Sophie Turner 'terrified' of leaving Game Of Thrones, Sansa behind
She might have a starring role on the biggest drama on television but Sophie Turner admits to being scared about what the future holds once the final season of Game Of Thrones airs next year.
The 21-year-old actress, who plays Sansa Stark, says, "I'm a little bit terrified – scared of leaving the character, leaving the family of Game Of Thrones."
It's a strange claim for an actress who played psychic mutant Jean Grey in last year's X-Men: Apocalypse and is getting her own spin-off movie, Dark Phoenix, next year.
But she says, "It's hard to find projects like (Game Of Thrones) and it's really kind of terrifying to lose that safety net. I am scared not to have a guaranteed job in the summer, to have to fill up my time with little movies here and there.
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"That's probably why I signed on to that (Marvel) franchise as well 'cause you get like, 'I'm booking out another five months of my life. Thank God I don't have to worry about that'."
Which is probably just as well because as Sansa she has plenty to contend with.
Last season featured her transition from a sexually abused wife to a mover and shaker who killed her rapist husband and won back her home.
Programme makers are giving little away as to what season seven has in store but trailers hint at the chilling return of the White Walkers with Cersei, Daenerys and Jon Snow making their way to their respective thrones.
Quite where Sansa fits in remains to be seen but the revelation that Jon Snow is her cousin and not her bastard half brother has set fans speculating that a wedding could be on the cards.
Turner is giving nothing away about their relationship except to say, "They have always had a sibling rivalry and I think that rivalry will just continue.
"She'll be frustrated that he's still not listening to her, that he had the credit for winning back Winterfell when it was her, but I don't think they are going to be enemies.
"I think she is definitely a player. She's a manipulator. She's changed a lot, of course, since we first met her."
And Sansa isn't the only one who has undergone a transformation. Turner was just 13 when she joined the show after turning down a spot with London's prestigious Royal Ballet School in a bid to pursue an acting career.
Some fancy footwork might have kept Sansa alive during the fight for the Iron Throne but now Turner is turning her experiences on the show into a way to help other women.
Scenes in which her character was sexually abused by Ramsay Bolton created global outrage with many people claiming they should never have been aired.
"There was like a huge uproar and it was the trending topic on Twitter and lots of news outlets were talking about it," recalls Turner.
"People were saying how dare they portray this on screen, this is terrible, people shouldn't be seeing this.
"Well this happens every day to women and men all over the world. I was really glad that there was such a discussion over it because it meant that I could kind of use that then to go out and help women in these situations."
For Turner, that meant travelling to Rwanda with the charity Women For Women to give a voice to the victims of sexual assault.
"Hopefully then that will inspire people who have had that happen to them to have the confidence to come out and know that it's OK to talk about it," she says.
"Of course it's a terrible thing that's happened to them but (they should) know that speaking about it is not the crime."
While she is happy to play her part in helping abused women develop a survival strategy, to a much lesser extent she needed her own coping mechanism during her early years on the show. And helping her though was fellow actress Maisie Williams, who plays Sansa's younger sister Arya.
"Being alongside Maisie, and having someone who's in exactly the same position as you, has been so helpful," Turner says. "Having been thrown into this adult world with no prior experience is quite daunting.
"We have kind of leant on each other and kind of been each other's rocks through it, through the ups and the downs. It's been really a saving grace that we have had each other."
So looking back over the past seven seasons, what advice would Turner give both her younger self and a younger Sansa?
"The first advice Sansa would give to her younger self would probably be 'Wake up, don't see the world through rose-tinted glasses, listen, take in everything round you. All of the people that you meet, you'll learn something from. Suffering in silence isn't necessarily a bad thing. Absorb, because when the time is right you'll be able to use all of those lessons that you've learnt'," says Turner.
"And I guess in some ways it's kind of the same advice I'd give myself – like watch, learn, observe. The biggest drama class you'll ever have is this show and just embrace every moment. Don't take it for granted."
And while Turner, a natural blonde who dyed her hair red for this show, is imparting advice, she admits she has also learned some things from Sansa.
"She inspires me in so many ways," Turner says. "I wish I was more like her. Her strength is so inspiring to me – her independence, her kind of doing it for herself. That kind of motivated me to take control of my career and want to be more involved creatively in everything."
Brief encounters with the Game Of Thrones cast:
- Did you know? Isaac Hempstead Wright (Bran Stark) went to acting school only to get out of playing soccer on Saturday mornings. As to whether he will continue acting when Game Of Thrones ends, he says, "I'll give it a shot".
- Rory McCann (The Hound) responds to the suggestion by John Bradley (Sam) that hitting someone in the face is a horrible thing to do. "It depends who you are punching."
- Who should sit on the Iron Throne? "I'm not a monarchist. I think that just causes trouble. Perhaps a democratically elected government would work better in Westeros." Daniel Portman (Podrick Payne)
- What is it like to play the castrated leader of the Unsullied? "I had no idea that I would be asked every single day about my genitals. I didn't know that was going to become such a big part of my life." Jacob Anderson (Grey Worm)
- Do you like your character? "I do, yeah. I don't think he's a psychopath. Definitely a sociopath, but quite a friendly one." Aidan Gillen (Littlefinger)
- Liam Cunningham (Davos Seaworth) on the suggestion that the show has turned him into a superstar. "I'm not a superstar in my own ****ing house, I'll tell you that. Put out the garbage ... superstar, emmm."
Game Of Thrones, SoHo and Neon, returns Monday July 17.
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