Sophie Turner on why she finds the void after X-Men and Game of Thrones 'scary' and 'liberating'
In an interview to Firstpost, Sophie Turner talks about shuttling from Game of Thrones to X-Men: Dark Phoenix, and taking inspiration from Priyanka Chopra.
Moments after her character Sansa Stark is crowned the Queen of the North in HBO fantasy show Game of Thrones, Sophie Turner traveles to South Korea as part of her promotional tour for Simon Kinberg's X-Men: Dark Phoenix. When this writer met her in Seoul for an interaction, she doesn't look jaded despite coming off an intense show and in anticipation of a potential summer blockbuster being carried on her shoulders.
"Potential? Hmm...," she strikes back at my prefix. Sophie was thrown into the deep end at the age of 13, post which she rose to popularity with her role of Sansa Stark in Game of Thrones. Having gone through episodes of sexual and physical abuse through her lifetime on the show, the character was not a particularly easy one to portray for a duration as long as 10 years. One would naturally gravitate towards a lighter role in order to recover from Sansa's physically and mentally draining character arc, but Sophie only decided to push her mental faculties further by taking on the character of Jean Grey, a mutant who evolves into an unhinged force called Dark Phoenix.
"I talked to a lot of people going through mental conditions like schizophrenia, depression and addiction. I studied how they responded to help, and how they tried to distance themselves from their loved ones because they didn't want to hurt them. I think these are the issues that Jean also faces in Dark Phoenix," says Sophie, in an interview to Firstpost. Sophie has not shied away from talking at length about her personal episode with mental illness — how fame and scrutiny on social media during Game of Thrones fueled her depression.
Now that there is a sense of closure to both the show and the X-Men franchise, Sophie feels 'liberated'. "I guess I don't really think about it that much. It's certainly exciting that I just finished Game of Thrones and Dark Phoenix comes right after. I'm very proud of both the projects. I'm excited but right now, I'm not feeling too concerned. It is scary because you don't have a safety net anymore. You don't have X-Men or Game of Thrones to go back to. But then at the same time, it's also liberating as you have a whole year to fill up with passion projects," says Sophie, confirming that she has directorial aspirations. She even quips that she would love to pair up with X-Men co-star Evan Peters (Quick Silver) and get behind the screen. "We can be the next Wachowski sisters!"
Witnessing two passion projects — Game of Thrones, that she began her journey with, and X-Men, that she became a part of in the final leg — reach their inevitable end can be overpowering, just like it does for Jean in Dark Phoenix. Sophie has a word of advice for her onscreen counterpart. "I think therapy helps," she says, smiling. "I'm not joking, but I think everyone should have a therapist. It really helps," she says, a layer of calmness settling on her face.
After becoming the face of a major superhero movie, Sophie claims that she has only begun her journey of going out there and demanding unconventional roles for women, both on and off screen. "When I was growing up, the only lead superheroes I saw were white males. Now, there is a new wave of inclusiveness. We just had Black Panther last year. I believe a film with the first Asian superhero is being written right now. And then there was Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel and now this (Dark Phoenix). I'm really excited about watching women, or minorities, in strong positions and places that they can be looked up to. I'd like to think that every woman has a little bit of Jean in them," says Sophie, animatedly striking the Dark Phoenix pose.
She also expresses her wish to share screen space with Famke Janssen, the Dutch actress who played Jean in the first three X-Men movies, including X-Men: The Last Stand, which also explored the memorable Dark Phoenix storyline from the X-Men comics. "They had both the (old and young) Charles Xaviers (Patrick Stewart and James McAvoy) and Magneto (Sir Ian McKellen and Michael Fassbender) share screen space in Days of Future Past. It'll be awesome to be in the same frame as Famke. I'm always open to that idea. She has been my inspiration when I was studying Jean. I'm just trying to honour her the best I can."
Sophie, however, clarifies that she played Jean very differently from how Famke did, given the change in course of the narrative after the last few X-Men movies. "I didn't intentionally make my character different. Because Days of Future Past happened, I could bring my own personality, my own spin to the character." She acknowledges that there has also been a change in the tone of the X-Men films, which allowed her to also explore Jean in a different light. "The future of superhero movies is changing. There has been a change (in X-Men movies) ever since Logan, which had Western as a sub-genre. And now there's Dark Phoenix, which is also a family drama. It's really interesting for me to ground a superhero movie. People may be getting a little tired of those standard superhero movies, and want them to be more real. So I'm excited to see where it goes."
Having played Sansa and Jean across several years, she confesses that both the parts have had residual effects on her. "Jean is always in me. I can't help but take something away from characters I've played for a long time. What's left of Jean in me is her ability to choose her family. You know, there's a biological family and then there's a chosen family, whom you meet much later in life. For Jean, and for all the X-Men, family is all there is."
While Game of Thrones and X-Men may be her chosen families, she bids goodbye to them along with the family she has chosen most recently. Sophie got married to singer Joe Jonas in Las Vegas last month and has found a family in the US, in both the Jonas Brothers and Priyanka Chopra, married to Nick Jonas. "I should really watch some Indian films now. My sister-in-law is one of the biggest superstars there. I've not seen her movies but I've seen her posters that are there in her room. Nick has seen all her movies but I need to start as well now. I'm looking forward to that. She's incredibly talented," says Sophie, signing off.
X-Men: Dark Phoenix is slated to release in English, Hindi, Tamil and Telugu this Wednesday on 5 June.
All images from YouTube.
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