The cast of Game of Thrones have never been afraid to speak their minds, whether in interviews or on social media — even when they’re speaking out against the president. On Friday, Nov. 2, after President Donald Trump referenced the HBO show in a tweet about sanctions against Iran, stars Sophie Turner and Maisie Williams fired back at Trump’s social media post in order to criticize his message.
According to People, Trump shared a photo of himself on his Twitter account, which featured the phrase “Sanctions are coming,” written in the same font that Game of Thrones uses. (The phrase is a play on the oft-referenced Stark family motto, “Winter is coming.”) Shortly afterwards, the White House Twitter account followed up Trump’s tweet with an announcement that the president is planning to once again impose the sanctions against Iran that were lifted by President Barack Obama in 2015, as an attempt to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
However, the president was swiftly criticized by two Game of Thrones stars for using the show for his political agenda. Williams, who plays the assassin Arya Stark, quote tweeted the image, and captioned it with the phrase, “Not today.” (This, too is a Game of Thrones reference; in Season 1, Arya’s swordfighting teacher tells her that “there’s one thing we day to death: not today.”)
Turner, who plays her older sister, Sansa Stark, took a more succinct approach when it came to expressing her feelings on the president’s tweet, writing, “Ew.”
Of course, Turner and Williams weren’t the only ones to speak out against Trump’s use of a Game of Thrones reference in his tweet. In a statement released to CNBC, the network that airs the show, HBO, responded to Trump’s post, saying, “We were not aware of this messaging and would prefer our trademark not be misappropriated for political purposes.”
The network followed that up with another statement on social media shortly after, tweeting, “How do you say trademark misuse in Dothraki?”
While this might be one of the more overtly political declarations that HBO and Game of Thrones have made recently, the show hasn’t shied away from comparisons to the Trump era. In October, George R.R. Martin revealed that the story of Westeros can be seen as a metaphor for the dangers of climate change.
“The people in Westeros are fighting their individual battles over power and status and wealth. And those are so distracting them that they’re ignoring the threat of “winter is coming,” which has the potential to destroy all of them and to destroy their world,” Martin told the New York Times. “And there is a great parallel there to, I think, what I see this planet doing here, where we’re fighting our own battles. We’re fighting over issues, important issues … But while we’re tearing ourselves apart over this and expending so much energy, there exists this threat of climate change, which, to my mind, is conclusively proved by most of the data and 99.9 percent of the scientific community. And it really has the potential to destroy our world.”
In addition to Martin’s declaration, the HBO show has addressed issues of globalism versus nationalism and the importance of standing behind your oaths, as well as delving into questions of what gives people power and the complicated dynamics between men, women, and power.
And the stars of Game of Thrones have been equally outspoken about issues that are important to them over the years. In early October, Turner spoke out the importance of mental health awareness, tweeting a message of support for her followers who were battling suicidal thoughts, and encouraging them to reach out for help. A few months earlier, she advocated for ending the stigma surrounding mental health issues, writing, “Suicide is the single biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK. Let’s rid ourselves of the taboo of depression and start working towards ways to recognise and to manage mental illness.”
Williams, meanwhile, has used her public profile to speak out about issues of feminism, women’s rights, and the double standards that often affect women in Hollywood.
Needless to say, these two incredibly strong and outspoken women aren’t afraid to share their feelings and opinions on social media — and if that means taking on the president, well, nothing is going to scare them away from speaking their mind.