The second season of the brutal, lusty "Game Of Thrones" saw jaw-dropping twists and raised stakes for nearly all of the characters. Fans were particularly intrigued by the relationship between fiery wildling Ygritte (Rose Leslie) and Jon Snow (Kit Harington); Ygritte's famous mantra to Ned Stark's bastard ("You know nothing, Jon Snow") became one of the oft-quoted lines from the show. So what can fans of the HBO fantasy drama expect from Season 3?
HuffPost TV caught up with Leslie at the "Game Of Thrones" Exhibition in Toronto, where she spoke candidly about what’s to come in Season 3, the chemistry between Ygritte and Jon Snow and which "GOT" actor is totally unlike his vicious character in real life.
HuffPost TV: What can viewers expect from Ygritte in Season 3?
Rose Leslie: We see a lot more of Ygritte in Season 3, and we see the relationship between her and Jon Snow develop on their journey. It’s far more intense. We also see her boundaries break down; she’s an incredibly strong and powerful woman, but she does soften a little bit when it comes to Jon Snow.
Speaking of Jon Snow, are things going to heat up between her and Jon this season?
You do see the relationship between the two of them flourish, so to speak. But without giving away too much to spoil it, yes -- it does heat up.
How did your real relationship with Kit play into things on set?
Kit is a very good friend of mine and we got on well. We have similar senses of humour. The fact that we are friends off-set really does help with our characters on-screen and we are able to bounce off each other more fluidly. But also it’s incredible to be able to work off of someone like Kit because he is so talented and he allows you to play. That is a lovely thing.
In Season 2 we see Ygritte tease and toy with Jon Snow quite a bit. What does Ygritte really think of him?
At the end of Season 2 she's ultimately incredibly intrigued by this man. I don’t think she’s ever come across anybody like Jon Snow in her life. He’s a bit opposite of the wildling men she had been growing up with and that she’s used to. She’s a little bit dumbfounded by Jon Snow but she wants to try and understand him. She’s also a bit baffled; he takes himself so seriously, and she derives a lot of pleasure in antagonizing him and teasing him the way she does. She has a lot of fun in that respect. Ultimately, I think she can’t quite put her finger on it, but there’s that element of ‘I want to get to know you better because you are such an enigma to me.’
What does Season 3 have to offer a "Game of Thrones" fan?
As a whole, I think Season 3 is going to be incredibly exciting. There are so many events that take place this season, and I think viewers are going to be pleasantly surprised, but ultimately shocked as well. Some of the beloved characters get tested in ways that [the viewer] won’t ever have seen coming, so there are definitely going to be surprises galore.
For those who don’t watch the show and are "Game of Thrones" skeptics, what would you say to get them to tune in?
I feel like “Game of Thrones” is unlike any other television show on TV at this moment in time and as a result, it is incredibly original and fresh. The imagination that goes into this fantastical world, its vibrancy; it enthralls viewers. And there’s so much going on! The plotlines, the characters ... even though it's medieval, you can relate with the aspects of the human relationships with all these different characters. I think that's the secret to its continued success.
What was the biggest challenge in playing Ygritte?
I think it was adapting to how brutal she is. She is a natural-born killer. She has a bow and arrow this season, and I think it was adapting that kind of mindset and looking authentic when I was pulling the bow, while trying to make it look like second nature. It was a challenge and it was incredibly fun, but I really wanted to make sure that it looked real and very natural for her.
Was training with the bow and arrow a bit difficult?
You know, it wasn't particularly! [Laughs] I’d never come across archery before in my life -- but that’s also what’s spectacular about being an actor, I get to try all these knew things that I myself would have never been involved in. Thankfully, there was a wonderful man who helped me out with the archery. Hopefully it will look quite good!
I know you were filming over in Iceland. How cold was it over there?
Oh, pretty cold. Pretty, pretty cold. [Laughs] There were days we would be shooting in -17 [weather], but you know what? It added to the elements of everything and immersing myself into the world. Iceland was just perfect for North of The Wall because it's just so expansive and vast. Even though it was incredibly cold and there were wind chills and it would be snowing during scenes, it could only help impact on that moment and help you with your character and raise the stakes.
And luckily, Ygritte gets to bundle up a little bit.
Yes, exactly! Which was just as well. [Laughs]
Is there any actor on the show that is similar to their character in real life?
There are many people I haven’t met cast-wise, but I think every single actor within "Game of Thrones" has been so lovely. And although there are lovely characters in the storylines, I think everybody has a brutality to them and a dark side. But I certainly haven’t come across anybody like that in real life -- which is a good thing!
Which actor is just totally unlike their character?
I’ve never met him -- I am longing to meet him -- but I understand that Jack Gleeson couldn’t be further from what Joffrey Baratheon is. It’d be sort of scary if he was anything like Joffrey, but I understand that he is the most lovely, engaging young man.
So if you could play another character, which character would you play?
I have a big love for Joffrey, so I think I would love to play him. He’s a little bit sadistic and I think that would be a challenge for any actor.
Before "Game of Thrones," you played Gwen on "Downton Abbey." Can you believe how huge that series has gotten in North America?
No! Isn’t it phenomenal? It’s amazing.
Why do you think it's gotten so much love here?
I just think it is superbly acted, but also, it touched upon a world that we don’t really know anymore, with it being upstairs/downstairs -- that certainly appeals and intrigues people.
People really miss your character on the show. Could you see yourself going back?
I have no idea! If that would ever be able to happen that would be phenomenal, but I don’t think it will; I think we've said a final goodbye to Gwen.
The Season 3 premiere of "Game of Thrones" airs on Sunday, March 31 at 9 p.m. ET on HBO and HBO Canada.
Check out the posters and photos from Season 3:
WATCH: "Game of Thrones" Season 3