all the people who’ve looked at me a certain way.”
Williams said that while she’s gotten better at squashing that self-criticism, the pressures of being a young celebrity can be incredibly challenging.
“This is why people go insane; I get it now,” she said.
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Williams, who is close friends with her GOT co-star Sophie Turner, also revealed she experiences anxiety. She said that by talking about her problems with her friends and family, she’s learned how common it is.
Earlier this year, Turner also opened up on Dr. Phil’s podcast, Phil in the Blanks, about her own experiences dealing with depression. Turner said that the negative attention she received from viewers was hard for her and that “social media scrutiny” really affected her.
“It was just a lot of weight comments, or I would have spotty skin because I was a teenager — and that’s normal — and I used to get a lot of comments about my skin and my weight and how I wasn’t a good actress,” Turner said.
Like Turner, Williams has been targeted on social media, too. While on the podcast, she said there was a period of time where she was becoming overwhelmed by online criticism.
“It got to me a lot because there’s just a constant feed in your back pocket of what people think of you,” she said. “It gets to a point where you’re almost craving something negative so you can sit in a hole of sadness, and it’s really bizarre the way it starts to consume you.”
Now that GOT is nearly over — the show’s finale is May 19 — Williams is looking to have a quieter life away from the series’ fame.
“Honestly, I want a normal life with people that I love and people I know are true and care about me,” she said.
“I don’t want any of this crazy, crazy world because it’s not worth it.”