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Rose Leslie

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"I personally love her so much because she's a lot of fun. She's feisty and she doesn't take crap from anybody... And the fact that she's a strong woman. There are so many powerful female characters in the series."
Rose Leslie on playing Ygritte[1]

Rose Leslie (born Rose Eleanor Arbuthnot-Leslie on 9 February 1987 in Aberdeen) is a BAFTA-winning Scottish actress. She spent three years studying at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, graduating with a BA Honours degree. She is best known for playing the role of Gwen in the first season of the highly successful drama series Downton Abbey, a role which allegedly contributed to her casting on Game of Thrones. Leslie is descended from Scottish nobility, and grew up in her family's ancestral castle.

Game of ThronesEdit

In Game of Thrones Leslie is playing the role of Ygritte. She was confirmed in the role on 10 October 2011.[2] She joined the cast as a guest star for the second season. Benioff and Weiss specifically considered Leslie due to her performance on Downton Abbey. [3]

After being cast, Leslie dove into the books, and was on book four by the start of Season 3. She also took archery lessons, so it would look more realistic when Ygritte handles a bow.[4] She later specified that after being cast she read as much as she could to research the role, and got up to book four by the time she began filming in Season 2, though she was too busy afterwards to finish reading the rest of book four as well as the recently released fifth novel. Either way, Ygritte dies at the end of the third novel, so she finished reading the ones relevant to her character. As a result Leslie knew how Ygritte would die even before she began filming.[5]

As is common practice on medieval productions, Leslie didn't actually fire arrows from her bow most of the time, but instead mimed pulling back and releasing her bowstring, and the arrows are added in digitally. This allowed her to "fire" arrows much faster than a real person actually could. The major reason for doing this is the fear that an actor firing even a prop arrow might accidentally hit someone. Particularly, it would have been dangerous to actually fire an arrow in scenes where Ygritte is shooting someone at close range, not just across a field.[6]

In the novels, there is a moving and melancholy song that the wildlings sing at one point titled The Last of the Giants. Leslie, however, was absolutely terrified at the prospect of having to sing in public, on-camera as Ygritte - similar to how Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark) was also terrified at having to sing a handful of lines from a hymn in Season 2. Apparently this is why the song was never worked into the TV show, despite being rather famous from the books, out of respect for the actress. Nonetheless, at one point the showrunners played a prank on Leslie by sending her a fake script which actually included a full scene of Ygritte singing The Last of the Giants - she was terrified until they explained it was only a joke.[7]

Actors commonly film their scenes in any given season out of order, for instance if the producers want the new character's introduction scene to work particularly well so the audience receives them well, they often film their introduction scene near the end of filming, after the actor has had more time to get comfortable in the role. This was not, however, the case with Rose Leslie. Her first scene playing Ygritte also happened to be the first scene that Ygritte is introduced in, season 2's "The Old Gods and the New".[8] Moreso, she ultimately filmed Ygritte's final scene last where Ygritte's death scene occurs in Season 4's "The Watchers on the Wall". As she explained at the San Diego Comic-Con 2014 panel she felt it was very fortunate that it was also her last day filming, because her death scene in Jon Snow's arms was so emotionally draining that it would have been difficult to subsequently come back and film scenes from earlier episodes in the season.[9]

After Leslie finished filming her final scene, weapons master Tommy Dunne presented her with a case containing Ygritte's bow for her to keep.[10]

She is also in a long-term relationship with on-screen co-star Kit Harington, who played her lover Jon Snow.


Guest starringEdit

Season two credits
The North Remembers The Night Lands What is Dead May Never Die Garden of Bones The Ghost of Harrenhal
The Old Gods and the New A Man Without Honor The Prince of Winterfell Blackwater Valar Morghulis


Season three credits
Valar Dohaeris Dark Wings, Dark Words Walk of Punishment And Now His Watch is Ended Kissed by Fire
The Climb The Bear and the Maiden Fair Second Sons The Rains of Castamere Mhysa
Season four credits
Two Swords The Lion and the Rose Breaker of Chains Oathkeeper First of His Name
The Laws of Gods and Men Mockingbird The Mountain and the Viper The Watchers on the Wall The Children

See alsoEdit


  1. The SFX Book of Game of Thrones
  2. Entertainment Weekly
  3. [1]
  4., March 14th, 2013.
  5. [2]
  6. [3]
  7. [4]
  8. "The Fallen, a Roundtable" - Season 5 Blu-ray featurette.
  9. Game of Thrones Q&A at San Diego Comic Con Video
  10. [5]

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