Maisie Williams hasn’t seen a lot of anime. “I didn’t watch anime growing up. Not really,” the 21-year-old tells Inverse. But the British actor who’s played the tenacious Arya Stark in every season of HBO’s Game of Thrones did spend a few weeks binge-watching and obsessing over One-Punch Man.
“For about six weeks, I just stayed up every night and watched One-Punch Man,” she says. The series, true to its name, is a violent action-comedy about a bored superhero whose one move is a single, devastating punch. “That was my only real connection to anime before this.”
The “this” Williams is referring to is gen:LOCK, the ambitious new science fiction anime from Rooster Teeth. Set in a future Earth torn apart by war, the series follows a crack team of specialists who pilot humongous “mecha” — giant, robotic war machines — in a last-ditch effort to usher in peace around the world. Along with Williams, the series also features Dakota Fanning, David Tennant, Asia Kate Dillon, Golshifteh Farahani, Koichi Yamadera, and known anime buff Michael B. Jordan, who also co-produces gen:LOCK.
Williams stars in the series as Cammie, a Scottish teenage hacker and the youngest of the “gen:LOCK” group. “The idea is that she has spent her whole life hacking, breaking through software her entire life,” says Williams. “Now, she wants to work with them rather than against them. That’s how she ends up becoming part of the team.”
Having essentially grown up working in television and movies, Williams knows exactly what it’s like to be the young person in the room. “For me, growing up as an actor in this world, there’s a lot of really serious, dull conversations on set. Everyone gets very stressed out and angry,” she says. “When I was younger, I always found myself trying to lighten the mood.” That, Williams says, is “the part that Cammie plays.”
“I love the energy she brings to the team,” she adds. “I think she’s one of the more useful characters in the show.”
Much like Arya Stark, Cammie has also grown up in a violent world and continues to be shaped by that experience. But unlike the Girl With No Name, who over the course of seven seasons underwent a major transformation embracing a darker personality, Cammie is keeping things light.
“Her attitude and spirit are the reason why I love her,” Williams says. “Arya in Season 1 was very much like Cammie; their naivety and the way they question the world is something that makes them endearing. But the way the harsh world really affected Arya, it took its toll and made her a darker person.”
Meanwhile, Cammie became the opposite of Arya. “Cammie, in the face of fear and the face of danger, she’s got a very positive attitude and a spirit in her to overcome situations. That’s how I would say they’re different.”
OK, but, who would win in a fight: Cammie or Arya? Williams picks Cammie.
“If my characters had to meet, I think Cammie might take the cake. I think the technology she’s armed herself, Arya has never seen before. I think Cammie would take it.”
gen:LOCK is Williams’ first crack at anime and voice acting. It’s also her first show with Rooster Teeth, a 15-year-old studio that attracted the vast majority of its audience from Red vs. Blue, its first original anime series RWBY, and the gaming hub Achievement Hunter. Williams says she wasn’t familiar with Rooster Teeth prior to being approached for gen:LOCK, but when she finally got acquainted, she says she got a slight case of FOMO.
“It wasn’t content I had seen before, but after researching what they had done, I realized how dedicated they were. And that to me was really interesting,” she says. “It made me feel like I was missing out on something exciting. I couldn’t wait to be a part of gen:LOCK.”
Though Williams is one of the stars in arguably one of the most popular shows on earth, she acknowledged that Rooster Teeth and anime is kind of a different crowd. “I feel like it’s a new fanbase for me, the people that are watching this show,” she says. “They may have seen me in Game of Thrones, but the Rooster Teeth audience is definitely a new one for me.”
Luckily, Williams’ “new” audience has quickly warmed up to her character at a startling pace. In the few short weeks, since the show’s January 26 premiere, Rooster Teeth fans have created dozens of fan art and illustrations honoring their new favorite character. Some have already begun working on cosplay, which they’re preparing to reveal at conventions this summer, including Rooster Teeth’s RTX.
Williams says to keep the fan art coming.
“It has been so lovely,” she says. “People have been sending me beautiful stuff. I love it when they turn Cammie into a kawaii anime character — that’s cute. It’s one of the most flattering things people can do. When I first saw Cammie, I really thought I could bring her to life and have a lot of fun with it. The fact that what I’m doing is making people very happy is so lovely. I’m glad they love her as much as I do. I’m having so much fun playing her.”
Williams says she’s now keen on continuing voice work after gen:LOCK. She’s also not leaving the show anytime soon.
“Anything Cammie’s in, she brings a real attitude and humor to. That doesn’t mean the story isn’t going to get more lighthearted, but I think fans are gonna be excited about what’s to come.”
gen:LOCK airs Saturdays at 11 a.m. Eastern on Rooster Teeth’s FIRST.