Chief among the qualities that characterise the best screen stars is an innate understanding of their body as an instrument.
Watching actor Sophie Wilde, 23, stare down the barrel of the camera, bundled up in the latest Celine collection from designer Hedi Slimane, she fluidly shapeshifts for each frame, crouching for one before smoothly coming up for another. Her facial expressions change infinitesimally, each shot better than the last. It’s hard to imagine her doing anything else.
“It was always going to be acting,” she tells marie claire after the shoot. “It’s the earliest thing I remember wanting to do.”
A childhood spent going to “theater shows, the opera and random musicals” with her grandparents instilled a love of live drama, but it was seeing Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday that cemented her acting aspirations.
“That was the one for me. I just thought, ‘Shit. I want to do that.’”
So she got to work. At age five, while most kids still had crayons up their noses, Wilde started taking classes at the National Institute of Dramatic Arts (NIDA) and Australian Theatre for Young People. High school was spent at Sydney’s Newtown Performing Arts, where she counted another wunderkind actor, Odessa Young, among her best friends. For her postgraduate studies, the Ivorian-Australian actor returned to NIDA, an experience she describes diplomatically as “quite challenging”. “But I learnt a lot about myself doing that course, and a lot about resilience and things that I’ve had to take on now that I’m actually out and working.”
Since graduating, she’s emerged as one of Australia’s brightest ingenues. She played Ophelia in Bell Shakespeare’s 2020 production of Hamlet, cast as the lead in the Stan series Eden, then backed that up with another leading role in the hotly anticipated BBC miniseries You Don’t Know Me, filmed in Birmingham. Most recently, she finished shooting her first film, The Portable Door. And yes, she’s a lead in that, too. This is all in the space of 18 months, mind you, mid-pandemic. “The imposter syndrome was hella real on that one,” says Wilde, who stars opposite Sam Neill, Christoph Waltz and Miranda Otto in the movie.
She admits one of the main takeaways of her meteoric rise has been learning to back herself.
“Everyone has these feelings of being an imposter, no matter how long you’ve been in this career,” she reflects.
“They’re absolutely winging it. And that’s really comforting to know, because I most certainly am winging it. I am faking it until I make it.” With talent like hers, we have no doubt: make it, she will.