‘Game of Thrones’ star Sophie Turner on Sansa’s struggle

When I was arranging my “Game of Thrones” actor interviews a few weeks ago (this week I”ve already posted chats with Alfie Allen and Gwendoline Christie, plus an email exchange with Benioff and Weiss), I put in a special request to interview the three older Stark children together, mainly so we could discuss their annual DVD commentaries where they take different approaches to performing the show”s theme song. (In season 1, they sang it. In season 2, they beat-boxed and rapped. Season 3 involved percussion.)

Unfortunately, the schedules didn”t quite work out, and I wound up interviewing Sophie Turner on her own and then Maisie Williams and Isaac Hempstead-Wright together (look for that one tomorrow). But the solo conversation with Turner went quite well despite the absence of her fictional siblings, as we discussed how the real-life bonds formed between them, what it”s been like for her to act opposite some of the finest actors in the UK, the huge difference between Jack Gleeson and King Joffrey, and more. But we still started out, briefly, on the DVD commentaries.

I have to say that I love when the DVD comes out and I get to the episode where you and Maisie and Isaac have recorded a commentary.

Sophie Turner: (she buries her face in her hands) It’s so embarrassing.

I’m sorry.

Sophie Turner: I’m glad you like it.

There is a real chemistry between the three of you considering that you haven’t worked with them for a long time now.

Sophie Turner: Yeah. I think I’ve – have I only done one total scene with Isaac ever in my life? And Maisie, we haven’t been working together since Season 1. It’s crazy, but I do have a good rapport with them both.

How did that form? What was it like at the beginning of the series when you were all up at the Winterfell location playing the tight-knit family?

Sophie Turner: We bonded very quickly, because like we’d never done anything like this before, so we were all coming together and asking, “What do we do?” We were all young and excited. And our parents were chaperoning, and they became close so then it’s the two generation of friendship. It was really easy, to be honest, to get the camaraderie of everything. And then it just formed naturally with Sean (Bean) and Michelle (Fairley) and Richard (Madden), it was easy because they’re all just so lovely.

When you’re off in one location and they’re off in others and your schedules are different, how close in touch do you stay?

Sophie Turner: With Maisie and I, when I’m not in Croatia, we’re generally in Belfast at the same time, not so much Isaac. So we see each other all the time. And then during our time off we all meet up anyway. It’s really easy.

Since Sansa arrived in Kings Landing, you have been placed in front of kind of murderers row of the great English actors, Charles Dance and Diana Rigg and everyone else. How has that been for you?

Sophie Turner: It’s been amazing. It’s been like the best acting lesson you can get, working with these people. It’s crazy; last night we had this cast dinner, and I was looking at this table and it was Conleth Hill, Charles Dance and Diana Rigg, and I was saying that this is like a stage actor’s dream to be sitting with them. It’s amazing getting to go into work and working with people like Peter, Charles, Diana, Natalie Dormer.

“The Avengers” is even before my time so it’s way before yours. Is that something you’re even aware of?

Sophie Turner: I’d heard of it, but I’ve never seen it. But I knew Diana because she’s just a person that you know. Everyone knows Dame Di.

She’s just a person that you know.

Sophie Turner: But then I did my research and I was like, “Ohm she’s a big deal. That’s why she’s a Dame.”

And does she carry herself like a Dame on the set?

Sophie Turner: Not in a diva way, but like she knows what’s up. She knows the business back to front. She suffers no fools, and quite rightly. If there’s no need to do 20 million takes when you’ve already got it on the fifth take, she’ll say, “Come on, we need to hurry up because we’ve got it.” She just knows what she’s doing and I have so much admiration for her.

So 40 years from now, when you’re Dame Sophie Turner that’s how you’re going to roll?

Sophie Turner: That’s how I’m going to roll. Queen Sophie Turner. Let’s not settle for Dame.

How many of the books had you read beforehand? What have you read at this point?

Sophie Turner: I’ve read book four part one, but only my chapters.

Because you want to be surprised on everything else?

Sophie Turner: No, it’s more like I want to be able to go back at the end of “Game of Thrones” and read everything, so I don’t want to briefly skim over while I’m trying to get to my chapters and figure out the internal monologue. I want to really have a good sit down and be able to read it to myself.

What does having those texts available to you with Sansa as one of the POV characters give you as an actress playing the part?

Sophie Turner: It just gives you the internal monologue and it gives you the background on the characters that you might not get from the script. It gives you all the necessary things that you need to build up the character. And it’s so useful, because normally just have like a script for anything else, but you actually have so many tools to use. The script is our Bible for the storyline. But the books just help you round out the character.

She’s a character who has had to, in a lot of stretches, silently endure things. So I imagine that is useful to you to sort of figure out where her head is that in any one moment.

Sophie Turner: Yeah. Because normally she’s just crying or looking sad, so it’s good to figure out what she’s actually feeling.

There was that moment toward the end of last season where she and Tyrion were actually getting along. They were joking together and then the news of the Red Wedding came and ruined everything.

Sophie Turner: Yes. Always ruining. Thanks, George, for ruining people”s lives daily.

Have you ever actually complained to George about all of the terrible things that she has to suffer?

Sophie Turner: No, because I like doing it. I like doing the crying and I like doing the getting beat up, but I am ready to move on from that and change Sansa around a bit; give her a bit of something else.

There’s a moment at the end of Season 2 where The Hound offers to take her away and she chooses not to go. Why in your mind would she not take this exit from this horrible place with these horrible people who’ve been keeping her prisoner and killed her father?

Sophie Turner: She didn’t go with The Hound because she doesn’t trust him. She doesn’t trust anyone, but she for sure doesn’t trust him. And she’s not going to go somewhere where she’s one-on-one with someone who is so unstable. And so she feels like if she just waits it out in Kings Landing, then she’ll be able to get out that way. And she doesn’t want to escape and then have the Lannisters chasing her because who wants that? No one.

What has Jack Gleeson been like to work with over the years? Because he”s playing the worst human being alive.

Sophie Turner: Yes. And yet he’s the most wonderful human being alive. He is one of the best actors I’ve ever worked with. No doubt about that. And he’s just been an absolute dream. He doesn’t complain. He’s there on time. He’s not a diva. He’s a dream to work with and he’s become a really close friend of mine.

Obviously acting is acting, but the director calls action and all of a sudden he goes from this good friend of yours to this monster who crushes bugs.

Sophie Turner: Yeah, a maniacal weirdo. What makes him one of the best actors on the show is the fact that he goes from this lovely gentle sweet human being to this monster like that, and he carries it off so convincingly. It’s brilliant.

Have you noticed that the fan reaction to you and to Sansa has changed over the seasons? I got the sense early on that people thought, “Oh, what a spoiled girl who doesn”t see what Joffrey is.”

Sophie Turner: I think people are starting to root for her a lot more. I don’t think anyone really had any hope. They wouldn’t put any hopes into her because at the beginning she was kind of useless. But I think people are definitely rooting for her more and at the end of this season, I think she’ll have a lot more fans on her side because she becomes really cool.

You”ve been stuck as this prisoner for several seasons and been witness to these terrible things. Meanwhile, Maisie is wandering the countryside. She’s got a sword.

Sophie Turner: I know! Give me a sword! Give me some trousers for once! But it’s all fun. I look on the bright side. I get pretty dresses. I get to stay indoors. I get to go to the hot countries.

Have the two of you ever talked about what it would be like if you were to trade parts?

Sophie Turner: No we haven’t. Maisie comes back with grubby fingernails and she’s like, “Oh my God.” And I come back and I’ve got this beautiful hair, going, “Oh, hello, Maisie.” So she’s always wanted to do that. And I want to get in the mud and scrap around a bit and not have to stand up and not be able to sit down in fear of creasing my dress and stuff like that. It’s just little things like that.

You also hadn’t worked with Richard Madden or Michelle Fairley in quite a while. You knew that the Red Wedding was coming, but watching that, how did that feel to you to see your brother and mother go down in that way?

Sophie Turner: It was so upsetting because Richard and Michelle felt like a second family to me. I always called Michelle my second mommy. And it was devastating to watch. It’s horrible. You know it’s coming but it was done so well – the music and the lighting and everything and the direction; it was amazing.

And I imagine because you weren’t there it feels sort of more intense in a way than when they cut Ned’s head off, because you were just on the set with Sean for that one.

Sophie Turner: Yeah. I didn’t get to see all the joking around that was a probably happening in between takes so it just feels a lot more real.

Alan Sepinwall may be reached at sepinwall@hitfix.com

NOTE: No more comments on any “Game of Thrones” posts. I tried setting up separate message board threads for readers and non-readers, but that unfortunately didn’t work out so well. Sorry.