Teenage girls rarely make the wisest decisions when it comes to first love. Few people understand that fact as well as Sophie Turner, who plays the eldest daughter of House Stark on HBO’s wildly popular “Game of Thrones.”
During the series’ four seasons, Sansa Stark has found herself paying dearly for her affection for Joffrey Baratheon (Jack Gleeson), the sadistic boy king — watching him order her father beheaded, enduring his cruelty at court, fearing for her safety when he threw her over for Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer).
(Anyone not current with the series might be advised to stop reading now — spoilers ahead.)
So, is it fair to say that Sansa took some delight in the fact that Joffrey met with a grim fate at his own nuptials, an event known in the lore of the show as the Purple Wedding? Well, maybe just a little bit.
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“No one wants to deal with Joffrey,” Turner said in an interview last month. “No one wants a Joffrey in their lives…. We shot that scene, it was like a five-day shoot and the food was going off, it was so hot. It was surreal – you have these dancing dwarfs in front of you, they were blowing fire, and contortionists. It was bizarre but amazing.”
Seated in a downtown San Diego hotel, the English actress, 18, had arrived in town for Comic-Con International, the annual pop culture expo celebrating all aspects of fan culture. “Game of Thrones,” the lavish fantasy adapted from George R.R. Martin’s literary saga, “A Song of Ice and Fire,” was among the marquee attractions at Comic-Con, with enthusiasts dressing as a host of characters from the series and lining up to pepper the cast and creators with questions during a panel presentation devoted to the show.
Turner has often found herself defending Sansa against detractors frustrated by her poor choices or frustrated by her perceived passivity, and she said she was especially cheered when one woman came to the microphone and declared herself an avowed member of “Team Sansa.”
“That was awesome because no one is Team Sansa,” Turner said, adding that some viewers are developing more of an appreciation for the character. “People are adjusting. I think it’s helped that she actually did something kind of cool last season where she was like manipulating and a little bit bad-ass.”
The events depicted in the Purple Wedding episode, “The Lion and the Rose,” set in motion a serious change for Sansa, who found herself whisked away from King’s Landing — and her husband, Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) — by Petyr Baelish (Aidan Gillen), the Westerosi operator known as Littlefinger. He took her to the Eyrie, where she would ostensibly fall under the protection of her Aunt Lysa (Kate Dickie), but that arrangement doesn’t necessarily play out as expected.
It did, however, give Sansa the chance to demonstrate that she has developed the capacity for cunning that can be critical to surviving in the brutal world of the show.
“It was crazy to get out of King’s Landing,” Turner said. “I’ve been there for the past three years of my life. [I went] from having a storyline with nearly everyone in the show, then it was suddenly me and Aiden. It’s nice to have a really meaty chunk of dialogue because Sansa, when she was in King’s Landing, there was no dialogue, so it’s nice to have that change. It is welcome.”
Still, Turner said she has fond memories of her time shooting in Croatia, which stands in for the royal port on the show, and she especially came to prize her working relationship with Dinklage, who won an Emmy and a Golden Globe for his portrayal of the black sheep of House Lannister, the clever dwarf who might be the clan’s most ethical member.
“Doing the scenes with Peter is fun because he’s so funny and we get on really well,” Turner said. “It’s nice because we both really understand the relationship that they have. They have this unspoken trust – she’s so much more open with him than she is with [other people]. You can see she’s a lot more relaxed around him, even if it’s just a snarky comment, she wouldn’t say that to someone else in court. She doesn’t want to trust him because he’s a Lannister but she knows that she can. It’s really sweet.
“It’s fun being with Aidan and doing those very intimate scenes with just us two, but I kind of miss being in those huge scenes in the background,” she added. “You can just kind of mess around and be stupid for the whole day with Peter.”
She’s now begun shooting episodes for “Game of Thrones’” fifth season, but could only speak in generalities about what the upcoming installments might hold for Sansa: “I can’t reveal much, but there’s a big change for her this season and there’s a few familiar faces around.”
Turner was more forthcoming about a trio of projects that will bring her into the real world, or at least into contemporary costumes. She has a starring role in the upcoming thriller, “Another Me,” set for release Aug. 22, about a teenager stalked by a mysterious doppelganger, and Turner is also featured in the action comedy “Barely Lethal” opposite Samuel L. Jackson, Jessica Alba and Hailee Steinfeld, tentatively due out later this year. In 2015, she’ll be seen in the indie movie “Alone,” with Ray Liotta and Mark Kassen.
“My character is kind of a hippie, so all my stuff was very loose-fitting,” Turner said. “I was like, I’ve never been this comfortable on a set before. I had wooly socks! I was like, what is this? I don’t have a corset?”
Looking further into the future, Turner said she’s keeping an open mind. The youngest in a family of three children, the actress aspires to study history and psychology at some point, but has no plans at present to put her career on hold. But Turner said she’s weighing options beyond performing, even though she’s long been drawn to acting.
“My eldest brother is a doctor, the middle brother just graduated from uni doing politics so they’re the intelligent ones in the family and I’m the creative one,” Turner said. “I have no idea what way I’m going to go, or if I’m going to even stick at acting. If I was to stick at it, I really don’t know what kind of career I want. I would love to do a Judd Apatow movie, that’s something that I want to tick off the bucket list. Maybe a biopic – Audrey Hepburn, that would be fun, someone from history.
“I get bored very quickly with pretty much anything, any aspect of my life, so who knows?” she continued. “It would suck if I got bored of acting though, because I have no other talents, like nothing. That’s actually true.”