Sophie was interviewed by 1883 magazine to talk about ‘Outlander’, acting and much more. Make sure to check our gallery for the beautiful new photoshoot!
Studio Photoshoots > Outtakes & Sessions > Session 004
1883 – Since bursting onto our screens, Outlander has not only won a BAFTA but has also been nominated for an Emmy and an Oscar. It is due back on Amazon Prime Instant Video with Season 3 on September 10th and this week we were privileged to have a chat with one of its leading ladies.
But before there was Outlander, Sophie Skelton has had phenomenal success from very early on with roles in the sofa classics such as BBC’s Casualty to the lead role in action adventure miniseries, Ren (which gained her a best actress nomination!). It is this versatility that keeps audiences guessing what her next role could possibly be, and we didn’t miss this opportunity to discuss all of her upcoming projects.
Looking at all you have achieved this early on into your career it is impressive to say the least, what would be your highlight so far?
Well, firstly… thank you! I’ve been auditioning since I was 15 and working since I was 17 so it doesn’t feel so early on to me so it’s always wonderful when someone says how far you’ve come and you step back and think ’oh, the hard work is paying off.’ I would honestly say that my highlight this far has been Comic Con. It was just such a different experience for me. I’m so at home being on set but Comic Con was a new and entirely different experience and it’s so wonderful when you can meet the fans who make it all possible and give a little back. Outlander fans are so loyal and passionate and it was great to see how those days, weeks and months on set pay off and experience the affect that the show has on people. It really moves people and it’s a very powerful and humbling feeling to be in the midst of that. That Comic Con experience will be with me forever.
How did you get into acting, is it something you always wanted to do?
It was always something I wanted to do. I was a ballet dancer from the age of three and I started from there in musical theatre. I love the rush of being on stage and there is nothing like a live audience but I really craved for the discretion of screen. The camera doesn’t lie so you can’t either and there’s a beautiful insecurity that you have to allow on screen, on stage everything has to be a lot bigger.
Do you have any advice for any aspiring actors?
There are so many different routes into the industry. Mine was quite unorthodox so I suppose I’d just say; if you really love it and you can’t see yourself doing anything else then keep trying, push through the rejection and, whatever the route, the hard work will get you there.
Do you have a dream role you would like to play in the future? Who would your ideal cast comprise of?
I would love to play someone like Natalie Portman’s character in Black Swan. Such a dark and complex character combined with the ballet element. It would be wonderful to entwine where I started and where I am now in terms of careers. Also, I’m an absolute geek for superheroes so something along those lines with stunts and wires and those physical aspects would be incredible. Playing real people is always appealing to me too because there is so much material to work with – copying their mannerisms and vocal nuances and telling their raw and true story. There’s an invigorating responsibility and pressure that comes with that and I think that would be a really exciting challenge. I’m never one for taking the low-pressure, easy route! I’m up for trying anything and everything in terms of characters and genres at all points of the spectrum. I like to do lots of different accents too so, provided the script is something I find moving and exciting, whatever is thrown at me I’d be more than willing to try.
If you had three golden rules you follow to attribute your success down to, what would they be?
I’m a bit of a perfectionist but that doesn’t work for everyone, I know people who don’t read a script and still get the job but for me I am always 100% prepared. So that’s golden rule number one for me. I’d say; have a thick skin – there is a lot of rejection and it’s not always personal – but at the same time; still allow yourself to feel because that’s what you can use in your work. Mainly, always be prepared – so much of the job is down to the work you do before you get onto set. Things will inevitably change when you get there so you have to be malleable but… prep, prep, prep.
You recently finished filming #211 alongside Nicolas Cage, what has it been like working alongside such a household name?
He was such a lovely man – great guy and great to do scenes with. It’s always wonderful to learn from more seasoned and experienced actors than yourself and to have those opportunities on set, seeing how other actors work differently from each other first-hand is fantastic. In terms of ’household name’ though, you sort of have to forget that and not let that intimidate or you’ll probably start fumbling lines and messing things up and no-one will thank you for that! Nick was great in that respect, very down to earth. At the end of the day, when it comes to being on set, everyone is simply colleagues and he was very much in that mindset which created a lovely work atmosphere. I really enjoyed doing scenes with Nick. Just a really natural and seamless actor, very professional and very calm, collected and cool.
Outlander season 3 will be released on September 10th and has already had two majorly successful seasons; what can we expect from Brianna?
We see start to see more layers of Brianna this season. When we first met her at the end of Season 2, we saw a very stubborn, hurt girl who had a lot of bitterness toward her twenty-year-long taught relationship with her mother and the fresh pain of her father’s death (to whom she was extremely close). She’s very held and guarded but in Season 3 we start to see some of those barriers come down and she becomes less stoic. We see her excited about the prospect of finding Jamie but also undergoing an inner turmoil at the prospect of losing Claire should they find him. She is also struggling with trying to decipher which parts of her are Randall and which are Fraser in light of this new information about her parentage and this all proves a really difficult time for Bree. A more vulnerable side of Bree emerges in season three and we also start to see her mature as she becomes a young woman and, in some scenes, almost the mother figure to Claire. There’s a beautiful mother-daughter dynamic forming between the two of them as that wedge between them starts to subside. Irony kicks in though and, just as they’re brought closer together, it’s time for Claire to go back to the past. Brianna essentially becomes an orphan and has to start to live her life without her parents for the first time.
If you had to choose to live in the 18th Century or the 20th Century forever which one would you choose and why?
Oooh. I don’t think I could go back to a time without cinema. One of my favourite things to do is to go to the movies, surrounded by the dark and the quiet and get lost in a film. So, I’d have to say 20th Century! That said, I’d love to go back to the 18th Century and destroy all corsets – save those poor women some (…I was going to say heart-ache but, frankly…) rib-ache! There are lots of corsets for me in Season 4.
Season 3 hasn’t been released yet but fans are eager for a little snippet of information about Season 4, is there any hint of gossip you can tell us?
Fortunately for us we always have the books to fall back on so we can’t really be in too much trouble for giving away spoilers! So, yes, I can tell you! For Brianna we see her grow into a woman and she undergoes some very harrowing sexual encounters and we also see her reunite with Claire. She also may or may not meet a certain other Fraser…
Congratulations on landing the lead role in Day of the Dead, this is very different to Outlander, what decision process took place before you accepted this role in particular?
Thank you! Yes, very different. Firstly, we filmed in Bulgaria in the summer so no relentless rain or mud! So nothing like Outlander! This role was a really interesting one to take because George Romero really was the father of all zombie horror movies. He kicked off the whole Day, Dawn, Night of the dead that lead to the genre being so popular and even into today paved the way for shows like The Walking Dead which keeps the zombie genre so popular. It’s not often you get to be a part of such a cult legacy like that. Zoe is also essentially like playing two characters in one. She is the lead of the movie and starts of as a meek med student who ends up becoming a badass Lara Croft type post-apocalypse and post losing everyone she loves. It was a great opportunity to be able to play a character over a span of years with haunts of her past still evident in her personality but also having been essentially forced by the state of the world to blossom into a more confident action-taking woman who has learnt to stand up for herself. It’s also such a smart take on the original which made for a really unique remake. It’s still gory and blooming scary! but there is a psychological twist to the story now which gives such an intriguing spin on it. That was something I didn’t want to turn down. Little did we know this would be the last of George’s legacy so I hope we have done him proud.
Do you have any funny stories to tell us from your time filming this?
Well, we were all speaking different languages which was a bit of a comedy sketch at times as it made for some interesting lost-in-translation moments! Our director was Spanish, the crew were Bulgarian and the actors were largely American/English so plenty of miscommunication to go around! Thankfully we had a great translator on set.
How do you prepare for upcoming roles, what’s your routine?
I always simply start with the script. Often I’ll read my character’s bits first and then I’ll go back and read the whole thing. Then I find as much material as is out there as I can – Whether it’s watching the old versions of something or reading books, researching or, as I did for Outlander, immersing myself in the characters of Jamie and Claire as well as Brianna to incorporate aspects of their personalities and traits into Bree.
Many actors talk about the challenges they face in being typecast, the roles you have played so far are quite different from each other, is this a conscious decision?
Yeah, the whole reason I love this job is having the license to delve into the minds of completely different people. I love doing different accents and different characters, different stories and different looks. For example, I have played three very strong women in the past year but that strength manifests in completely different ways in each of them. For me, the wider the range the better. That’s definitely something I aspire to.
Which of the characters you have played do you identify with the most?
Probably Brianna. She can be very hot-headed but she is very calculated and logical too. She is also very loyal. She definitely does do things that I wouldn’t do or says things that I wouldn’t say and that I wouldn’t agree with but once you’re in someone’s head, those things become justified because you’re feeling exactly what they’re going through. She also loves the hard, fast answers of arithmetic and I’m the same in that way. She finds strength in the fact that two plus two will always equal four. Similarly, with Zoe from DOTD, she can hold a gun and hold her own but she also finds a logical solution to the Zombie outbreak in a virus form too. Badass women but still geeks at heart!
You lead an incredibly busy life but when you aren’t acting, what do you like to do in your spare time?
I still keep up with ballet and singing and tap and all my dancing. I like to keep those skills well-oiled should I ever need them! I like to read and cook too and when I’m back home to take long walks in the country.
2017 has been a whirlwind for you, what else is next for you?
For now, more Outlander! We start shooting Season 4 soon and it’s a heavy one so I’ll be doing that for a good while. For the time being, I’ll be living and breathing Brianna!