When I talked to Sophie Turner (Game of Thrones’ Sansa Stark) for Wonderland magazine, almost exactly six years ago, she was 17, Season 3 of Game of Thrones was about to start, and everyone hated her character, as she told me emphatically. I thought about this after the watching the virtuoso feature-length episode that came out on Monday; without spoiling anything, things have really changed.
I had never watched the show until I was assigned this profile. I thought I could get away with watching the first and last episodes of the previous two seasons in order to write the piece. Four hours later, with absolutely no idea what was going on, I resigned myself to putting the show on in the background for a few days while doing things like tidying up and making dinner.
At the beginning it seemed sensational and overacted, with bad costumes, stagey lighting and weird chunks of arcane exposition, but soon I was doing less tidying and more watching, caught up in the meticulously crafted plot mechanics. By the end, a week seemed an awfully long time to wait until the next installment. Now, I’m only slightly ashamed to admit, I consume recaps, podcasts and the odd Reddit theory thread between episodes (shout out to Binge Mode and Throning It In) which I enjoy as much as any pop culture event I can think of this decade.
Anyway, here’s the mini profile. It was a lot of fun to do.
When people stop her in the street and say they love her Game of Thrones character, Sophie Turner says cheerfully, she knows they’re lying. The seventeen-year-old from Leamington Spa plays Sansa Stark, a willowy goody-two-shoes in contrast to her tough, tomboyish sibling Arya. “Everyone loves the little sister and hates me!” she mock-wails. “But that’s fine. I’m playing a controversial character. I knew that would come with it.”
Season Three will be “quite a depressing” season for Sansa, Sophie confesses, and then she thinks back over the last two – beatings, bereavement, forced marriage – and adds, “Again.” It must be tough to play someone whose life is so extreme, but Sophie began acting at three, gave up a spot at the Royal Ballet School in order to continue with it, and was cast in Game of Thrones at 13. She’s found a way to relate.
“Sansa was thrust into this adult world, and she had no idea what she was in for, she says. “The same has happened for me.” She dealt with it by forming “this little alliance” with the other actor-kids in her fictional family, whom you can hear raucously singing the theme tune together in an extremely cute YouTube clip. “I’m so embarrassed about that,” Sophie protests when it’s brought up. “You don’t understand!”
Now in Year 12, she’s planning on going to university eventually, and is cramming for exams at home due to all the school she missed this year, shooting Thrones and then a psychological thriller called Panda Eyes – her first starring role; her first feature – back to back. She’s too much of a pessimist not to have a fall-back plan, she says, but acting is all she’s ever wanted to do. “It’s like an addiction. If I have more than a week off working then I kind of lose my mind.”