What connects Gilly and Sam?
A big thing that connects them is having horrible fathers. We haven't seen Sam's father, but we know about that in a different way from Gilly, Sam was abused as well. In Season 2 when John and I were filming the thimble scene [where Sam gives Gilly his mother's thimble], [director] Alik Sakharov said this beautiful thing to us: "You're like two birds with broken wings, and when they come together there's the possibility for the first time that they can fly."
They're two people who have come from horrible places, but because they both have this brokenness, they're able to give each other what they're missing.
How does Gilly maintain her optimism?
I think you have to attribute it to character, in the old-fashioned sense. She's just a really good person. So many other people would just be dead or in a ball on the floor. In modern life, we're protected from so much, and yet we still complain about a lot of things. She would never. It's a wonderful attitude to have to the world.
I read an obituary a few months ago of an Auschwitz survivor. She didn't dwell on it or didn't feel sorry for herself. That's probably one of the most heroic things imaginable.
How was Gilly affected by the attack on Molestown?
It's a different kind of trauma and pain from her upbringing. As much as she hated Craster's and wanted to escape, that was the only thing she knew. When we first find Gilly at Castle Black, she's so happy doing something that a lot of other ambitious characters would hate. If Cersei or Daenerys were doing the dishes, they'd be miserable. But for Gilly, it's like, "I'm safe. My baby's safe. I've got his guy who's really nice to me, he's like my best friend."
For that reason, having to go to Molestown and witnessing this really violent attack is more traumatic than what she's faced before. As much as you can say, this character's been constantly abused - and she has been - the violence of Molestown is something darker for her. But then, there's this beautiful thing in the middle of it with Ygritte.
What's your read on that moment?
It feels like this beautiful female solidarity. Ygritte's story ends in episode 9 and she'll never be a mother, but that doesn't mean she never wanted to be. That moment cuts through all the politics in the show and establishes a higher morality.
Is it hard for you playing someone with such bleak circumstances?
No. Going to work on 'Game of Thrones' is really fun. I might explore dark things, but I never get lost in any darkness because we call cut and straight away I've got John making jokes.
You're invited to a GOT wedding. Would you accept or decline?
No way. You'd be dead.