The past few months have been epic in the career of actress of Sophie Turner. Her time as playing Sansa Stark in Game of Thrones drew to a close and now in Dark Phoenix she sees her character of Jean Grey step up to become the first female X-Men to lead a film. As we are about to find out that is something that certainly isn’t lost on the young actress.
“Jean Grey,” Turner says laughing when she is asked who her favourite X-Man was when she was growing up. “I’m not even lying. When I was really young the first ever comic book I read was the Dark Phoenix comic book and I didn’t read another one until I got cast in X-Men and then I read Dark Phoenix again… so it is the only comic book that I have ever read.”
Of course Turner followed in the foot-steps of Famke Janssen who played Jean Grey in the earlier X-Men franchise and she says the two did talk. “I actually got her email when i was first cast,” she explains. “We emailed back and forth about where I was coming from to approach the character and whether she had any movies or music that she would listen to or any kind of material that she read to get into the psyche of Jean, and she also just gave me her blessing for the role which was really nice. That was nice to have because when you take over a role from someone you always want to make sure that it is okay with them… but yeah she was lovely.”
“There were a lot of challenges playing this character,” says Turner after she thinks for a moment when asked what the challenges are playing Jean. “I think the biggest challenge was just trying to ground all of these fantastic things that were happening to her and trying to ground it in something that will resinate with the audience, so they aren’t just saying ‘oh look at all those crazy things that are happening to Jean’. So we wanted to study mental illness for it, specifically schizophrenia, personality disorders and also addiction. It wasn’t necessarily the hardest but it did take the longest process to kind of figure out what was going on in her head for this movie. It was extensive but it was fun.”
That leads to the question of what was the most challenging action sequence to film for Dark Phoenix and Turner laughs. “Lucky for me I am telekinetic so for me there is just a lot of me doing this,” she says waving her hand back and forward. “I did do a lot of wire-work though, which is fun. I love going up on wires – that is movie magic. I think the most challenging one to shoot was probably this scene where I am trying to defeat the bad guys and these bad guys are coming at me but they are other-wordly so they are running incredibly fast so they are on a wire that pulls them along really quickly and they would have to stop right in front of me. So we would have to make sure that the mark was exactly right because I had to hold my hand out. They would come so close to my hand that I would be like ‘oh my God are they going to break my hand.’ That was a lot of fun and it was probably the most dangerous thing – and it wasn’t even that dangerous…. it was fun and I’m safe and unhurt.”
This film also sees the arrival of Jessica Chastain playing Vuk and Turner says she enjoyed their scenes together. “It is amazing working with Jess,” she says with a smile. “To have such amazing scenes between two very strong female characters. Jess’s character is an antagonist but in a way she is also empowering Jean so there are all these wonderfully complex scenes that just aren’t between good and evil – that was good plus Jess is just so much fun to work with. She is a real prankster she likes to have a lot of fun, she dances a lot on set, she sings and she is just so much fun to work with.”
Dark Phoenix is in cinemas now.