'Game of Thrones': Sand Snakes Are on "Crusade" Against the Lannisters

Keisha Castle-Hughes says Cersei has plenty to worry about because Oberyn's daughters are "gunning for whatever Lannisters are left."
Helen Sloan/ courtesy HBO

The Sand Snakes are about to be unleashed.

The fiery daughters of Oberyn (Pedro Pascal) make their anticipated first appearance in Sunday's Game of Thrones, and they are out to avenge their father, who died in last season's bloody trial by combat.

Viewers got a taste of what's to come in episode 102, when Oberyn's lover Ellaria (Indira Varma) made it clear she wanted exact vengeance on Cersei's (Lena Headey) daughter Myrcella (Nell Tiger Free), who is in Dorne and betrothed to Oberyn's nephew.

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In episode 104, Ellaria unites Oberyn's daughters to plot their next move. Among them is the eldest, the fiery Obara (Keisha Castle-Hughes).

In a chat with The Hollywood Reporter Castle-Hughes teases the Sand Snakes' master plan and details the grueling training she went through to transform herself into the character. 

Tywin is dead. What more do the Sand Snakes want?

Their father has been dead-set on avenging their aunt's death his whole life. Oberyn has constantly said, "no matter how long it takes, I will get the blood for your aunt Elia." So the immediate response to his death is vengeance. Because of the way that they have been brought up, it doesn't matter who it is. The details don't matter to them at all. It's totally an eye for an eye mentality. You hurt my family, now I hurt yours. They are gunning for whatever Lannisters are left.

Your character is quite violent, but viewers will likely root for her. How do you manage that?

It's a difficult element of the show as a viewer. You feel, "Oh I don't agree with these things, and yet at the same time I'm really vying for them to happen." I hope with the Sand Snakes that we will win a lot of fans because we are totally on a crusade for the downfall of the Lannisters.

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Obara is great with a spear. What was the fight training like for this?

As soon as I got cast, they had us go straight into training. My initial training was in the martial art of Wushu. Obara is a warrior monk. She mediates and reflects upon her actions in equal measure to the effort she expends on killing people — which sounds like it doesn't go hand-in-hand, but in Dorne it makes total sense. Martial arts is about the physicality as much as it's about your state of mind. That really helped me to get into that world of her. She wasn't just an angry, stern person. There is a sense of inner peace. Every decision that she makes has been thoroughly thought out and mediated upon.

What was your first day on set like?

I'm such a massive fan of the show. I read the books in high school, and I've watched the show from the beginning. It was the most surreal thing, because you are walking on set and there are horses and there are these amazing sets. On that day we had snakes and scorpions and horses and weapons. It felt pretty epic. It honestly took me the entire day to settle down. Jessica Henwick, who plays Nymeria Sand, the second eldest Sand Snake, and I were just hanging on to each other. "Oh my God, we're on Game of Thrones. This is so weird." 

Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on HBO.