The movie is intense, and Williams’ portrayal — almost entirely opposite actress Svetlana Metkina and a pack of hyenas — is equally so. Find out more about the movie (and how it compares to “Game of Thrones”) in this interview between Williams and Zap2it.
Zap2it: Where did you make the film?
Maisie Williams: We were shooting in South Africa, specifically in the Karoo for the majority of it. It was absolutely beautiful! Some of the most amazing locations I think I’m ever going to go to in my life. It was so, so great. The people were absolutely amazing. The weather was mad. So yeah, it was a really, really great shoot!
Were you ever scared, considering the life-or-death nature of the story?
There were times — the main thing with me is I’m not really very good in the sun. There’s not much of an ozone layer there, it’s a lot thinner than it is in the U.K. So I had to be really, really careful in the heat, or else I would end up with heatstroke — which is really ironic. That was the main issue that I had.
What about the hyenas? What was it like working with them?
It was absolutely amazing! When was the last time you saw a hyena in the movie?
Ummm … “The Lion King”?
Exactly! And that wasn’t even a real hyena. It was so mad. Being that close to an animal that is so foreign was really, really cool, and there was the little danger factor. They weren’t exactly tame. I mean, they’d been around humans before, but by no means domesticated. So it was cool.
How would you do if you had to face Jo’s situation?
I don’t think I’d survive. I’d do awfully. But I guess you never know until you’re put in that position. That’s what I spent a lot of the shoot thinking about. Can you imagine genuinely running for your life and being in these harsh conditions? I just kind of find it really exciting and really thrilling. I have no idea what I’d do. I like to think that some fire inside me would push me to go on. But another part of me thinks I’d probably just shoot myself in the head.
You have to use an American accent throughout the film — were there challenges with that?
In the U.K., we’re surrounded by the American accent anyway. All our TV shows — like “How I Met Your Mother” and “The Simpsons” and “Family Guy” — everything like that is constantly on our TVs. So we are surrounded by the accent a lot. And then I worked with a dialect coach on the shoot. I’d been to America a few months before we started shooting and really got a sort of feel for it there. It wasn’t something I really paid a lot of attention to — I tried to make it as natural as possible. But we’ll see if people like it!
How does working on a film like “Heatstroke” compare to television like “Game of Thrones”?
It was completely different. The vibe on set was completely different. The crew was a lot smaller, and I knew everyone personally and by name. It was just a lot more intimate, I guess. Which was really, really wonderful. It was so nice to have met everyone who worked on the film. On “Game of Thrones,” there’s so many names that come up on the screen who I’ve never met and never spoken to. It’s kind of a shame that we’re all in this TV series but we’ve never spoken to each other. But on this, it’s quite nice to have that connection with everyone.
“Heatstroke” is now playing in theaters and on video-on-demand. “Game of Thrones” Season 5 is expected to return to HBO in the spring of 2015.