As we continue to count down toward the premiere (17 days and counting), the awesome-possom dudes here at Winter Is Coming are bound and determined to provide powerful, tear-jerking, eye-wrenching, throat-stabbing content. In that content are a series of new, exclusive interviews with Game of Thrones cast and crew members!
First up is my interview with the enigmatic Sophie Turner. Sophie, as you all know, plays Sansa Stark, one of the most polarizing (beloved and/or hated) characters in the series. Sophie talked to Fire And Blood (with her mother acting as go-between through e-mails), possibly unaware of FaB’s reputation as the resident WiC oddball. Really, they could have just insisted on Phil. But they got me, and so with that they got the rampant wonkiness that comes with being interviewed by the FaBihoff.
In honor of Sophie’s fantastic Britishness, I added extra “u”s to words like color and favorite. I also (in my head) said “herbs” with a hard “h.” Which is odd, since I never once mentioned herbs in the interview.
Brief bio: Sophie is currently 15 years old; she was born on the 21st day of February (Pisces!) in 1996, in Northampton, which is basically smack-dab in the middle of England. She moved to (relatively) nearby Warwick at the age of two and attended Warwick Prep School from ages 4 to 11. She’s now in the 10th grade at Kings High School in Warwick and is, I assume, doing well in her studies. (I didn’t think to ask!) Sophie continues to study drama at the prestigious Playbox Theatre in Warwick. She is repped by Jane Brand at Independent Talent in London.
Sophie is tall and gorgeous; she works well as a blonde or a ginger, doesn’t matter—her eyes are a light stormcloud gray that just pops, complimenting probably any colour of hair. She could easily be a model if the whole acting thing doesn’t work out … though from here it looks like it’s totally working out. She’s very glib, cheerful, and grateful for the opportunity Game of Thrones has provided for her. She and her awesome mum refused none of the questions I sent to her. I like this girl; Team Sansa is in extremely capable hands.
But don’t just take my word for it. Here’s the interview:
(Note: anything in parenthesis is a comment I added post-interview.)
Hello, Sophie! We’re so thrilled to be able to interview you. I trust you have seen our site, Winter-is-coming.net. Or does your mum keep you away?
Yes I have seen the site, it’s FANTASTIC! My mum let’s me read it because it keeps me up to date with the latest information on Game of Thrones. It’s so helpful, both Maisie, Isaac and myself look at it all the time to see what news there is. It’s a brilliant website!
I actually wanted to briefly talk about your mum (California translation: mom) first. I interviewed George a few months back, as well as David and Dan, and they all went out of their way to not only talk about how great it was working with you kids, but also how fantastic your mothers were. They all seemed genuinely pleased with the great support systems you kids all have. There does not appear to be any Lindsay Lohan situations happening. Do the mums really all get along with one another, or can we ever look forward to some sort of Real Housewives of Westeros behind-the-scenes catfight?
My mum, Hilary (Maisie’s mum) and Helen (Isaac’s mum) all get on brilliantly. They constantly text and email each other, as do Maisie, Isaac and myself! After a long day of shooting the first thing that we would do is ring up the Williams and the Hempstead-Wrights to meet up at the hotel bar and the mums would all enjoy a Hendrix gin and tonic whilst Maisie, Isaac and myself would be playing card games. They get on fantastically! Sorry there won’t be Real Housewives of Westeros cat fights anytime soon!
In what way has your mum been an influence on you?
My mum has been an influence on me in the way that she is a very independent woman who never has to fall back or rely on other people and she can always find her own way. In the performing arts as a business, it is a very tough business, in which you have to learn to be independent and responsible very quickly and my Mum taught me that from a very young age.
What age were you when you first realized you wanted to pursue acting?
I wanted to pursue acting from a very young age and I have always interested in it. I began acting when I joined my local theatre group (Playbox Theatre) when I was three and have been passionate about it ever since. I always used to make up shows with my friends, mainly with my close friend Ellie Johnson but she soon got tired of it. I would always be the most crazy, the most loud out of all my friends and I used to channel that energy into dressing up and putting on shows. It’s been a huge part of my life and without acting I would be lost.
Do you have any acting inspirations? Are there any current actors or actresses you admire?
I have three main inspirations for acting; Natalie Portman, Dakota Fanning and Cameron Diaz. Natalie Portman, because of the variation between all of the characters she has played and how dedicated she is to a role, for instance Black Swan involved several months of constant training and weight loss in order to be prepared for the role. Dakota Fanning, because she began acting from the young age of 5 and has thrived in her career throughout. Cameron Diaz, because she was a model who landed a job on the film The Mask, she had no acting experience and was thrown in the deep end and grew stronger as both a person and an actress.
That’s interesting, especially mentioning Natalie Portman, who just won her first Oscar for Black Swan, which I believe she deserved, especially given all the work she did to prepare for the role. You could actually equate that kind of transformation with Sansa, who undergoes all sorts of tortures, both physically and emotionally. Every day you shoot, you’re forced to transform yourself into Sansa, who has a much more precarious life than you do. Is it easy to slip back out of her character and back into Sophie, or are some days harder than others? And are there certain scenes you dread more then others?
I agree with you about Natalie! I am very dedicated to the role, so in the morning before filming, I tend to be quite quiet, not only because I’m tired but because I need to start and finish the day as Sansa and so I don’t tend to talk much (which is very hard for me) or think about my life too much. Although, when I am on set, I am quite able to slip in and out of my character quite easily. When I was in Malta, filming a dramatic scene as soon as they yelled ‘cut’ i would run off and join Maisie and was able to be my normal bubbly self. Sometimes it’s not so easy, especially in scenes in which I have to cry, once I have begun to cry I can’t stop and I have to go and talk to my mum for a while to calm myself down.
As most young actors do, you come from a youth theatre background. Talk a little bit about the Playbox Theatre in Warwick, and about the kind of training you received.
Playbox Theatre is a fantastic youth theatre which never forces or moulds people to become a certain type of person or actor, they never want to make a “Playbox actor”. Playbox works with different peoples talents and structures them and guides them, showing them how to use their talents to their advantage and mould them into an independent actor not a certain breed of young Playbox actors. Playbox brought out my confidence and that helped me not only in acting but also in my personal life.
So your initial reaction to reading the script probably was, “Well this is certainly different…”
My first reaction was exactly that, but that’s why I love it, because everything in Game Of Thrones is so unique and full of twists and turns that it becomes addictive. Every scene is fantastic, with so much emotion in them, I couldn’t help thinking when I got the script for that scene that if every scene is as powerful as that then I have no reason not to want to do it. I love Game Of Thrones BECAUSE it’s different.
George told me the audition scene that won everyone over was when Sansa is brought to look at some very familiar severed heads. Without giving too much away, how exactly does one prepare for something that shocking? Scary Play could not have prepared you for that.
In order to prepare for a scene as shocking and upsetting as that scene, I had to really remove myself from myself (if that makes sense) and be Sansa, not Sophie Turner acting Sansa, I had to be her. By doing this, it meant that instead of Sophie seeing all these fake heads, it meant that Sansa was seeing all these real heads and so it all became a reality to me. I would often cry when I read the script for the scene because it was such a heartbreaking and horrific scene that it would really get to me.
It’s well-known that your mum addressed you as Sansa the morning you got the part and you immediately burst into tears (which is probably useful for someone playing Sansa). How soon after that did you learn Maisie and Isaac would be playing your brother and sister?
After my final audition, and my first audition with Maisie, I felt absolutely sure that she was going to be Arya, there was no doubt in my mind. It wasn’t a matter of “will Maisie get the part?” but “when will it be announced that Maisie has got the part?” I learnt that Maisie had got the part about 2 weeks after I found out that I had got the part via www.winter-is-coming.net and I learnt that the lovely, talented Isaac had got the part about 2 months – after I learnt that I had got the part.
Totally cool that you actually got to work with Maisie during auditions. Do you feel like you improved one another’s performances? Was there immediate chemistry?
I definitely think that we improved one another’s performances because Maisie was and still is so good at what she does that I couldn’t help feeding off that ‘annoying little sister’ energy that she brought through in her performance and I think she fed off my ‘annoying older sister’ energy that I was giving off, so it just worked. We had a lot of chemistry that I hadn’t had when I had auditioned with other Arya’s. As soon as I entered the room and saw Maisie I gave her a high five asked her her name and we just clicked. After every take we would high five each other and we gave each other a massive hug at the end, we were immediately friends.
Describe your relationship with your Game of Thrones “siblings.”
My relationship with Maisie, Isaac, Richard and Art is great! I would have to say that Maisie is definitely one of my best friends, we spent SO much time on and off set that we couldn’t help but be friends and when you are with someone more than you are with school friends then it’s impossible not to get to know each other; Maisie is my other half! Isaac is SO lovely – he is the most polite, grateful and kind boy that I have ever met. He is lovely and an absolutely brilliant actor, he is going to blow you away!! Richard is so lovely that everyone calls him ‘The Lovely Richard’, Richard and Kit are like two older brothers (alongside my two real-life brothers), they look out for me and are just so lovely! Art, I have only met once or twice but the impression I received from him was very positive, very polite, eager to act and a very enthusiastic young boy!
You probably were in girl-heaven at the fittings. Did you have an immediate realization that the costuming would be so complex? Also, talk a little bit about the costume changes she went through, going from fur-lined Winterfell clothes to the lighter silkier stuff in King’s Landing. Sansa probably prefers southern fashion. What about you?
I was most definitely in girl-heaven! I had no idea that the costumes would be so complex, there was SUCH brilliant and intricate detail on the dresses! Even the corset that I wear underneath my clothes at King’s Landing that you never see has beautiful dragonflies embroidered on it! Sansa definitely eases from Northern clothing to Southern clothing. The Northern clothing is much more simple with not many patterns and never fitted perfectly to body shape whereas Southern clothing is very tightly fitted with corsets and belts to keep the clothing tight to the body. It imitates Cersei’s style of dress. I prefer the Southern clothing because it’s a lot prettier and fitted although the Northern clothing is very comfortable.
Give us a description of your very first day on set. What was the most surprising thing about that first day?
My first day on set involved a lot of squeals of excitement on my part. It was a scene which involved many extras so I was very nervous with so many people around but everybody (the cast, crew and extras) were all so welcoming, friendly and helpful that I settled down and felt really at ease, even in front of the camera. That is when I realized that acting is what I really wanted to do. The most surprising thing was how considerate and lovely everyone was, I felt part of a massive family the moment that I stepped on set.
Isaac had a commercial, but you and Maisie hadn’t had that sort of experience yet, right? What was the most surprising thing about working in front of a camera? Did you learn anything you never expected to learn?
Yes, Maisie and I had no experience in front of a camera and it was a bit daunting at first but the surprising thing was the fact that I was so relaxed in front of the camera and I loved it!!! I learnt that the camera picks up so much on my face that the expression (for me) had to be in the eyes, you can tell emotions through the eyes and so everything had to be incredibly subtle.
We fans of the series of course hope it goes for many years—seven at least—so that we can see the dramatic end to everything that’s been building from the first book on. Assuming it does, you will have literally spent your entire teenage life on a television show. Does that appeal to you—this sort of attention—and what sort of roles do you hope for after Game of Thrones has shot its final scene?
I have to say that I am incredibly excited for my future, especially if it involves Game Of Thrones. I won’t mind the attention because I suppose it comes with being in a television show, especially if it is as big as Game Of Thrones! In the future I don’t really know which roles I would like, I’d like any role and I would dedicate myself to that role, as I have with Sansa. I don’t tend to be fussy about the roles that I would like to be cast as, I really wouldn’t mind, I am not specific about one type of role, I like variety.
Game of Thrones fans will be older and (usually) more mature than Twilight or, say, Justin Bieber fans. The plus side of that is we won’t chase you through a mall trying to take pieces of your clothing… the bad news is we may dress funny and sometimes smell quite odd. Would you prefer being chased by tweenagers or being forced to sit next to old people who might need occasional naps?
I really don’t mind about fan types! I am a fan of anyone who is a fan of Game Of Thrones! Fans are the driving force behind this show, without them there would be no ‘Game Of Thrones the television show’ so what sort of person would I be if I chose which type of fan I would prefer? I love fans, no matter what they smell like!
From the bits and pieces we’ve seen, you come across as very enthusiastic and energetic; pretty much an attractive teenage girl who has a very exceptional talent in drama. Somewhat excitable, which is normal. Yet from the brief clips of Sansa we’ve seen, you are clearly playing her as someone more subdued (perhaps quieter) than you generally are. Can you tell us about how you have approached the character of Sansa to make her different from yourself?
Thank you! I didn’t aim to make Sansa different from myself, I just played her as I thought she should be played. Sansa is naive and has good intentions and she doesn’t understand the world as an adult would, she sees the world through a child’s eyes. I am a loud, energetic person and I played Sansa subdued, not because I wanted her to be different from myself but because she wants to be Queen and so she has to keep her emotions contained sometimes and she has to not show the naive, excitable girl that she really is.
Can you tell us some of the qualities you share with her? Is there a quality she has that you wish you did?
Sansa is an absolute romantic, she lives in her own dream world and is oblivious to the real world (at the beginning of the book, that is). I would love to be as ambitious and optimistic as Sansa and not doubt myself so much.
How many times did you have pie thrown in your face for that scene at the Winterfell feast? How many takes, and did Maisie do the actual throwing?
At the Winterfell feast the pie was thrown in my face about 20 times and it stank! Maisie attempted the first few goes at throwing pie in my face but she doesn’t have very good hand-eye coordination (sorry Maisie) and she got it on my dress a few times and so one of the crew had to take over!
That’s awesome. Can you beat Maisie at arm-wrestling?
I don’t know if I would beat her, I would hope I would, but Maisie is very strong for her age, I might still say me, although I’m pretty sure Maisie would stick me with the pointy end for saying that. All I can say is BRING IT ON MAISIE!!!
Time for the bizarre questions now. Don’t worry, you’ll get used to it. I’m odd. What is your current favourite song?
Never Say Never – Justin Bieber.
Not shocking. He’s talented and age-appropriate. Did you know he’s an excellent drummer?
I went to his concert the other week and cried for hours both during and after! He’s fantastic at drums, guitar, being good-looking, piano, dancing and singing, he’s pretty talented. I am most definitely a ‘Belieber’!
I so completely agree! Any color that begins with “off” should be taken off the colour list. Seriously. It’s almost as bad as indigo, which has unjustly forced its way onto the “seven colour spectrum.” How do you feel about indigo?
Agreed about ‘off’ anything. I must say that I ADORE the colour indigo, it’s probably one of my favourite colours! Sorry about that but it’s true, I hate to disappoint. Team Indigo!
(Blast it! Lost another one to indigo. But I’m going down fighting.)
You’re pretty tall. Truth now: How many Starks are forced to look up at you?
Art, Isaac, Maisie and Michelle.
(I know Michelle appreciates that Catelyn is now forced to look up to her daughter. Hah!)
If you had a hammer, would you hammer in the morning?
Sorry, that song pre-dates you. Actually it probably pre-dates your parents too. If I had a hammer, I would hammer in the evening. Because I’m not a morning person. I hope you didn’t expect this interview to be completely mature.
My mum just explained that one to me! I’m not a morning person either!!! I love this interview!!
Last weird one: Did Jeyne Poole get that dollar I sent you to give to her, or do you owe me a dollar?
(FULL DISCLOSURE: a long time ago I sent each of the three newly-cast Stark siblings—Sophie, Maisie, and Isaac—a dollar. The reason I gave was because I knew they weren’t going to be able to touch the money they were currently making for many years, and I felt like they should get paid! Plus, who doesn’t want a dollar, right? Anyway, I sent Sophie an EXTRA dollar to give to Jeyne Poole, just in case she was cast. This was actually an underhanded way of me trying to find out whether or not there was a Jeyne Poole on the show at all. Was this an act of evil?! Perhaps. But Sophie was a good little bird—blasted non-misbehaving kids!—and kept her lips sealed as to whether or not there was a Jeyne. Until…)
They haven’t cast Jeyne Poole so… YES! I owe you a dollar!!!
(17 days before the premiere. Thanks, Soph. I blame Pod.)
That’s too bad. So Sansa is truly alone. Well, buck up! I will take the dollar back if you ever come to Los Angeles. Until then, put it in the bank and let it earn interest. Someday it might turn into a million dollars. Or pounds. Or pesos if you’re unlucky. Or the second option: buy candy and avoid Los Angeles. It’s probably what I would do.
Sansa is alone with a dollar to spare! If I ever meet you, remind me that I owe you a dollar!!! Haha!
(Perhaps she thinks I won’t. I so will. Right in the middle of a red carpet interview if necessary. “GIMME MY DOLLAR!”)
You haven’t read the series, I know, but Sansa is romantically linked to a number of people—usually not by her design or wishes—as the series progresses. All of them will be older than you. Is this a challenge you ever thought you would face as an actress? Being pursued by older—sometimes extremely unattractive—men? Ser Loras is sadly unavailable.
I never thought that I would ever have to face that challenge as an actress but because I am living my dream right now, whatever come with it, whether it be bad or not, it won’t faze me because I’m on cloud nine!
Sansa is very polarizing, but she is, to me, a realistic portrayal of a proper and well-bred young girl. I like how she grows and learns from her early mistakes, but some fans may not be so patient with her. Knowing how the story goes, expectations are that Sansa may get some hate mail from time to time. Are you cool with that?
I’m absolutely cool with that! If people don’t like Sansa at the beginning then I am doing my job, she does come across as a spoilt girl and if they don’t like her then I’ve done well, if they still don’t sympathize with her later on, as the book progresses then I haven’t done Sansa justice, or people may just have very cold hearts!!
You have already had a slight brush with notoriety. Soon after your casting, there were You Tube videos up of you and your friends goofing around, and even one in which you bravely defended Tamzin Merchant after a number of internet heathens commented negatively against her. The You Tube videos were soon all taken down. Will we ever see you on You Tube ever again?
I don’t know whether you will see me on youtube again! We shall have to see!
Will Sansa ever sneak in her own rendition of your “Skyler” voice impression? Please say yes.
I will try, I promise, for you! Oh and this is a perfect time to give my shout out to SKYLERRRRRR!!!!!!
Skyler is epic and shall never die. Thank you. And thank you for this interview! You are fantastic!
As are you! It has been a pleasure!
Fire And Blood: Not much to add. She’s pretty cool, and seems to have a real good head on her shoulders.
I mean, except for the whole indigo thing.
Hopefully this is the first of many annual Sophie Turner interviews.
Feel free to comment. Just know that if you goobers scare away future interviews with crass language or behavior, I will personally send The Rabbit after your arses.