This interview contains spoilers for the “Game of Thrones” Season 6 finale, titled “The Winds of Winter.”
Sunday’s “Game of Thrones” finale saw the power shift in Westeros once more, with Cersei Lannister seizing the Iron Throne after the death of her son, Tommen, and Jon Snow being declared King in the North, moments after the audience learned that he’s actually the son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen, and not Ned Stark’s bastard at all. Unfortunately for Jon, his new leadership role comes with new enemies — some closer to home than others, with Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish already plotting to undermine him and marry Sansa in his quest for the Iron Throne.
And even though Sansa has no love for Littlefinger, after years of being underestimated and mistreated by the men around her, there’s a chance she might be susceptible to his manipulative charms. Whether that ends in marriage or an alliance of convenience remains to be seen, but it’s clear that the Starks still have plenty of threats surrounding them, both internally and externally. Variety spoke to Sansa herself, Sophie Turner, about her character’s loyalties and what the revelation about Jon might mean for their relationship.
What’s going through Sansa’s mind in those final moments as Jon’s being declared King in the North?
She’s not getting the credit she feels she deserves, that Littlefinger would grant her with. He obviously wants her on the Iron Throne and him by her side – she doesn’t want that, but she wants recognition for the effort that she put in, in order to claim back Winterfell, because if it wasn’t for her, it wouldn’t have happened. So I think she’s seeing Littlefinger as a bit more trustworthy and more of an ally than she initially thought.
Would discovering that Jon is her cousin change anything for Sansa, in terms of where they currently stand with each other?
Yeah, definitely. Sansa always took her mother’s side on that. She was always influenced by her mother’s resentment towards Jon because of Ned allegedly cheating on her and bringing back an illegitimate child, so finding out that Ned never cheated, that Jon isn’t an illegitimate child of Ned’s, would probably bring them closer together. I think at this point where there could be a lot of rifts in their relationship, it’s good to have something that would probably draw them closer together.
Does she feel like she has more of a claim on Winterfell than anyone else at this point?
Totally… She tirelessly has worked so hard to get Winterfell back and constantly been battling with these men, trying to prove herself as a real contender and a real player, and she kind of feels like she deserves the recognition for it, but she’s not satisfied now. I think she’s got a lot more things on her checklist to do before she’s completely satisfied.
In episode 9, Ramsay tried to make the point that she’s changed Sansa — what effect do you think he’s had on her, if any?
I think he thinks he’s imprinted on her and obviously he’s taken away something that she can never get back, something that, especially in those times, there’s a lot of importance placed on that so it is a really big deal, but you can see in episode 10, she doesn’t mention him once. She said to him “your memory will disappear, your name will disappear,” and she means it, she’s moving on, she doesn’t want to think about it, she doesn’t want to dwell on it, she’s stronger than that. And she doesn’t want to let him get at her anymore, now that he’s gone. She’s strong enough to do that, I think… as long as she’s not up the duff. [Laughs.]
Oh my god, really? I haven’t actually heard that. Stranger things on “Game of Thrones” have happened… Maybe politically, it makes sense, I honestly don’t know how I would feel about that, I’d have to speak to the producers about that one. Honestly, what I think is going to happen – and I don’t know where the story is going to go, but I think Jon and Daenerys are going to end up together, probably. I feel like Jon and Sansa would be a strange one, especially because isn’t it considered not legitimate if you haven’t consummated the marriage, and I really don’t think either of them would be particularly up for that. It would be very difficult to do that. [Laughs.]
As an audience member, how did you feel about Arya killing Walder Frey?
Great! I haven’t watched the finale yet, I’ve been doing promotion… but obviously it’s such a big moment and it’s the Starks redeeming themselves again and getting the upper hand again. It’s very, very exciting and Arya is such a little badass, she just keeps checking those people off her list.
Season 6 finally saw the women seizing power across the landscape of the show — who do you think is most qualified to rule at this point?
I feel like Daenerys is probably the most qualified to rule at this point because she’s spent so much time and effort preparing, it would be a real disappointment if she didn’t end up on the throne for her I think, for sure. In terms of the story, I really like Cersei on the throne. I love a bit of madness; I think it’s hilarious and she should stay on there for as long as possible. She’ll have a lot of fun, it’ll make for a good story.
How will Sansa feel about Cersei being on the throne, given their history?
Probably not great, but maybe it presents an opportunity for her to go back and get revenge. But then again, her ally Margaery isn’t there to help her out so it might be tricky, but Sansa doesn’t know that yet.
Daenerys has shown some despotic tendencies in her quest to rule; do you think there’s a possibility that she might follow in her father’s footsteps and go bad?
I think the Targaryens have it in their blood that they’re power-hungry and very ambitious, and will stop at nothing to get what they want. I don’t know if Daenerys will go bad – I think she’s ruthless, but what made her great and loved by the armies that she has behind her is that she isn’t like the rest of the Targaryens in terms of brutality and madness. She’s one of the good ones, so I hope she stays that way. But who knows, it’s “Game of Thrones,” everyone could end up crazy and dead.
What was your favorite scene to shoot this season, and your favorite to watch as a fan?
My favorite scene to shoot this season was Sansa’s killing of Ramsay, just because I feel like it’s been such a long time coming and I’ve been waiting on it for so long, and it really excited me. It was such a brilliant death, it meant that it was the first time that Sansa had ever been given the freedom to do what she wants without anyone telling her what to do. It was honestly the first time ever, in her life, that she’s been able to take charge and take command and make her own decisions, and that was a really big moment for her. And my favorite scene to watch was the battle, I think Miguel [Sapochnik] did the most incredible job in making it look totally realistic and dirty and not glorified at all and how distressing real battles were and the pile of bodies… each shot was so interesting. I’m rooting for him to get an Emmy, I want him to get an Emmy.
What are you most proud of in Sansa’s evolution, since Season 6 was such a turning point for her?
The moment when she really stood up to Jon when they were having that battle planning [session] the night before the battle, that was probably when I was the most proud of her and most proud of what she’s achieved. You really see how far she’s come, going head to head with her older brother, which was basically unheard of in those times on which it’s loosely based. I thought it was an incredibly strong moment for her. He didn’t listen, but she proved him wrong.
What did you think of “Game of Thrones” Season 6? Do you think Sansa and Jon will be at odds in Season 7? Weigh in below