Life in Westeros has been brutal for nearly every character on Game of Thrones, and you’d be hard-pressed to find one who hasn’t changed over the course of the series. But according to showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss the Game of Thrones character who has changed the most is Sansa. And it seems some of those changes came courtesy of Sophie Turner’s immense talent as an actor.
Compared to many of the other characters, Sansa’s journey has been incredibly dark. Her growth is rooted in a whole lot of pain and a steely resilience that has allowed her to grow from a child dreaming of marrying a prince to a savvy woman with sharp instincts. Even Arya thinks her sister is the smartest person she’s ever met. She’s had to be in order to survive being in the lion’s den that was King’s Landing after her father’s death and the terror that came with being wed to Ramsay Bolton. Still, in the hands of a lesser actor, the full extent of Sansa’s growth wouldn’t be quite so apparent as it is thanks to Turner’s measured performance.
In a new interview with Entertainment Weekly, Benioff explained how Turner’s talent has guided Sansa’s growth over the years. "I don’t think too many people watching the first season had any expectation that Sansa would become the woman that she became. And part of that is the story and part of that is Sophie Turner and the phenom she turned out to be as an actress. We knew when we cast Sophie that she was this really good child actor but we had no idea she’d become the force that she’s become."
When filming on Game of Thrones began in 2010, Turner was just 14. Prior to the series, she had no acting credits, but in the years since she’s landed leading roles in films including X-Men: Apocalypse and the upcoming Dark Phoenix. At 23, she’s proven she can tackle every emotional storyline thrown her way, and bring her characters out on the other side stronger than they were before.
In an October interview with EW, Turner revealed that in Season 8 Sansa will come into her own in new and exciting ways. "[She] really comes into her own this season. It’s a whole new series for her. She’s been kind of lost. She doesn’t know who she wants to be or who wants to surround herself with. This season, she is very self-assured," the actor told the publication.
Part of that self-assurance seems to radiate from Turner herself. As an actor, she’s grown every season and helped make Sansa one of the show’s most fascinating characters, and on a series that includes the likes of Tyrion, Jaime, and Arya, that’s no easy task. As Benioff explained, "She started out so naive and was forced to undergo the most brutal possible education into the world but emerged from it and became this powerful figure and kind of against all odds."
In Season 8, Sansa’s still standing and she’s stronger than ever before. And while a great deal of credit goes to the well-crafted storyline that brought her to this point, it’s hard to imagine The Lady of Winterfell as anyone other than the magnificent Turner.
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