The rumored soon-to-be mom on her new TV show, marriage, and her ‘built-in girlfriends’ the Jonas Sisters.
The Queen in the North is sitting regally before a lighted mirror in the kitchen of a luxurious house in Venice Beach, California. Outside the large front windows, a river of humanity streams past on the Strand—walkers and runners and riders of all manner of wheeled conveyance. Across a wide expanse of fine sand lies the Pacific Ocean, a dazzling azure sea against a cloudless sky of Crayola blue.
Inside the house, Sophie Turner, 24, submits to the ministrations of her attendants. Though her hair is back to its natural blond, she is immediately recognizable as the English schoolgirl who first appeared on our screens nine years ago, at the age of 13, in the beloved and much-lauded HBO series Game of Thrones.
As the auburn-haired Sansa Stark, Turner portrayed with gathering skill the coming of age of a young woman who suffered greatly over the course of the show’s eight seasons, yet prevailed mightily in the end, leading her kingdom to independence. In 2019, the final year of the show, Turner was nominated for an Emmy for outstanding supporting actress in a drama.
And, of course, over the last three-plus years there’s been her well-publicized relationship and recent marriage to pop superstar Joe Jonas, along with her appearance in two music videos as part of the trio of Jonas Brothers wives known as the J Sisters: Priyanka Chopra, the hugely famous Indian actress who is married to the youngest Jonas brother, Nick; and Danielle “Dani” Deleasa Jonas, who is perhaps best known for the reality show Married to Jonas, about her marriage to the eldest Jonas brother, Kevin.
“With Joe, I always felt like I was the one who was punching, like, way above my league. And I still feel like that,” Turner says. “He’s so handsome, talented, funny, charismatic. I’m really lucky to be with him and have someone like him want to be around me and spend time with me.” As this issue goes to press, multiple sources have reportedly confirmed to the entertainment site Just Jared that Turner is pregnant with the couple’s first child. Needless to say, the absence of an “official” confirmation did little to quell enthusiasm online, with “Sophie Turner is pregnant” trending within hours of the story breaking.
Alas, before rumored baby Jonas arrives later this year, there is work to do. Turner’s next project premieres in April: Survive, a 12-part dramatic series based on the critically acclaimed novel by Alex Morel, in which she plays a suicidal young woman who becomes one of only two survivors (along with Corey Hawkins, from Straight Outta Compton) when their plane crashes into a remote, snow-covered mountain. The show will be featured on a disruptive new entertainment platform created by a tech and entertainment start-up called Quibi (the name is derived from the phrase quick bites). The subscription-based service will offer movie-quality shows lasting 10 minutes or less—all of it on your mobile phone.
Speed is the last thing on Sophie’s mind as she sits down for yet another makeup tweak at her ELLE shoot in Venice Beach. It is just past 3 p.m., and the photo session, featuring a range of new looks from Louis Vuitton (Turner is a friend of the house), has been going since 9 a.m. As a makeup artist uses a fine brush to color Turner’s eyelids a shade of electric blue, a production assistant appears with some fortifying cookies. As it happens, almost everyone in the room is a native of England. Talk turns to the subject of comfort food.
“Cheese and Branston pickle sandwiches, with crisps,” Turner sings, meaning potato chips.
“Freddo bars! Weetabix! Flake bars! Twirls!” adds another. “Ready Brek!” says the makeup artist.
“Galaxy hot chocolate,” intones Turner, almost worshipfully.
“And any sausage. Sausage is not the same over here as it is in England. And fish and chips! You cannot get good fish and chips here! It’s a crime, it really is.”
Finally, it’s time for the next setup. We proceed in a single line out the side door—a production assistant in the lead, followed by Turner, her publicist, her makeup artist, her hairdresser, the hairdresser’s assistant, and me. At the back of the house, we reach an alley. A large black SUV is waiting. We all load in.
“How far are we going?” Turner asks, routinely enough.
“Um, just to the corner?” upspeaks the driver. She points through the windshield at the knot of people and equipment at the end of the alley, no more than 200 feet away.
The SUV sets off gingerly. “I feel like such a dick,” Turner deadpans. I like her immediately.
The ghosts of uncountable celebrity interviews inhabit the lobby of the Chateau Marmont, the legendary Hollywood hideaway, just north of Sunset Boulevard, which has somehow managed over the decades to maintain its shine and currency as both a hotel and a gathering place. We meet at a small round table with plush, high-backed chairs. Sun slanting through the window from the garden restaurant radiates warm light. Jazz from the analog turntable and speakers on the credenza nearby lends a jaunty air.
Sophie Belinda Jonas, her legal name, is wearing a comfortably worn pair of white Umbro sport shoes and a matching ash-gray sweatshirt and sweatpants, emblazoned on the chest and leg with the word “Erewhon,” the name of a frightfully high-end organic grocery chain in the L.A. area. Only the sweats aren’t made by Erewhon. They’re made by a company called Pizzaslime. “It’s ironic because Erewhon’s so expensive. That’s kinda why I like it,” Turner says.
And so it proceeds for the next 90 minutes: a little bit of brekky with a funny and talented 24-year-old with a gift for wisecracks and nimble comebacks, who doesn’t seem to take herself too seriously, who worries she curses too much and may be a little less PC than she should be, “because English people are perhaps a little more okay than Americans with being sarcastic and rude to each other.”
Turner grew up in Chesterton, Warwickshire, about a two- hour drive northwest of London. Her dad, Andrew, worked as a manager for a company that distributed shipping pallets. Later, he became a logistics consultant. Her mom, Sally, taught nursery school. Her brothers, a lawyer and a doctor, seven and nine years older, “are my best friends to this day.”
Turner says she was “really, really shy as a kid. I wouldn’t say, like, hello or goodbye or anything. I was, like, cripplingly shy. So my mom sent me to this drama school, the Playbox Theatre Company.” She started when she was 3 and attended through age 18, time off from GoT permitting. “All my friends started there, and we were together all the time—it was like our church; we loved it. It was magical.”
“You must enjoy a crowd,” I say. “When you married Joe, you married a whole family.”
“It’s true,” Turner says. “I need that, because I like to feel like I belong to something that’s, like, bigger than just me.”
“Were you always a Jonas Brothers fan?” She pauses a moment as our late-morning snacks are served—she orders a bowl of mixed berries; I get a croissant with a side of crispy bacon.
Picking up a blueberry with two fingers, she turns it this way and that, as if lost in a fleeting memory. “My friends and I were not Jonas Brothers fans,” she says, laughing wickedly.
“There was this band in the UK called Busted,” she continues. “They had a hit called ‘Year 3000.’ It was amazing, and we were huge Busted fans. Then the Jonas Brothers covered the song and made it massive. And Busted broke up. We thought it was all the Jonas Brothers’ fault. So we hated them.”
Turner remembers that she was working on a movie in 2016 when one of the producers, who had once lived next door to the Jonas Brothers, told her: “You should meet Joe Jonas. I feel like you would really get along with this guy.” Not long after, she says, “I went to a meeting, and Joe’s agent was in the room. And he was like, ‘You remind me of one of my clients. I bet you two would really hit it off.’ ”
Later in the year, Jonas was touring the UK. Before he arrived, he DMed her and asked if she wanted to hang out while he was in town. “I was living with my friends in Camden, in a really rough flat— people were always climbing in and out of the windows. When I told my friends, they were like, ‘That’s hilarious. You have to do it! And you have to text us everything he says.’
“I expected him to show up with security and everything. I thought, ‘He’s gonna be such a dick.’ I brought all my guy friends to come with me to meet him, because in the back of my mind I still worried that he could be a catfish—or I don’t know what. I just wanted my guy friends with me. I had my rugby boys. I was safe.”
The meetup happened at a bar in Camden. “It was just this local shitty bar, dirty, with great music and people throwing up everywhere. It was that kind of place. Kind of like the worst, but also kind of the best.
“He didn’t bring security. He brought a friend, and they drank just as hard as the rest of us. I remember the two of us spending only a couple of minutes on the dance floor, and then we just found a space far in the corner and we just talked. We talked for hours, and hours, and hours. And I was, like, not bored. It wasn’t contrived. It wasn’t small talk—it was just so easy. And soon we were, like, inseparable. I went on tour with him.”
The couple became engaged on their first anniversary. She is wearing her engagement ring now—a solitaire pear-cut diamond set on a double pavé band in white gold—with its matching pavé wedding ring. Her fingers are long and slim. “I was the tall girl,” she says. “I looked about four years older than I actually was. When I was 10, the boys in my year were up to here”—she points to her rib cage—“and it was very embarrassing. I had an interview with a ballet academy where you board to go to school, and you take all your lessons there. It’s very serious. I auditioned to go there. And they said I was, like, too tall to be a ballerina.”
They were married twice. The first time was on May 1, 2019, in Las Vegas, at a ceremony officiated by an Elvis impersonator at A Little White Wedding Chapel. Nearly two months later, they had a second, more formal ceremony in the South of France. “How is being married different from being in a committed relationship?” I ask.
“I feel like the only thing that’s changed for me is having this incredible sense of security. Just the word husband and the word wife—it just solidifies the relationship. I love being married. I think it’s wonderful. I’m sure we’ll have our hiccups and our different things. But right now, it’s like the security and the safety is everything.”
“It’s also nice to have built-in girlfriends,” she adds, referencing the J Sisters, “who are actually really cool, who I can hang out with and we can really talk to each other about, like, how crazy the boys’ lives are. We can relate on so many different levels. It’s like, thank God, because you never know [about your in-laws].”
“With Pri, especially, it’s kind of crazy. You have to remind yourself that she’s basically had a 20-year career in Bollywood already. She’s like the biggest thing in India right now. When we went there for her and Nick’s wedding, we were treated like royalty. They worship her over there. It’s kinda crazy. But she’s just the nicest person, and they live, like, 10 minutes away. And even though Kevin and Danielle live in New Jersey, we see them all the time. It’s like we’re all one big family, because the boys are best friends.”
Before meeting Turner, I had stopped by Quibi headquarters in Hollywood, where I became the first person, outside of Quibi and the production team, to view Turner’s show, Survive, on an actual phone. (They provided a new Google Pixel.) The package features a technology called Turnstyle, which enables the viewer to turn the phone either horizontally or vertically—back and forth at will—to experience an entirely different cut of the visual content, shot with additional cameras.
I was given three episodes of the series, which I watched in rapid succession on a sofa in a glass conference room, the phone propped upon my man purse atop my lap. The viewing was unexpectedly accessible; the cinematography was gorgeously detailed. Turner’s performance was intense and compelling. Hawkins had just entered the picture when episode three was done. I definitely wanted more.
“The second I finished Game of Thrones,” Turner says, “I wanted to go straight back to some form of television. I just love the atmosphere that you get on the set. I love the arc you can create over a number of episodes. When I found out about Quibi, it’s kinda one of those things where you go, ‘I don’t really know if this is gonna work, but I wanna be a part of it.’ And then I read the script and I fell in love with it.”
“In Survive, my character has been in rehab for [almost] an entire year,” Turner adds. “And I actually suffer from depression. I also suffer from anxiety and eating disorders. It felt like I knew so much of that world.”
“Has doing the series helped you with your own issues?” I ask. She shrugs her shoulders, eats another blueberry.
“I suppose, yeah, at the time, it’s very therapeutic, because I’m not thinking about myself. But then afterwards, um, not so much.” She pops the tart blue orb into her mouth. “What happens is…I’ve been so obsessed with portraying this other character’s problems that I haven’t actually worked on me.”
Our time together is quickly coming to an end. Turner has been a model subject, answering questions candidly and in detail that perhaps nobody has bothered asking her before, revealing herself to be an earnest and diverting interview partner. Across the lobby, I see Turner’s publicist taking a seat on the couch. She gives me a little no-nonsense nod that seems somehow distinctly English. I have time for one more.
I ask her about the ending of Game of Thrones. “I haven’t watched it,” she says. “That’s a safe answer,” I say archly, knowing she’s happy operating a little bit south of the PC border. I eat the last bit of crispy bacon. And wait for her answer.
“I started watching when the last season started,” she says, “and I was planning to watch the rest. But then I fell behind. And then I started reading all these comments online….” I ease her off the hook: “And you didn’t want to ruin it?”
“I feel like you are never going to have everybody be satisfied with the ending. Especially a show that’s been going on for almost 10 years at that point. People have so many ideas of how they want it to end. You can’t make every fan happy.” I pose one last question.
“How does it feel to have been part of one of the greatest shows of all time?”
“Pretty much since season three, we’ve been hearing, ‘Game of Thrones! It’s a phenomenon!’ I’ve been trying to, like, comprehend that. But when you’re in it, you can’t see it. Now that I’m out of it, I’m only starting to realize how incredible it was, what a revelation it was for television. I’m like, ‘Oh my God, I’ve been, like, blessed.’ When it’s happening, you don’t realize you’re among greatness: The people I was around. The atmosphere. The way they worked. I was spoiled by that show completely. And I’ll never have anything like it again. Nothing will be the same. And only now am I realizing that.” [Source]