Throughout Game of Thrones’ eight brutal and bloody seasons, Sophie Turner’s Sansa Stark has endured more than pretty much anyone else still left standing. Her psychopathic husband ordered her father’s execution, her mother and brother were slaughtered at a wedding, she married two of the worst men ever depicted on screen and somehow managed to survive a completely demented mother-in-law.
“Sansa has been through a bit,” laughs the actress when we meet at a lavish downtown New York hotel where the candles smell expensive and no-one seems to talk above a whisper. Turner is quick to put those around her at ease, however – she’s snappy, engaging company and there’s an immediate levity to her that isn’t readily apparent in her on-screen work and public persona.
Yet as we chat, it quickly becomes apparent that Turner’s rise to fame has been a challenge. Behind the scenes of her decade-long run on the medieval fantasy phenomenon, the 23-year-old British star was fighting a battle that she felt at times was almost as dark as Sansa Stark’s reality.
The actress, who stars in the upcoming X-Men: Dark Phoenix and is engaged to musician Joe Jonas, is refreshingly honest about the way her mental health was impacted by fame – particularly traversing her awkward teenage years in front of millions, many of whom were quick to let her know what they thought. “I have experienced mental illness firsthand and I’ve seen what it can do to the people around [the sufferers] as well,” she says. “My metabolism suddenly decided to fall to the depths of the ocean and I started to get spotty and gain weight, and all of this was happening to me on camera.”
Then came pressure from film and television studios to lose weight. How, as a young girl, did she cope with that? “Therapy,” Turner says with a smile. “Everyone needs a therapist, especially when people are constantly telling you you’re not good enough and you don’t look good enough. I think it’s necessary to have someone to talk to, and to help you through that.”
Read the full interview in the June issue of marie claire, out Thursday.
X-Men: Dark Phoenix is in cinemas June 6.