Winter — it’s totally here. The seventh season of drama “Game of Thrones” is set to premiere July 16. Ahead of the debut, Variety spoke with Sophie Turner, who stars as Sansa Stark on the HBO drama, about what lies ahead for her character.
The end of season six found Sansa looking on as her half-brother Jon Snow was named King of the North by the lords of Winterfell. That moment, according to Turner, left Sansa feeling split between loyalty to her brother and a sense that she had been served a bit of a raw deal.
How was it shooting the new season?
It was as fun as ever. It was different from all the others, because you could kind of feel everything wrapping up. There’s a lot more emotion involved in shooting a lot of these scenes. It was getting pretty emotional. But it was great.
You were shooting on a different schedule than in past seasons. Did that change things?
Not really, because it wasn’t too different a schedule. It started in September and ended in January, so it was a little different. But I think the schedule changing is just a reminder that we’re coming to an end. But we were all staying at the same hotels, all going out to the same bars.
What’s Sansa’s state of mind at the beginning of the new season?
At the beginning of this season, she’s finally acquired that power and respect from John, but not the power that she really feels that she deserves. She’s respected, but not enough to be hailed Queen of the North like she kind of hoped at the end of last season. You saw that exchange, that look between her and Littlefinger. It was almost like an “I told you so” from Littlefinger, or “You should listen to me.” At the beginning of this season, it’s about her dealing with a certain newfound power, but also kind of figuring out who she really wants to trust and where her loyalties lie — and who’s loyal to her, too.
And how does she feel about her half-brother being named King of the North?
She’s of course happy for him. He’s family. But there’s a certain level where she doesn’t feel like she’s been recognized for the fact that she effectively saved everyone’s asses and kind of saved the day in the Battle of the Bastards. So there’s a certain frustration there. And of course I think she knows that now they’re going to be working together a lot better, because after giving her that kill of Ramsey, he’s kind of shown that he appreciates her and will listen to her a lot more, but there is a little bit of frustration and hurt there — hurt that he didn’t say anything or hail her as Queen of the North.
What’s her relationship with Littlefinger like?
It’s questionable. He clearly owes her a lot, and he lived up to that and saved her when she needed it. He claimed Winterfell for her. There’s a certain mistrust that was there, but she kind of feels like he’s paid his dues and shown his loyalty, and I think she’s considering having him back on her team.
What has it been like to play that character for seven years, since you were a teenager?
It’s been a real honor to play a character for that long, because it gives you the chance to develop someone over seven years, whereas normally with a standard movie, you get like a month and a half and maybe a month of prep. Whereas with this you can really dig deep into the character and develop an arc that most actors could only dream of. She’s been a part of me for so long, and it will be really difficult to let her go and say goodbye.
What has surprised you most about where the writers have taken her?
Every time I get the script, it’s always a pleasant surprise. I think my favorite thing recently, within the last season, is whether she will rebel to the point of maybe doing something that she regrets against people that she loves. She went from being so, so loyal to finally achieving what she wants, but it doesn’t quite feel like enough. It doesn’t quite feel like being with a family member is quite enough. So it’s interesting to see that, and how she’s teetering with the power that she has.