(Continued from 11:44 am above)
Here’s GRRM in 2011 talking about the challenge of casting the child actors for the show* (Excerpted from April 15, 2011 Time Magazine: Interview of GRRM)
[Interviewer began by mentioning that he’d seen two episodes of the show at that point, and particularly liked the casting of the difficult children’s roles.]
GRRM: “The child actors were the hardest to fill because we looked at literally hundreds for the three major children’s roles. I mean, most child actors. Well you know, you see these kids and they’re kids, they’re not actors. Their triumph is that they’ve memorized the lines. And mommy and daddy are very proud that they’ve memorized the lines, but that’s all.”
“And then you’ve got the other extreme. You’ve got some kid whose obviously been told by mommy and daddy or by their school drama coach that part of acting is you have to emote. So those kids go to the other extreme and they emote all over the place, they’re rolling their eyes and they’re grimacing and they’re really going way over the top for everything and it’s completely unnatural.”
“So you watch all this stuff and you reach a point where you’re just ready to despair and say, this can’t be done here because most child actors—a lot of child actors out there are in sitcoms. And their role in sitcoms is to mug and look cute, you know. Our kids have actual dramatic roles where they have to deal with grief and loneliness and anger and a lot of very adult stuff. [I thought] “my God, how the hell, are we going to do this,” you know?”
“But then you find that one in a hundred, or one in a thousand that suddenly… “oh my God, thank God, this is great.” And Maisie Williams, who plays Arya, was one of those. I mean, just from the moment we saw her audition, I knew she was, she was our Arya. And you know, the same was true for Sansa and Bran; two good actors who played those roles too. They were extraordinary.”
* I believe GRRM had made similar observations in his “LiveJournal” entries announcing the casting of Maisie Williams and Sophie Turner, as well as in one of the Episode Commentaries he narrated.
From his experience, I’d suggest that the answer to “why daytime soaps have so much trouble finding decent teen and child actors” could be two-fold: (1) the pool of young actors is flooded with kids whose “talents” consist mainly of the ability to memorize lines, mug for the camera, or overemote; and (2) most shows are only looking to cast young actors who look cute and can speak a memorized punchline on cue.
Come to think of it, I can’t recall very many films or TV shows in which there are scenes of a young actresses or actor engaging in lengthy, serious conversations with an adult actor.
Of course, I’m trying to think of scenes comparable to S1 + S2 Arya with Yoren, Ned, Jon, Tywin, Syrio, and Jaqen – not to mention S3 + S4 Arya with Sandor, Beric and Thoros.
I’d bet not many drama schools for kids even try to teach them how to perform a scene like this quiet, heartfelt conversation between Arya & Yoren in S2e3:
There’s only one child actor I can think of who comes close: Thomas Robinson, who was about 9 or 10 when he appeared in “The Switch” (2010) with Jason Bateman and Jennifer Aniston.