Sophie Turner on X Men, Game of Thrones, and talking to therapists

Sophie Turner discusses her leading role in the new X-Men film and how her mourning for Game Of Thrones is not over yet

by Psychologies

Sophie Turner

7 minute read

Sophie Turner surprised the world by marrying her singersongwriter fiance, Joe Jonas, in Las Vegas, reportedly inside the infamous A Little White Chapel. The couple had been engaged since 2017 and it was rumoured that there was going to be a wedding in France later this year, but perhaps they just couldn’t bear to wait any longer.

Turner is not only in love, she’s also in the process of becoming one of Britain’s most popular stars. Having weathered a decade of untold savagery, destruction and bloody battles as Sansa Stark in Game Of Thrones, Turner is beginning the next chapter of her career as Jean Grey, aka Phoenix, in X-Men: Dark Phoenix. An adaption of the X-Men franchise, this film is an intensely personal and more female-centric exploration of the mutant saga.

‘I loved the fact that, from a female standpoint, some of the most powerful characters in this film are women,’ says Turner. ‘The leading character of the movie is a woman and she’s not only the protagonist but also the antagonist. That concept really excited me.’

In X-Men: Dark Phoenix – written and directed by Simon Kinberg, who also wrote the screenplays for the previous films – Turner’s character is drawn towards the dark side after an explosion takes place in space during an attempted X-Men rescue of NASA astronauts. Grey is no longer the same person after the accident and that creates havoc within their tight circle.

‘At the centre of this movie is the relationship between Scott Summers [Tye Sheridan, who plays Cyclops] and Jean,’ Turner explains. ‘There’s a theme throughout of Jean feeling abandoned, and Scott is the one person who sticks by her while she’s falling apart. It’s a heartbreaking story for him, but also one that his character deserves. Throughout the X-Men movies, he hasn’t had a main role and, this time, he steps up. It’s an amazing storyline for Scott and fans of Cyclops.’

While audiences are still recovering from the controversial final season of Game Of Thrones, Turner is feeling a rush of optimism about her life and career after enduring some dark moments while growing up in the world of Winterfell. She recently spoke about feeling depressed and talking to a therapist to help her cope: ‘Everyone needs a therapist, especially when people are constantly telling you that you’re not good enough and you don’t look good enough. I think that it’s necessary to have someone to talk to and to help you through that.’

Her close friend, Maisie Williams [who plays Sansa’s sister, Arya Stark], has stood by her during the tough times, and the pair have been known to tease each other affectionately on social media.

Here is what the engaging Turner, who is poised to become one of the biggest stars to emerge from the groundbreaking show, has to say about being elevated to a central position within the X-Men franchise, and how she is dealing with the end of her Game Of Thrones tenure, which saw long-suffering Sansa’s eventual rise to Queen in the North.

The interview

What is your take on Jean Grey and her incredible transformation in the new X-Men adventure?

I wanted to show that she was a young woman who was struggling; a human presence dealing with psychological problems that echo in us all.

How does X-Men: Dark Phoenix differ from the previous films?

It’s far more character-driven and emotional – in the same way that Logan was different in style from the other Wolverine and X-Men films. This is a family drama, rather than a superhero movie.

You became good friends with your co-star and on-screen love interest Tye Sheridan. Did that make shooting the film easier?

We’re great friends. I’ve always said to Tye that he’s the best on-screen boyfriend I’ve ever had. It’s so nice to have such a wonderful relationship with someone with whom you’re sharing really intimate scenes.

Three years ago, when you first played Jean Grey in X-Men: Apocalypse, did you know that the producers were preparing to make her a central figure?

Absolutely not. When I was playing Jean Grey in the previous movie, there were vague rumours that the Dark Phoenix story from the comics might be adapted for the follow-up movie. It was only a year and a half later that Simon Kinberg invited me to lunch and told me what he was planning. I was frightened because, in the comic world, this particular plot line is a big deal, so it meant that I would be under a lot of pressure. But, at the same time, it was a real honour to be taking up the challenge.

What was it like for you and the other cast members during the final weeks of filming Game Of Thrones?

It was an extremely emotional time. I was lucky that, on my last day, I was surrounded by the cast. We had been shooting the same scene for five days straight. Whenever someone wrapped, they brought out a storyboard of their character’s favourite scene – I couldn’t stop shaking and crying. It’s been nearly a decade for me; the majority of my life really. I’m still processing it. I haven’t accepted that it’s over yet. I don’t think I will absorb it until next year when I’m not back in Belfast with my Game Of Thrones family.

So you haven’t quite settled into life without Winterfell?

Not yet – I’m still in the middle of the mourning phase. The series occupied most of my youth. There were some years when I spent more time on the Winterfell set than at home. [Turner is from the tiny English village of Chesterton.] The cast and crew became my second family, and it’s hard for me to accept that they are no longer there for me and that Sansa is no longer part of my life.

Do you think that spending your adolescence – your formative years – on one of the most successful TV series in history has distorted your experience or view of life in any way?

Yes and no. I grew up in the spotlight from the age of 13 to 21, which is generally the most turbulent time for every girl. Those are the years that are difficult, even if you’re leading a normal life. You feel insecure and experience a lot of self-doubt. At times, it wasn’t easy for me.

Did your friendship with Maisie Williams help get you through the most emotionally testing moments?

Maisie has been the most wonderful friend to me over the years. We grew up together on Game Of Thrones and we have shared so many things and talked about everything. I hope that I have been supportive to her, too. We both leaned on each other during those times when we felt out of place and a little lost. It’s been so good to have such a great friend like her around and we are still very close.

Do you think that growing up in the constant company of adult actors meant you matured differently from other young women?

I think so. When you’re starting your career at a young age, you’re forced to grow up much faster. Also, playing a character like Sansa, and having to endure all the things she did, toughens you up. In the last couple of seasons, she began to understand the rules of the game and to take control of her life, using her understanding of politics to achieve what others do with weapons.

The film

X-Men: Dark Phoenix, directed by Simon Kinberg, is the story of one of X-Men’s most beloved characters, Jean Grey. During a life-threatening rescue mission in space, Grey is hit by a cosmic force that transforms her into one of the most powerful mutants of all. Wrestling with this increasingly unstable power, as well as her own personal demons, Grey spirals out of control, tearing the X-Men family apart and threatening to destroy the very fabric of our planet. This film is the culmination of 20 years of X-Men movies, as the clan of mutants that we’ve come to know and love must face their most devastating enemy yet – one of their own.

Words: Viva Press

Photograph: Christopher Patey/Contour RA by Getty Images

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