Sophie Thatcher is a breath of fresh air. One of those names that you just know are going to keep ringing out, and loud. Despite her youth – she’s only 22 at the time of the interview – Sophie evokes an indie muse with a broken voice and light in her eyes that we’ll all end up loving. And de- spite her vulnerability, a trait she mentions often and in a positive way, Sophie shows her strength and tremendous maturity both in the film industry and on a personal level, without losing an inch of charm. Sophie is spontaneous, funny, hard-working and has a fantastic sensitivity.
Interview tak­en from METAL Magazine issue 48. Adapted for the online version. Order your copy here.
Currently enjoying the outstanding response of the hit series Yellowjackets and excited for her last project, the Stephen King adaptation horror-thriller The Boogeyman, Sophie also starred in Prospect, where she had her breakout role alongside with Pedro Pascal, Disney’s The Book of Boba Fett and The Exorcist, among others.
While acting is the most natural thing for her, and what she has done with an innate talent since the age of four, Sophie also draws, paints and makes collages – art was always her twin’s thing, she says –, and now she’s confident to share the music that she makes with her boyfriend, Austin, with whom she recently moved to live with in Los Angeles.
From her desk in sunny LA, the artist opens up about what gives her joy, who she is when she’s her most joyful self, growing to love being different, her favourite city in the world, the last live show she went to, how she disconnects from these dark stories she stars in, her not-so guilty pleasures, and her happiest memory.
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Full look RICK OWENS.
You started acting when you were 4 years old. At that age, most of us staged at least a small show for our parents at home or played theatre at school. But you joined a performing arts school. How did acting make you feel at that time?
It felt invigorating, empowering. It felt kind of explosive and a release all at once. And that’s the way I have always been craving that intensity since I was a kid. And it’s such a nice distraction, as well, to be out of yourself. It’s like a way to feel less lonely, is to take on another persona. And I’ve always felt that. It can also be very abstract describing it, but it was always just innate, and gave me drive.
At the age of 15, you landed your first major role in the 2016 TV series adaptation of The Exorcist. I can imagine your experience as a teenager was very different than the typical one. Did you have time to make new friends? Were you a happy teenager?
It’s interesting because I still have my core friend group from middle school. And I think I’m the kind of person that only needs a couple of friends that know everything about me and have been through everything with me, because that means just a lot more to me. It’s hard to start friendships now or at that time, when you’re so busy and people can’t really recognise how busy you are. It was a bit of a disconnect, always working with adults, and then going to school. Feeling like I was 12 going on 30, which is a common child actor thing, but it was very real. Definitely, when I moved to this place called Evanston, near Chicago, I found people that were interested in the same things as me: music. We were all kind of outcasts, to some extent, but bonded over that and had a very small niche group. So, I don’t think I was like, necessarily unhappy, I was just a very emotional teenager.
And looking back it was just that age, so intense and so emotional. Everything was either up or down, but that’s just being a teenager [laughs].
Totally, I can tell. At the end of the day, you were working in such a self-conscious industry. How was your relationship with yourself during that period? How did you speak to yourself?
I was always very mean to myself at first and had this idea that I had to be this blank slate and have blonde hair and look neutral. And I know that I’m not – me, myself – neutral. I can pull my hair back for an audition, I can be completely slicked back, but in my everyday life, I don’t have to be that. Now I’ve realised that. It’s hard with body image issues – growing up in this time with social media, I’ve always had problems with that. I have OCD, so it’s something that’s kind of there in the back of my head. It was hard to shut down those voices. I went to therapy, and I think everybody should be in therapy. I need to get back into it. But when I was a teenager, everything was just so intense. Also, starting in the industry and seeing yourself for the first time on camera is a very disorienting experience. You have to learn to disassociate to an extent and realise that you are playing a character that is not you. I’m not a blank slate as Sophie. But when I go into an audition, I can do anything. And that’s my job. It’s learning how to disconnect yourself from your persona and the character primarily.
You said that you were very mean to yourself at the beginning. How has that changed over time?
I’m still working on it. I think I have a lot more confidence now. I’ve always had confidence in my ability as an actress, and I know no matter what, acting is just innate in me – it’s the most natural thing for me. I don’t know how it happened, but it’s so natural, and I’m so glad I have that. I’ve always been confident in that. But I think now I’ve just grown to love being different. It feels good to stand out sometimes and not be compared to other people, because that is a really weird feeling and I don’t want that, because I’m my own singular person. And I think I’m coming to accept that and, if anything, be excited about it.
That’s great. Two years later you made your first big screen debut with the sci-fi indie Prospect, co-staring with Pedro Pascal, and you received many positive reviews for your performance. Were you satisfied with the job you did, feeling like I’ve made it? Or were you already hungry for the next thing?
I didn’t know what was going to happen with it because it was an indie. When I watch myself, I always think acting is fine, because I work hard at it, but after watching that I remember it was like: okay, this is natural for me, I have to keep doing this. I went through a weird gap after that, of like a year and a half, where I wasn’t booking anything. I was filming three or four different self-tapes a week, in my basement with my mum. Getting in fights with her [laughs], because it’s hard doing self-tapes, it sometimes takes hours, and it was strenuous on our relationship. So that was a hard period, because people saw Prospect later on, when it went to streaming, which is just how it works. Then people liked it, critics liked it. Pedro is way bigger, so people were watching it because of Pedro. But yeah, that definitely fuelled me but then also created this pressure that I had such an amazing, incredible experience, and this is what I want to continue doing. It’s so hard to find experiences like that, because that experience was rare: having such a crazy family dynamic, working with Pedro who’s fantastic – I was very, very lucky. And I think in that low period I had, I realised that I got lucky and it’s very, very random. It is.
Then you moved to New York and took Meisner classes. Do you think that made you a better actress?
I think it gave me more confidence. It helped me focus on being present and took the focus away from myself so that I was less self-aware and more present and focused on the scene partner and present in the moment. It really gets yourself out of your body and into another character to focus on the reader or whoever is in front of you, or focus on an object or an activity. It helped loosen me up and gave me that confidence again.
What was your favourite thing to do in New York?
I was going to a lot of shows pre-Covid. I feel like that was a good time. I was underage, but everybody has a fake ID – I don’t know if I should say that [laughs]. It was so much more interesting going out. I mean I’m only 22 now, but it was so new to me going out in New York and seeing live bands, and then meeting the people in those bands that you’ve liked for years was crazy. And befriending a good group of musicians. It was nice to have that separate group outside of acting.
How does LA compare now in terms of how happy a city can make you feel?
It’s fun, I’m so on and off. This week I feel like, oh, I miss New York so much. I think I’m just really nostalgic for New York. And it was the beginning of a huge turning point in my life, so it stands as a very important part of my life, and always will be. I grew up always wanting to be in New York. But I’m here now in LA and it makes more sense for my career, and I have this beautiful house. It’s been so recent that I’m still trying to find grounding here – that group of people, the musicians and the friends. But I think LA is good for me right now, because I can tend to be very fast paced and very intense, and LA is kind of slowing me down a little bit. And then I can go to New York when I’m more chilled out.
You were born and raised in Chicago, then moved to New York and you’re now living in LA. All big cities. How’s your relationship with nature?
I love it. I mean I’m not the most outdoorsy person. I’m also incredibly pale and feel like a vampire sometimes, and choose not to burn because I’ve had some really bad burns in my life. But I love going on hikes out in nature. I’m really keen on just walking. And that was the nice thing about New York, if I ever had something stressing me out, I would just go for a walk. I can still do that here, I’m in Silver Lake, so it’s kind of perfect for that too. But, yeah, I’m the least athletic person. I’m going to Joshua Tree for the first time next week, which is very exciting.
Do you travel often for fun?
I’m trying to get better at that, but it’s been hard with press stuff. I really want to go to Japan, because my family lived there for a couple of years, my dad was a Mormon missionary in Japan, but I never got to go. I also want to go back to New York to say hi to some friends because it’s been a couple of months. I just want to travel everywhere.
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Full look FERRAGAMO.
What’s your favourite place in the world?
I was going to say New York, I’m just nostalgic and everybody’s going right now because it’s such a good time to be there. And Blonde Redhead, which is my favourite band, are playing at this venue I like called Baby’s All Right, so I might try to go there for that and see some friends.
In 2019, you landed the role of Natalie in Yellowjackets, which has become a hit series. The first season became the second most streamed series in Showtime’s history, we’re now enjoying the second season and it has been renewed for a third. After portraying a character for such a long time, I can imagine it’s not only you putting your soul into it, but also that character, Nat, as it evolves, leaving a mark in you. What from Nat is in you today?
I feel like I’ve gained some of her grit, some of her resilience. The first season was a lot for everybody, just because it was Covid, it was pretty emotionally strenuous. But playing Nat has hardened me a little bit, which is a good thing. I’ve always been like I can take a lot, I’ve been through some stuff. But I feel like Natalie has pushed me further, has made me stronger, to put it simply.
Now thinking of the other way around, which might be more obvious for you, but not for us as spectators. Could you share something that you feel like is very Sophie in Nat? What’s something that you add to the character that wasn’t on the script but is genuine about you?
It’s interesting, because in the pilot I tried to get Juliette’s voice down. Also, I move a lot, I’m very much a physical actor, so a lot of the mannerisms, and the way that I use my hands are so specifically me. And while I was in New York, I was spending a lot of time in New Jersey. I’m so perceptive to environments, so in the pilot there was a little bit of a Jersey or a New York think going that I tried to put in her, that it was in me to some extent, because it was how I was talking at the time, but I wanted to enhance it.
Natalie is obsessed with hunting, you’re obsessed with music. What was the last show you went to?
Avey Tare, last week. He was part of Animal Collective. My twin made a claymation video for one of his new songs. I’m still trying to figure out the venues here in LA and where to go to shows. But I’m starting to do that. It’s great. And it’s good to go out to shows in post-Covid world.
What is it about music that can change our mood so drastically?
It depends on the music, I think I’m just so vulnerable, sensitive and connected to it, that no matter the artist or the song, it’s some kind of inner monologue and way of representing how you feel that moment or how you felt at a specific time. It can feel like a stamp for a certain time and represent a person, a place, it can represent anything, and you can interpret it in any way. And that’s why it’s exciting. It can mean a lot or doesn’t have to [laughs], but I’m a very naturally nostalgic and sentimental person, so I can listen to a song, even one that I discovered a couple months ago, and it transports me back to wherever I discovered that song. Music transports you the fastest out of all the art forms in my opinion. For me, at least.
And you not only listen to music, but also released four albums via Bandcamp, which you temporarily removed from the site when Yellowjackets came out. Do you feel more confident now to continue sharing the music that you produce?
Yeah, I’ve been making music with my boyfriend and it sounds good. It’s DIY and kind of nonchalant, but it’s a shame to hide it. It’s not worth hiding. I think I need to not close myself off so much because some more people follow me. I need to be more open and trust my gut a little bit more, because it’s not that hard.
What does music give you versus acting?
They’re both releases, but of different kinds. Music feels more of an internal release and more personalised, whereas acting feels more of a physical, an instinctual release, and with an instant satisfaction. Same with music too, but in a different way. I think that music is a little bit more vulnerable, and can be more freeing, or sometimes not. I need both because they’re very different outlets and tap into different parts of my psyche.
Do you feel like a more complete artist now? And is there something else?
I draw, paint and make collages. I feel like that’s a pretty good representation of fulfilling whatever imaginary world I have in my head. Naturally, most actors are storytellers, and to be able to visually draw it out is very satisfying. My twin also makes art, so I was like that’s her thing, I’m going to let them do that. But I got back into it over Covid and it feels pleasing in the way that I can fulfil this fantasy world and make people literally see what I see.
Picasso famously said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” Where do you find inspiration?
Music. For making art, I’m always listening to something, and it depends on what I’m listening to. I find inspiration going to shows. It feels almost rare now, but – again post-Covid – seeing somebody live like Avey Tare, who I was admiring for so long, seeing how transformative he was on stage, being able to admire that in person and feeling that presence in the room was so powerful. I get inspired many times throughout the day by things depending on how present I am, or happy or depressed.
I like Julia’s Cameron approach in The Artist’s Way: setting up dates with yourself, your inner artist, and being constant in doing things that bring you joy to keep the creative flow. I’m curious, what are the things that bring Sophie Thatcher joy?
Nothing [laughs]. No, there’s so much: my boyfriend, my cat – I just got a cat two months ago, and she’s such a freak. I love, love dancing, and I don’t dance enough. I need to start doing that more on the weekends, because it’s such a release too, and I used to take it really seriously. Wine. Being with my family is mainly the most comforting. Whenever I’m going through anything or alone while filming a movie in a different state, I make sure to book a flight for a family member to come. And that’s an instant release of joy.
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Do you meditate?
Sadly, no. I feel like it would definitely benefit me, but I’ve tried a couple times and I got pretty panicked. I’m just a very naturally anxious person. I’ve been downplaying it my entire life, because I’m an actor. And I’m to some extent, not always acting, but you know. I would love to get into it. I had that Mindspace app, but I couldn’t do it with my phone.
You also mentioned before that you went to therapy, and that you need to get back. When was the last time that you went to therapy?
At the beginning of Covid, when everybody was confused. Everybody needed to be in therapy then. I think you can find it in your own way, let’s say by journaling. Music can also be a therapy, and I can even see acting as therapy too. You can find it in your own way. I don’t think it’s for everybody, but I definitely think that with my job it’s good to have a professional that I can run to without feeling like I’m burdening somebody.
Who are you when you are your most joyful self?
I think I can be very, very energetic, very animated, very enthusiastic and passionate. I think no matter what, I’m really passionate. But when I’m at my happiest self, I just am inspired by everything and passionate about everything, and open. That is something I’m always working on, being open to everything.
Both Yellowjackets and The Boogeyman, your latest project, have very dark stories. How do you leave the character on set, and disconnect from that story when you get home?
Again, music has been always the biggest release. I brought my twin over when I was filming The Boogeyman because I was like, this is a really hard week and I need somebody that I don’t have to have a filter around, that I don’t even have to say anything when she’s in the room, she can just be in the room and instantly bring me comfort. So that was really important. I’m pretty big with not watching anything too dark after filming something so dark and really trying to keep it light. Even during Yellowjackets we were watching a lot of Love is Blind and reality TV because it was so mindless, which is nice. It’s nice to not think about anything at all.
What are your self-care rituals? How does your me time look?
I do everything at this table [showing the desk from which she’s taking the Zoom call]. I make music. I write lyrics or poetry or whatever is on my mind. Reading. Watching BoJack Horseman – I watch a lot of BoJack, but I’m trying not to because I think I’ve seen every episode at least ten times now. I’m trying to find a new comfort show. Going on walks is a big thing for me. Getting outside is a thing I’m trying to get used to in LA, because why not, it’s beautiful here.
Any other guilty pleasures besides reality TV?
I’m like a fake gamer because it never lasts long. I grew up with a computer and was obsessed with Sims, like so obsessed. I would spend hours every day on it. I haven’t played Sims in a while, but I got my PS4 working and I’ll just game for a bit. It’s not like quote unquote a guilty pleasure [she says changing her voice], it’s just when I want to turn off my mind for a second. I just got the new Zelda game and I have that on my Nintendo Switch and it feels really light. It’s good, I like it.
Going back to Yellowjackets, Juliette Lewis portrays the older version of your character. How would you define your relationship and how has it evolved since you started working together on the first episodes?
I was really intimidated by her at first to be honest and I just wanted her to think I was cool. So badly. I remember that first time meeting her in the production office, I would lower my voice [she says lowering her voice] and I was so, not nervous, but really putting on a front. And now I feel like we can both be open and vulnerable with each other. There were only a couple days on set that we were able to share together, and she would just come on the trailer, and both of us will run and just be vulnerable and honest about what we’re feeling and what was going on. The entire time she has been a role model to me. Now it feels a little bit more equal and that’s empowering to me, because I’ve looked up to her for so long, so that gives me a lot of confidence.
Speaking about relationships, you come from a big Mormon family with a twin sister and endless cousins. Who do you call first when you have some great news to share?
If it’s work, probably my mum, because she’s very connected with my work and watches everything, she’s very supportive. If it’s not acting, definitely Ellie. Or no, it’s probably Austin, my boyfriend, who lives with me. But I wouldn’t call him, he would just be over there.
Who is someone that always makes you feel better?
Austin. He has that special power where he can just calm me down like that and put me in a really positive headspace with just a couple words. He grounds me a lot, and I’m very thankful for him, and I think he’s in the bathroom right now.
What is a day you’d love to go back and relive again?
That’s a good question. There’s this day, well it was kind of a week, like the third week of me and Austin dating. We went to this place called Ojai, like an hour outside of LA, which is very beautiful, very outdoorsy. I wouldn’t choose to redo it or anything, because honestly it was so perfect, and I’ve never been happier. Those were the happiest weeks with Austin. He met me just after finishing The Boogeyman, and that was a lot of work, but then I felt very happy about it, so I was like yes, I deserve this vacation. So it was that week that I was in Ojai and for once I wasn’t stressing out and was able to walk around in nature and be really in love.
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Dress and coat DION LEE, bra MIU MIU, boots ANNAKIKI.
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Full look THOM BROWNE.
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Dress ANNAKIKI, gloves GUCCI.