Game of Thrones star Joe Dempsie has opened up about filming his character's sex scene with Arya Stark, admitting it had been a "strange" experience given he has known Maisie Williams since she was a child.
After a flirty exchange during the first episode of Game of Thrones, Arya and Dempsie's character Gendry slept together on the night before the Battle of Winterfell.
While a happy moment for viewers who had supported the idea of a Gendry-Arya romance, many fans also admitted to feeling uncomfortable watching the scene despite Williams being 22.
Speaking to Esquire Dempsie, 31, said he understood why people would find it uncomfortable to watch because Williams had grown up on Game of Thrones.
"It was strange for me having known (Williams) since she was 11 or 12 years old and being asked to play out a scene like that. That discomfort I had initially seemed to have been shared by quite a lot of people who have watched that episode, too," he said.
"But I found the subsequent conversation actually really quite interesting. What that scene ended up doing was forcing people to confront their own hypocrisy in a way. I think the root cause of that unease and discomfort in a lot of viewers is because they feel like they've seen her grow up on screen.
"That's something that happens to us all — we all start off young and then the majority of us start having sex, and we're all perfectly capable to finding that journey out for ourselves. But we still find it difficult to watch someone else take that journey, say, on a TV screen."
Dempsie, who made his return to GoT this season after a years-long absence, said he found it difficult when he was often asked about a potential romance between Gendy and Arya in earlier episodes.
"The most common thing Thrones fans have wanted to talk to me about over the years was this suggested relationship with Arya. I always found that conversation quite uncomfortable at the time, particularly in the early years," he said.
"I was a 25-year-old man being asked whether I would like my character to get together with an at-the-time 14-year-old actress."
Dempsie wasn't the only one who was uncomfortable with Arya and Gendry's night of passion, with Williams tweeting her family had probably watched the scene too.
Williams also told Entertainment Weekly she had first thought the scene was a joke from the scriptwriters.
"At first, I thought it was a prank," Williams said. "I was like, 'Yo, good one'. And (the showrunners were) like, 'No, we haven't done that this year'. Oh f** k!
"I got to the read-through and I'm reading the scene and thought, 'Oh, we're actually going to do this. When do I shoot this? I need to go to the gym'. A whole list of things."