Sophie Turner has racked in quite the following since she first signed on to portray Sansa Stark on Game of Thrones in 2011. In addition to an array of tribute sites celebrating her likeness, fans have even created a “#TeamSansa” hashtag that trends on Twitter and is dedicated to rooting for her beloved crimson haired character. But being part of one of the most popular shows on television today has certainly not gone to Turner’s head. The 20-year-old actress is still just as mystified as the rest of us are by the cult favorite fantasy drama. In fact, if you pry for information about what to expect on this current season of GOT, Turner can honestly say that she doesn’t know. Since she likes to watch the show as a fan herself, she goes into filming each day having only read her own script.
The world of make believe is something that has intrigued the British actress for as long as she can remember. Growing up in the UK, Turner remembers being a part of a theater company and appearing in a variety of plays since she was three years of age. Of course, she jokes, they weren’t all glamorous productions. During our candid sit down with the star, she laughed over the fact that her debut role was playing “Pedestrian #3” in a very disorganized rendition of James and the Giant Peach. Turner’s breakthrough role came years later when her drama teacher encouraged her to audition for the role of Sansa Stark. After dying her blonde locks red and proving herself as a resilient noblewoman, she caught the attention of director Isabel Coixet and went on to hold the lead role in the 2013 thriller, Another Me. She also starred opposite Hailee Steinfeld in Barely Lethal.
Next up for Turner is her depiction of young Jean Grey in X-Men: Apocalypse in which she stars alongside an ensemble cast of Jennifer Lawrence, Olivia Munn, Nicholas Hoult, and Michael Fassbender. Though she looked to Famke Janssen for inspiration for the role, Turner explains that this version of Grey is “totally different.” And after chatting with the star about the antics that occurred on set, it appears that the cast developed more than enough chemistry to do the film justice. Turner grins as she recalls the crazy 80’s ensembles that her character proudly rocked in the film – a plethora of acid washed jeans and shoulder pads. And during our Spotlight photo shoot, she also revealed that goofing around with her colleagues on set somehow led to JLaw punching her in her lady bits.
We caught up with the actress to discuss everything from what’s in store for Sansa as we dive deeper into season 6 of Game of Thrones -- to the reason she desperately wants to work in a stationary store, that one time her knees gave out in front of Justin Bieber, and why the first thing that she’ll do after her GOT character is killed off is hit the beach for a long overdue tan.Just Jared: Season six of Game of Thrones has just premiered. What are we in store for this season?
Sophie Turner: I haven’t read anyone else’s parts in the script, I only know my part. Not because I’m lazy, but because I wanted to watch it as a fan so I can only really tease you about my stuff. This season for Sansa is really big. It’s basically a game changer for her because she goes from being a pawn in everyone else’s games to really taking charge. Instead of being shipped around by different people and being a prisoner, she’s the one telling people, “Come with me. I’m taking you somewhere. I’m taking charge.” And she kind of tries to get her own revenge.JJ: Can you believe that the show is on season 6? At this point, do you remember life before GOT?
ST: I don’t remember life before Game of Thrones. Well I kind of do, but because I started when I was 13, all my formative years have been spent on the Game of Thrones set. I remember bits and pieces, but it feels like it’s flown by. It really does. I feel like we should still be on season 3 to be honest and I still feel like a 15-year-old.JJ: What’s the beauty in being able to portray the same character for a lengthy amount of time?
ST: Oh my God, it’s amazing. You dream to be able to have a storyline that spans hours and hours and hours but in reality, half of the people who are acting these days get like an hour and a half to portray a huge storyline. And it’s just not enough. When people ask me, “Who is Sansa?” I can’t really tell them because she’s come so far from where she was and had such an insane storyline. It’s amazing. And I’m so excited to see where it goes as well because you know in a couple of years she’s going to be a whole different person from where she is now.JJ: What would you ultimately like for her?
ST: I want her to get revenge. I want her to avenge her family’s death and everything. But then I kind of want her to die at the end because I want a big death scene. I want her to die and I want Littlefinger to end up on the throne. I don’t really care about anyone else.
ST: Something that will last a good episode, like poisoning, you can really drag that one out. Just a long slow death.JJ. How crazy has the GOT fandom been?
ST: It’s pretty crazy. I never really get to see it that much, only when I’m at Comic-Con or something where you actually get that immediate reaction from the fans. But otherwise you don’t really feel the effects unless you’re on Twitter and you see all the responses to each episode. But I tend to not really look at that because there is always criticism layered in with that. So I don’t really look at it. And especially in England, people just aren’t as passionate about it. I never really have crazy fan encounters unless it’s at Comic-Con. There are no billboards for it or anything in England really. There might be one advert for it on The Tube and that’s it. So it’s a whole different ball game when you’re over here I suppose.JJ: What was your craziest Comic-Con experience?
ST: People dressing up as you is always a weird one. Or sometimes you get the odd person who genuinely believes that you are your character. I’ve had that happen where I’m like, “No. No. No. Call me Sophie. It’s OK.” And they are like, "No my lady. I can’t!” And it’s really weird. But some people just find it difficult to separate that kind of thing.JJ: Have you ever had a full on conversation in character with those people?
ST: F--k no. If I had a full conversation with someone in character, I’d just be like crying the whole time.JJ: People love that your family adopted one of the direwolves from set. What makes it a great pet?
ST: What makes her a great pet is she doesn’t require much walking. She actually has got quite bad arthritis so she just sits on your legs all day, which is really cute. But she’s at my parents’ house now because I moved out and my flat can’t have animals in, which is really sad. But she’s good. She’s quite old now as well. She’s getting on a bit.
ST: No. I tried to steal a ring once and then they asked for it back and I was like, “Ahh sorry.” But I will at the end. I will steal something.JJ: What do you think you’ll take?
ST: I don’t know because there is nothing that has really lasted with me for the duration of the show. Some people have their swords. I guess my corset. That’s like the only thing that hasn’t changed. Or maybe I’ll just take home the hair dye. I’ll just keep dying my hair that color and pretend I’m Sansa for the rest of my life.JJ: We’re very excited for X-Men: Apocalypse. What can we expect from you as Jean Grey?
ST: Basically the Jean Grey you saw in the first three movies is totally different to the Jean Grey you’ll see in this movie. Because in the first three, she’s like a fully-fledged human being. She has her shit together and she has a fiancé. She is one of the best at her job. She kind of has control of her super powers until the whole Dark Phoenix thing. This Jean is very vulnerable and alienated because she is so powerful that she can’t control her powers. She almost alienates herself as well because she’s scared of herself and she just wants to be a normal teenager. So this movie is about her finding a kindred spirit and then also coming to terms with her powers and figuring out how to use them.
ST: Yeah. I was a big fan. I’ve watched all the movies. I read a couple of the comics when I was younger as well. I just really wanted to do it. And also the cast is a big draw. People would kill to work with that cast. And Bryan [Singer] who I think is amazing. I saw The Usual Suspects a few years ago and was like, “Who is this director? He’s amazing.” And then I found out he did all the X-Men and I thought, “Wow. Amazing!” I have to do it.JJ: Did you take any inspiration from Famke Janssen’s performance? Did you get to chat with her at all?
ST: I definitely studied her performance and then I emailed her once I got the role basically asking for tips and advice and also just making sure it was okay that I was playing the younger her. And she basically just emailed back with her blessing to play Jean. She didn’t really have any tips. She just said, “Know the character.” So I just studied the movies and Wikipedia’d the rest. And then I found her. But she’s so different to the Jean that Famke portrays that it’s almost like a totally different human being.JJ: What’s the costume like?
ST: We have jeans, standard 80’s every day wear, which is like shoulder pads and acid washed jeans and all the cool 80’s stuff that I’m so glad that we’re not wearing anymore. It’s actually really cool. I like it. And the big hair. And the superhero stuff is the classic superhero spandexy kind of thing, which is less appealing to wear. Once you put it on, you felt pretty cool.JJ: Did you have fun on set with Jennifer Lawrence? It sounds like you two became close.
ST: Jen and I had a few scenes together. She is definitely a big inspiration to work with and she is just how you’d want Jennifer Lawrence to be. She’s exactly the same person that you see in interviews. And she was just amazing. She was really fun, really cool. Hilarious!JJ: She seems like she’d be really fun.
ST: Yeah! She punched me in the vagina once. I didn’t ask her to either. It just happened. Evan [Peters] and I were having a fake fight and I said something like, “I’ll c-nt punch you” or “I’ll punch you in the crotch” and then Jen thought that I said, “Please c-nt punch me Jen.” So she punched me in the vagina and I was like, “Awesome.” It was pretty funny.JJ: Was that during an actual scene or in between takes?
ST: That was in between takes. She definitely wouldn’t have done that when we were rolling!
ST: I learned it for about three seconds. And I just had to shoot the arrow off screen. I didn’t have to hit a target or anything. It was more about form, it wasn’t really about hitting the target because I was not good at that.JJ: So on a scale from 1-10, how good of an archer were you?
ST: Probably like 2. Movie magic!JJ: You started acting in plays at age three. What’s your earliest memory of working as an actress?
ST: It wasn’t really working. It was like a youth theater. None of us were getting paid. My earliest memory? I played pedestrian #3 in James and the Giant Peach. I just remember we had to use this weird voice. And I remember doing that and having my two seconds of fame and going off stage and going, “Ahh. I killed it!”JJ: Did you get flowers after that?
ST: No. I didn’t get any flowers. I don’t even think my parents came to see it because they were like, “She’s just pedestrian #3.”JJ: Is it true that you are allergic to horses?
ST: It is true.
ST: No interesting bloopers. My face gets a bit puffy and they shove Vaseline up my nose. And I’m like super drowsy because they give me all these antihistamine drugs that get me really drowsy. It was more me just falling asleep on horses with a puffy face.JJ: Is that something you have to put on your acting resume or does yours say, “Totally fine around horses?”
ST: You know acting resumes always lie so I’m like, “All my special talents are horse riding, gymnastics, of course I can ski and surf.”JJ: What’s the most fabricated thing that you’ve ever put on your acting resume?
ST: There is always that highly skilled thing. I think it was skiing – highly skilled at skiing. I skied once and I was beginner. Well they put me in the average class and then moved me down to beginner because I was so bad! So highly skilled.JJ: Did you ever have to go for a skiing audition?
ST: No. Thank God! But listen, I could have been Eddie the Eagle! So that skiing thing would have come in very handy.JJ: We love that you snuck a selfie with Ryan Gosling in the background at Critics’ Choice. Did he ever see the photo?
ST: I have no idea. I’m kind of hoping he didn’t because I really don’t want to have to work with him and for him to know that I did that. I don’t want to meet him and have that awkwardness. I really regret that photo now!
ST: Everyone! I’m like not cool if I ever meet celebrities. The amount of times that I’ve collapsed in front of celebrities because I’ve been so in awe of them has been ridiculous. Or I’ve said stupid stuff. So everyone!JJ: Is there one person that you totally lost it in front of?
ST: Justin Bieber. I mean I didn’t meet him; I was in the same vicinity as him. I was in a circle of people and I saw him. I like collapsed and held onto my friend and I was shaking and I was like, “It’s Justin.” And then he walked away. So next time he’ll be like, “Who the f--k is that freak? That’s the one that collapsed!”JJ: You’re a natural blonde. Do you miss your natural hair color or are you Sansa hair for life now?
ST: Even if I wanted to go back, it’s not an option while I’m on the show. Well that’s okay. I feel like there are more blonde actresses out there than redheads and it’s all about the competition!JJ: What’s one thing that you haven’t done to your look that you’d love to but haven’t had the chance yet?
ST: I’d love to be able to tan. I used to be able to tan really easily and then for Game of Thrones, they were like, “Don’t go in the sun. Don’t go on holiday. And if you are on holiday, sit under an umbrella.” I’d love a tan one time. That would be fun.
ST: I think it’s less about me finding time for dating and more about people actually being interested. For friends, whenever I have time off, I just visit them. They are all at universities all around the UK and I visit them at every university. I really never stay at mine anymore so I’m up and around the whole country visiting all my friends. But I get a fair amount of time. Not as much as I’d like but it’s fun. Just go out and party. Live the university life without the hard work.JJ: Would you ever date a fan?
ST: It depends on how "fan-ny" they are. Yeah. Maybe. It depends on the person. By fan do you mean just a normal person or an actual fan? I would date normal people. They are way cooler.JJ: But not the guy who thought you were your character in real life?
ST: No. Not that kind of fan. See it’s very tricky. No creepy fans!JJ: If you weren’t acting, what would you be doing for a living?
ST: Have you heard of the store WH Smith? It’s a stationery shop in England and I’ve always wanted to work there because I love stationery. And Starbucks. I’d quite like to work at Starbucks. I just think it would be really fun. I think you’d have a good camaraderie with your mates and you get free coffee. It really appeals to me. WH Smith appeals to me more though. Me and my friend in WH Smith, we used to go in there and sit in the stationery station for hours on end and then go to the book section. You know all those books where it’s like "Daddy Why Did You Do This" books? We used to sit and read them for hours and hours and made ourselves cry and would just leave.JJ: What are some things that you have to have with you in your trailer on set?
ST: Just a positive attitude (laughs)! A heater because it’s always cold. I don’t really have any requests.JJ: Do you have any superstitions?
ST: I can’t walk over drains. I don’t know why. I can’t walk over them. It’s not a fear of falling down them, it’s just walking over a drain, I can’t do it. And if you walk over a drain, you have to say “onions” and that’s the only thing that reverses the curse. Someone told me that years ago and for the rest of my life I’ve been plagued by this fear of drains.JJ: What’s your favorite vacation you’ve ever taken?
ST: I went to this festival in Croatia called Outlook with 10 of my closest friends. It is basically just a music festival where the music goes from 12 at night to 6 in the morning. And then you wake up at 9 because it’s so hot and you’re in tents and you just walk 5 seconds to the beach. Then you basically recover from your hangover lying on a lilo in the sea. It’s amazing.JJ: What’s your favorite meal?
ST: Spaghetti. Anything spaghetti. Spaghetti with anything.
ST: I don’t really follow her style because I couldn’t pull it off, but I love Zoe Kravitz.JJ: The last show that you binge watched?
ST: It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.JJ: Favorite red carpet outfit you’ve ever worn?
ST: To the SAGs this year. It was a black Carolina Herrera dress.JJ: Biggest red carpet blooper?
ST: Anything before the age of 19.JJ: What’s the last purchase that you made?
ST: I purchased some cauliflower rice from Planet Organic.JJ: Favorite accessory?
ST: My Ralph Lauren polo cap. They are really cool in England, but I don’t think people wear them out here.JJ: What’s always in your purse?
ST: Tampons, just in case.JJ: Favorite Instagram account that you follow?
ST: Have you heard of F--k Jerry? It’s like the Fat Jewish.JJ: Favorite thing in your closet?
ST: This Acne jacket. It’s a khaki Acne jacket.JJ: Do you have any tattoos?
ST: Yeah here (points to inside her finger). It’s like a tally of 5 for my family of 5. I got it when I was really missing them in Canada. It was on my birthday and it was me and one person. We were the only people there. And I was like, “I’m on my birthday and I woke up and my parents aren’t here and my family isn’t here” so I got this. I’m very tight with them. It’s faded in certain parts so I’ve got to get it topped off. It rubs away easier so I try and keep my fingers like this (spreads them out).JJ: If you got another one, what would you get?
ST: So Game of Thrones – a few of us – me, Kit [Harington], Emilia [Clarke], Maisie [Williams], we were all thinking of getting the O with the three lines in it from the logo. We were thinking of getting that on our little finger, our little pinky. So I want that or I’m thinking of getting a smiley face on the bottom of my big toe just because I thought that would be really funny. That would rub off really quickly and it would just be pointless. It would be a pointless 60 quid wasted. Or I was going to get my friend Maddie’s initials. We were going to get each other’s initials but her initials are MS so I thought it wasn’t wise – like multiple sclerosis. I didn’t think that would go down too well if people saw it.JJ: And if that friendship went south, you’d have to turn it into a koi fish or something.
ST: Yeah exactly. But relationships are temporary, friendships are forever! Unless they sleep with your boyfriend (laughs)!