Interview: Sophie ThatcherOctober 30, 2018
Recently we had the chance to talk with Sophie Thatcher, the young star of the sci-fi/western movie Prospect, which recently screened at the 2018 Toronto After Dark Film Festival.
Was acting something you always wanted to do or did you discover it later on, like a happy accident?
Sophie: I’ve been acting since I was four years old and I’ve always been a singer, I’ve been singing since I could talk. When I was a kid I had this dream of being this big Broadway star and committing myself to musical theater, and I went to Performing Arts School for musical theater. However, as I had more on-camera experience I realized that I like the on-camera world more because of the naturalistic style of acting. I still make music and I want to be an actor making music on the side, that would be my ultimate goal.
It is incredible how many actors I talk to that have a background in both acting and music. Do you think the two of them are tied together in some way?
Sophie: Yeah, I think they definitely are. Just being an artist and wanting to perform for people and telling a story, that’s what I want to put out into the world and to have people resonate with it.
You’ve done some work in television and now movies. Do you have a favorite medium to work in or do you like them both equally?
Sophie: I’ve done a couple episodes of television here and there but I’ve never been committed to a series as a regular. That would be great though, having a consistent paycheck and especially since TV is developing so much nowadays, with Amazon and Netflix and they are almost picking the independent film route, where there’s more freedom with the storylines and branching out by casting different kinds of people, so that would be a dream, to be a series regular. I definitely would like to stick to the independent films, I’m not very attracted to the blockbuster movies.
Why do you have no interest in working in blockbuster movies?
Sophie: The big movies, the Marvel movies, I think it’s more about the money and I’m not interested in the big money, I ‘m interested in the art. I always want it to be a passion project with everyone on set and that’s what I want to stick close to.
How did you come to land the role of Cee in the movie Prospect?
Sophie: My agent and my manager sent me the script and I taped it at home, most auditions are self-taped. I live in Chicago and they are based in Seattle so I got a call back and I filmed at home again and they liked me so they flew me out to Seattle and I met with Zeek and Chris and I just remember just immediately trusting them with the project, I had this great feeling that the project was going to be special.
What was your first day on set like?
Sophie: We were working in the freighter, this was with Jay, I had just met him, and I was a little bit intimidated because my sister, she also makes indie films and Jay Duplass is like the king of indie films, so she was talking about him so much beforehand and that intimidated me. However, he has this warm energy and immediately made everyone so comfortable. I didn’t have any lines the first day and I remember that’s what I was most nervous about, being able to memorize them and say them naturally, it was mainly just going through the process of action in the freighter. I just remember being relieved and exhausted that first day, but you get used to it, you get used to the long days.
Did you feel a lot of pressure playing Cee, seeing how her character carries a lot of the story throughout the film?
Sophie: Oh yes, definitely. Thankfully Zee and Chris trusted me with the character and that allowed me to have more confidence and freedom. I had no idea what to expect coming into that experience, being my first feature film, but it helped that other people on the set were on the same page as me. One of the most difficult parts for me was being able to carry a scene with no lines and just with my eyes, because much of the film surrounds Cee just reacting to her surroundings and I didn’t know how I’d keep the audience engaged but the directors and the crew helped make my job easier with that.
Prospect is a very ambitious sci-fi/western story but there’s a very human element to it, with the father/daughter relationship at the core. As an actor, did you find that part of the story easy or more complicated?
Sophie: I definitely think it was more complicated. She had a very complicated relationship with her dad, him being a drug addict and hiding everything that was going on from her in their line of work because it’s a very dangerous line of work and he’s trying to shelter her from that. Yeah, there are some very complicated character dynamics going on, especially between her and Ezra. Their relationship is really the most interesting relationship in the film, as they become close and she opens up to him. I really love the scene where she opened up about the fan-fiction, I know she never opened up to her father about that, that was a big moment for her, I love that scene.
Speaking of Ezra, he is definitely a different personality to deal with as opposed to your father. What was it like going back and forth, dealing with those two relationships?
Sophie: It was filmed in a pretty linear way so I started out with Jay, and I thought that was perfect because he helped everyone out, he had such good energy and then Pedro entered the scene and he brought a different energy. He has this great ability to flip a switch, he could be laughing and making everyone feel comfortable and then immediately transforms into his character and watching that process was pretty inspiring to me, especially being a classically trained actor, he was very generous and easy to work with as a screen partner.
At the end of the day, how would you describe your experience of making Prospect?
Sophie: It was a really incredible experience and I couldn’t have asked for better first experience in a feature film. I remember leaving the set and feeling confident, more confident than I had in myself going in, just because of this character’s arc and how she blossomed into a strong, powerful woman. I remember feeling that way and going back to school feeling that way and I thought that part was really natural.
What kind of advice would you have for young women who want to get into the acting business?
Sophie: I would say start with community theater, school plays, any experience and I think it’s important to note that a lot of people are making their own films nowadays, that’s how Jay and his brother started. I think it’s important to be constantly creating, creating your own stuff and that’s what I would like to do, make my own films someday. I believe that’s the direction independent film is going, with people taking on different jobs.
So what other projects do you have coming up?
Sophie: I have a couple of projects in the air but they haven’t been cast or anything so I’m not allowed to speak about them! (Laughs) Now that I’m eighteen it really helps because I’m allowed to work longer hours. When I was under eighteen I needed a tutor on set, which is extra money for the project and having someone constantly at your side. They were pretty good about that on Prospect, they allowed me my freedom, and I was finishing my finals the first week of Prospect so that was really intense. Somehow I balanced it, everyone was really supportive and understanding, wanting me to do great in regards to my schoolwork so I could focus solely on the film.
I want to thank Sophie for taking the time to talk with us
Prospect is the first feature film from Gunpowder & Sky’s sci-fi label, DUST