Keisha Castle-Hughes

Barry King/Getty Images

Thousands of characters have been killed off in gloriously bloody ways on Game of Thronesincluding Keisha Castle-Hughes' Obara Sand, who met her grisly end in 2017.

The New Zealand actress (who rose to fame in 2002's Whale Rider) tells E! News that she's still a huge fan of the series, despite Obara's gruesome death.

"That's one of the great things about the show, that everyone gets great deaths. It's quite bizarre to be excited about that," the 28-year-old laughs. "But the further on in the season you were, it became a guarantee that your character would eventually be killed. We'd all be thinking, I wonder what's going to happen with me and how they're going to top the last death, because they'd always be topping and topping. My sisters [played by Rosabell Laurenti Sellers and Jessica Henwick] and I were in an odd way happy about the deaths that we got because they were pretty epic."

Following her success in Game of Thrones and the 2017 mini-series Manhunt: Unabomber, Castle-Hughes returned to Sydney to play yet another fierce female in SBS's four-part series On the Ropes. The Oscar-nominee threw herself into a gruelling exercise regimen to play up-and-coming boxer, Jess O'Connor, who is coached by an Iraqi-Australian trainer (Nicole Chamoun).

"Jess is so tough and carries a lot of what she's feeling on the inside and doesn't really let people in. She's very guarded, which is not something that I am at all," Castle-Hughes says. "A big part of the character for me was the physicality. Shannon Murphy, our director, was deadest on making sure that the actors who were boxers were doing the proper training instead of relying on doubles and understanding the amount of work that goes in."

Keisha Castle-Hughes


The Western Australian-born actress admits she wasn't prepared for just how demanding the training was. 

"I was like, this is so intense. My body had never experienced anything at that level," she says. "But it really helps getting into character because it doesn't leave much room for you to think or intellectualise, which is something that's beautiful about boxing as a whole. It's so necessary that you have your head screwed on every time you go into a match."

One of the biggest drawcards for joining On the Ropes was the gutsy female cast and crew, Castle-Hughes tells E! News. 

"It's a female-led show, but it was also created by, produced by and directed by women, which is just so cool," she says. "It would be nice to get to a point where that isn't unique, where that is the norm. It's a slow, slow process, but it is happening."

Keisha Castle-Hughes

Djamilla Rosa Cochran/WireImage

And while she's now made a name for herself with roles in the US and Australia, Castle-Hughes is best remembered as young Maori girl Pai in 2002's Whale Rider. She shot the film when she was 11 and by age 13 found herself at the Oscars with a Best Actress nomination. 

"I meet children who have watched Whale Rider, but the film was 100 per cent made before they were born. That's quite funny. We made that film 17 years ago. I meet kids who are like 10 or 11, and I'm like, what?" she laughs. "It's just a really beautiful film and a strong story about being a young woman. It holds a very special place in my life, obviously."

Five years after Whale Rider premiered, Castle-Hughes gave birth to her daughter, Felicity-Amore Hull, with her then-partner Bradley Hull. 

Fast forward to 2018, and she's producing her first film, "sci-fi creature feature" Wellwood, which she also stars in. 

"It's been a super crazy, new journey and really exciting," Castle-Hughes says of her producing debut. "[You can't be] afraid to ask for advice and to be wrong, and to find ways to figure out how to right those wrongs. I'm really enjoying the process."

On the Ropes airs Wednesdays at 8.30pm on SBS and on SBS On Demand.

  • Share
  • Tweet

We and our partners use cookies on this site to improve our service, perform analytics, personalize advertising, measure advertising performance, and remember website preferences. By using the site, you consent to these cookies. For more information on cookies including how to manage your consent visit our Cookie Policy.