“The truth is always either terrible or boring.” Fortunately, this is not the case with our issue’s cover girl. Actress and rising star of the big and small screens, Sophie Turner is taller than you’d expect. At 5ft 9”, she comes into the studio with her fantastically long hair, ridiculously flawless skin (makeup free, I might add) and a bright smile despite the grey clouds and summer rain beating against the window. She has plenty to smile about.
For the last four years, Turner has played the role of Sansa Stark on the immensely popular HBO series Games of Thrones, earning a Young Artist Award nomination for Best Supporting Young Actress in a TV Series along the way. Later this year, her first big Hollywood comedy, Barely Lethal, is released, shortly followed by a grittier film, Alone, in 2015. She’s been busy, and now, the hard work is paying off.
Most notably, Turner has had the opportunity to really get into and develop her character Sansa Stark over the last few seasons of Game of Thrones, metamorphosing from little teenage girl to an assertive and wise young woman who is taking charge. “This season has been really good for me because Sansa has gone from a vulnerable 13-year-old girl, and she is transformed. She has been learning from all these people at court on how to manipulate others and she is actually putting it into practice now. She is becoming a bit of a dark horse.” Speaking of manipulation, “I had a scene in the most recent episode where I had to lie for Littlefinger during his trial, and at the same time, I had to put on a convincing performance. It was quite difficult, but it was a lot of fun. We had a great time filming.”
Perhaps in the coming seasons of the show, Stark is going to further define her voice. Until now, Stark has been something of a silent character, posing a challenge for Turner, who has to rely on facial expressions and body language over words and intonation to convey her character’s story. “I really like the fact that she is quite a silent character. If she had spoken up in court at any point she would have gotten herself killed. She is being compliant with the people she hates just so that she can bide her time and then she can actually get her own back. It’s fun because then a lot of the acting is in the face, and not in the words, which is nice for me to experiment with.”
This transformation makes a welcome change for Turner, who so far has suffered the brunt of playing a character whom audiences haven’t particularly liked. “I think it’s because people see their own faults in her character, and they don’t like facing their own weaknesses. I think if anyone was a 13-year-old girl put in her situation, they would probably act exactly the same. When I was younger, Maisie, who plays my sister, and I were in scenes together and people loved her character and they hated mine, and it really used to affect me.”
She needn’t worry now, however. Not only has Sansa Stark changed, becoming much more liked by audiences, but Turner has stopped the esteem-busting habit of searching her name on Google. “I used to, when I was 13. I read all the reviews of myself and everyone hated me and my character. These days, my publicist sends me web links of anything that has to do with me and I can choose whether to read it or not, which is a much better process.”
Turner’s friendship with co-star Maisie Williams, who plays sister Arya Stark on the show, has enchanted the show’s audience. Both Instagram accounts feature numerous selfies of the adorable pair having fun at award shows and on set. Unfortunately now, there is the possibility that they won’t get to work together again – and it’s all at the mercy of author George Martin and his murderous pen. “It sucks because she is one of my closest friends, but if that’s the way the story is going to go and it’s going to make a good story, then I’m happy with it. Maybe one day they’ll reunite? It might be leading somewhere, who knows?”
Turner has been in the role of Sansa Stark since she was 13 years old. Having been part of the Playbox Theatre Company from the age of three, it seems Turner was going to make it as an actress no matter what. “I joined Playbox because my mum wanted time to get a coffee with her friends so she shipped me off to this acting group and I ended up loving it. I remember when I was about 11 or 12, I thought to myself, I have to break into the acting business soon because as a child actor, it’s so much easier to progress into an adult actor, rather than just going straight into it when I was older. I always thought a lot about it.” From an early age, Turner has had a dedication and professionalism that is coming to fruition now.
Although she has always been committed to acting, she wasn’t very hopeful of her chances to win the coveted Sansa Stark role. “I had five auditions for the part of Sansa. The first was at my school, and I just took the piss out of it because I’d done auditions before and they’d never gone anywhere. I took the mic, and then I got a call back, and then I auditioned with different actors, and then I got it. I cried when I got the part. I was in France and my mum came in and told me and I was like “Oh my god!” and I jumped into the pool. I was so desperate to get it by the end of the auditioning process.”
Turner got the role at an age when she wasn’t even allowed to read the books that inspired the show. “I read my chapters. When I started I was 13, so I wasn’t allowed to read the books, I was only allowed to read my chapters. When the series is over, I’m just going to go back to the start and read them.” Books aside, does she think that she would be one of the thousands of dedicated fans that watch the series every week if she wasn’t acting in it? “The idea of medieval fantasy never quite intrigued me but I think because there has been a lot of hype about it, I may have watched an episode to see whether it got me. Because you’re in it, you have no outside perspective, so I have no idea if it’s actually a good show or not!” Given the army of hardcore fans out there, it’s safe to say that, yes, the show is very good.
It’s hard to imagine what it must be like for a 13-year-old newcomer to hold her acting chops against seasoned professionals like Sean Bean, Peter Dinklage and Lena Headey. Her character hasn’t just grown up in the show but Turner herself has also grown up on a film set. “It was very strange when I first started, but now it’s very familiar to me and I feel most at home on a film set. My first day filming ever was with Sean Bean, Peter Dinklage and Lena Headey, and a ton of these great actors doing this big scene. It was so daunting with all the cameras around, and I didn’t realise that people would get you what you wanted – I’d ask, ‘Please may I go and get a bottle of water,’ and they’d go, ‘No, I’ll get it for you,’ and that was very strange. It’s normal now – but I still get my own bottles of water!”
Did these veterans of the small and the big screen nurture the young actress with advice and guidance for how to navigate the road of the industry and fame? “No, they’ve never given me any verbal advice or verbal lessons. I’ve watched them over the years and they’ve given me the best acting lesson I could have ever wished for. I was really shit when I went into the show. I meet other people and they give me advice, but there’s no advice from the Game of Thrones cast.”
While the set might feel like home, Turner probably shouldn’t get too comfortable. Game of Thrones is infamous for its brutal, sudden and unexpected killing off of main characters. “It would suck if Sansa got killed off because it means I’m out of a job! And I also really like the character and I like playing her. If I’m going to be killed off, I want a really dramatic death – one that lasts the whole episode – so I was thinking either slowly bleeding to death or poisoning (but that’s already been done). A slow death that takes a really long time.”
Turner has very little to worry about. Before she needs to be concerned about Sansa Stark’s demise from Game of Thrones, she can focus on her silver screen career. Later this year, Barely Lethal, her first big Hollywood film, is released, co-starring Hailee Steinfeld, Jessica Alba and all around cool guy, Samuel L. Jackson. “I’m so excited for Barely Lethal. It’s a comedy about teenage assassins and I’m an evil assassin. Hailee Steinfeld is the protagonist. She is so clever and talented – because she was 16 during filming, she was doing three hours of schoolwork in between shoots, and it was the most brutal thing. I was really scared the first day Sam came on set – everyone was really quiet and very respectful, and he turned about to be a really cool guy. He’s so chilled, and such a giving actor.”
In 2015, Alone hits the cinema – Turner’s second big budget screen offering. Directed by Matthew Coppola and starring the likes of Mark Kassen and Ray Liotta, it’s a little bit more contentious than teenage assassins. “Alone is a drama set in New York about an ex war vet with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder who comes back and tries to rebuild his life, but he can’t and he is very violent and is traumatised by the whole thing. I play a 17-year-old girl called Penelope, who comes along and helps him. She teaches him how to love and care for things again and then they develop a weird relationship.”
Not just recognised for Game of Thrones anymore, with these films, Turner is set to really hit the big time. Thankfully, she is grounded by family and friends around her, who are little stunned by the spectacle of her increasing fame. “My friends couldn’t give one shit about it, they just don’t care. My best friend is really into medicine and another friend is into writing and no one cares about my fame. It’s really refreshing.”
“My family are really supportive. My mum, when I got down to the final seven for the character of Sansa Stark, said to my dad ‘I don’t know if we should let her do this,’ and my dad was like, ‘Any opportunity that any of the kids get, they have to take them.’ My dad has always been very supportive of everything that I do.”
Sophie Turner is lucky to have such a supportive base – she is going to need it. As Game of Thrones continues (it has been confirmed for at least two more seasons – five and six) and as her high-budget silver screen offerings hit the cinema over the next year, her star looks set to rise even higher. One must wonder what would have become of this lass if she wasn’t in her enviable acting career. “If I wasn’t an actress, I’d be doing my A-Levels in school right now. I would probably be doing ballet. Ballet and acting were my two passions and I had to stop doing ballet in order to pursue acting.” As for her brief singing stint for the ridiculous “Game of Moans”, Turner has this to say, “That wasn’t me singing. It was a girl from the Radio 1 offices who sung it and I mouthed it. I can’t sing. I wish I could sing; it’s my favourite thing to do. My shower song is old-school Justin Bieber, songs like Baby.”
Justin Bieber; Breaking Bad (we saw a DVD of the show on her Instagram feed); Keeping Up with the Kardashians(she says she’s not a fan, but thinks it’s funny); It seems like Sophie Turner is like any “normal” 18-year-old who hangs out with her friends in her spare time, and fights with her brothers at home. Except that Aaron Paul (Jesse Pinkman) is her good friend, and that we all want to be part of her world.