The petite Lady of Bear Island first showed up in season six and instantly won viewers over with her brusque, no-nonsense leadership skills and her firm resolve even when talking to people three and four times her age. This fearlessness has carried on to the current season, in which she immediately dresses down Jon Snow in front of the leaders of the other northern houses, telling him, “You left Winterfell a king and came back a b— I’m not sure what you are now.”
Here, the Cut talks to 15-year-old Bella Ramsey about playing Lyanna, what she has in common with her character, and what she’ll miss most about her.
Everyone was so excited to see Lyanna back in the first episode of season eight. Were you surprised that she became a fan favorite the way she did?
I was. Yeah, I didn’t expect it at all. I just turned up, did my filming, and would see what happens. I wasn’t sure whether people would like her or not, because she’s quite a unique character. But I’m very glad and very grateful that people do like her.
Do you get recognized a lot now?
I do, yes. Especially now that the new season’s out, people are starting to recognize me a bit more because obviously they’ve recently seen me on the TV.
What appealed to you about the role when you first read the script?
I respected her. She was just words on the page, but I really felt a sense of her. I was already rooting for her. She’s a badass.
What are some of your favorite things about Lyanna’s character?
I like how strong she is — mentally, physically, personality-wise. I like how she sticks up for what she believes in, no matter the cost or the consequences. I really admire her confidence, how she can just stand up without flinching in front of all those people.
How did you prepare to play the role? Were there any actors or characters who inspired you?
I actually hadn’t seen Game of Thrones. Watching it now — I’ve still not watched it all, but the bits that I’ve watched — I feel like Brienne of Tarth. They’re kind of kindred spirits. They’re both these females who are sticking up for what they believe in and proving that girls can be just as strong as boys, women can be just as strong as men.
Lyanna’s face is always so stern and serious in every scene. Were you ever worried about breaking character?
I think if the scenes were funny, then it would’ve been hard. But all the scenes I did were quite serious, so it wasn’t difficult. Certainly if it was a comedy sequence, I’d find that a lot harder.
Now that you’re watching the show, are you rooting for anyone to come out on top?
I still haven’t watched it all because I’m only 15. So I didn’t really have a clue what was going on, but I really like Arya. She’s little and powerful. There’s this great line from the show Matilda: “Even if you’re little, you can do a lot. You musn’t let a little thing like this stop you.”
Besides Brienne and Arya, do you have any other favorite characters?
I like Samwell Tarly. I really, really like him. I think he’s kind of the odd one out in the Game of Thrones world because he’s more quiet and reserved. I relate to him on one level as well.
Can you tell us a little more about what we can expect from the character this season?
I can’t really say anything. You’ll have to just wait and see.
What will you miss most about playing her?
I think the opportunity to stand up in front of a load of grown men and shame them. I think playing confident characters also helps with your own confidence. Say you’re in a situation where you’re feeling anxious or nervous — you can become a character and work through it that way. I’ll miss that about her.