In the episode, Arya (Maisie Williams) comes across Sheeran as he’s crooning the Winds of Winter classic “Symon Silver Tongue.” After she stops to compliment Sheeran’s song (“It’s a new one,” he tells her), he and his fellow Lannister bannermen invite Arya to have dinner with them, during which they open up about the pains of war and missing their families. Fans who watched the scene closely will notice the flicker of tension that crosses Arya’s face when she realizes she’s surrounded by Lannister supporters — Cersei (Lena Headey) is on her list of enemies, after all — but ultimately, she decides to put aside any grudges and play nice.
In an interview with HBO’s Making of Game of Thrones blog, Sheeran explains that the scene has a meaning much bigger than his cameo.
“We are young boys who don’t have qualms with anyone,” says Sheeran about playing a Lannister bannerman. “We’re doing what we’re told, and I think Arya realizes the human side of that. She can just chill, have some food and crack some jokes.”
In other words, while Arya has been single-minded in her focus for vengeance the last few seasons, the scene featuring Sheeran proves she hasn’t yet lost her humanity.
Sheeran also opened up about what brought him to the show. While showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have said that they booked the singer to surprise Williams (who is apparently a big fan), in his recounting, Sheeran says he was the one who wanted a cameo. According to Sheeran, Snow Patrol singer Gary Lightbody’s appearance on the HBO drama as a Bolton soldier in 2013, gave him the idea to make a cameo of his own.
“As soon as I watched it, I was like, “Can you make me an extra at some point?” So Gary put in the word for me then, and I got an email for this season,” said Sheeran. “I had a week of studio scheduled, and I just cancelled it to come and film.”
For the latest pop culture news and voting, make sure to sign up for the People’s Choice newsletter!