Whether you love or hate Sansa Stark on Game of Thrones, few people would disagree that Sophie Turner is one of the promising actors currently working in Hollywood. She came of age on the set of HBO’s blockbuster series and has since taken the step onto the big screen by playing Jean Grey in X-Men: Apocalypse and Dark Phoenix. Her life seems to be on the up with her recent marriage to Joe Jonas from the Jonas Brothers. But even her biggest fans on social media might be surprised about certain facets of her life. Here are 24 tough as nails facts about the woman who brought Sansa Stark to life, Sophie Turner.
1. Humble Beginnings
Sophie Turner may live the high life of a celebrity these days, but she boasts far humbler roots. She was born into a working-class family in Chesterton, Warwickshire, England, in 1996. Her mother was a nursery school teacher while her father worked for a company that distributed pallets to warehouses. Not exactly the most glamorous of occupations, but bills need to be paid.
Turner was well prepared for the mud and guck on the set of Game of Thrones, thanks to her childhood spent in the English countryside. “My childhood was pretty fun,” Turner said in a recent interview, adding that, “we had pigsties, barns, and a paddock, and used to muck around in the mud.” Knowing your way around some mud was certainly useful for House Stark.
3. Making the Grade
Still only a teenager when she landed the role of Sansa Stark on Game of Thrones, Sophie Turner needed to make sure she kept up with her homework while on set. She had a tutor that helped with her schoolwork in between takes, and it seems to have worked. When it came to her finals, Sophie managed five A grades. She did manage a few B grades as well—one of which was for drama!
4. Child Prodigy
Turner has seemingly always been interested in performance and the acting bug bit her at a young age. When she was only three years old, she joined the Playbox Theatre Company, a well-known children’s theater company that has had alumni land roles in productions of Avenue Q and episodes of the dystopian TV series Black Mirror. They can certainly add another success story to their ranks!
5. Jumping to the Big Screen
With major recognition for Game of Thrones under her belt, Sophie Turner made her big-screen debut in 2013 with the independent thriller Another Me, based on the novel by Catherine MacPhail. Turner appeared alongside a fairly noteworthy cast, including Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Claire Forlani, and Rhys Ifans. The film wasn’t a critical darling, nor was it the most successful in terms of box office draw, but everyone has to start somewhere!
6. Development Hell
One might be led to think that Sophie Turner landed her first feature film role in 2013’s Another Me based on her strong work as Sansa Stark on Game of Thrones, but you’d be wrong. Another Me went through a bit of a rough production cycle and took a long time to reach theaters. So long, in fact, that when Turner was chosen for the lead role the first season of Game of Thrones hadn’t even wrapped yet—and that season came out in 2011!
Turner wasn’t always sold on the idea of playing Jean Grey in the latest installments of the X-Men franchise. The whole casting process took months and was a rather frustrating experience for the up-and-coming star. But she was determined to land the role thanks mostly to her fans on Twitter. A survey of who should play the new Jean Grey that was going around social media overwhelmingly favored House Stark to take the throne.
8. Stiff Competition
Playing Jean Grey from the X-Men comics is always going to be a prized opportunity for actors. Who doesn’t want to be part of a superhero franchise, especially given how popular they have become in recent years? When Sophie Turner auditioned for X-Men: Apocalypse she went toe to toe with some of the biggest young stars in Hollywood.
Among those who were also considered for the part of Jean Grey were Elle Fanning, Hailee Steinfeld, Saoirse Ronan, and Margot Robbie.
9. My Idol
Sophie Turner knew that she had major shoes to fill when she was cast as Jean Grey in X-Men: Apocalypse. Famke Janssen made the role her own with a series of fierce performances. So, naturally, Sophie decided to learn from the best. In order to get herself ready for the role, Sophie watched all of the X-Men movies in the series and paid particular attention to the way that Janssen portrayed Jean Grey.
Turner tried to get the mannerisms just right so that her Jean would be a worthy successor—or, erm, is that predecessor? Time is a flat circle.
10. Strange Coincidences
Sophie Turner definitely studied up on how to take over for Famke Janssen when it came to the role of Jean Grey in the X-Men franchise. But little did they know that they already had a number of odd similarities. Both, for example, are not naturally redheads—Janssen is a brunette while Turner is blonde. The oddest similarity is probably the fact that both were exactly one inch taller than their love interest counterpart, Cyclops.
Tye Sheridan is 5’8” tall, while Sophie Turner is 5’9”; James Marsden is 5’10” tall, while Janssen is 5’11”. Sounds like fate!
11. Making the Right Connections
We’ve all heard stories about child actors who get into all the wrong crowds when they’re teenagers, yet Sophie Turner has shown that onset friendships can lead to some pretty great things. Take her friendship with Hailee Steinfeld, for example. The two met on the set of Barely Lethal (2015), a movie about teenage assassins.
The pair became close during the filming and it was Steinfeld who eventually introduced Sophie to pop star Joe Jonas, whom Turner went on to marry.
12. Getting Inked
Having played sisters Sansa and Arya Stark on Game of Thrones, Sophie Turner naturally became good friends with Maisie Williams on set. The pair even decided to get matching tattoos to mark their friendship and their time on the show. Both women have “07.08.09” tattoos, which represents the date that both of them received the news that they had been cast for the show.
13. MC Stark
Sworn enemies Joffrey Baratheon and Sansa Stark have a very, um, different kind of relationship off-camera. Sophie Turner and Jack Gleeson actually became very good friends while filming Game of Thrones and their favorite pastime was to rap together in between takes. It’s, well, embarrassing—but fun!
In an interview, Sophie Turner revealed the secret that got her the gig on Game of Thrones when she was auditioning. According to her own perspective, there was another actor who was better than she was for the part. But Sophie had an ace up her sleeve in the shape of social media. Producers knew she had more followers than the other actor, so the part went to Sophie. She certainly took her chance!
15. Life Imitates Bark
Direwolves might only really exist in Westeros, but Sophie Turner probably comes the closest to having one as a pet in real life. During the filming of Game of Thrones, Sophie fell in love with the Zunni, the Northern Inuit dog that was used to play Sansa Stark’s direwolf, known as Lady on the show. She loved the dog so much that she eventually adopted it for herself!
16. Slide into My Life
In this day and age of social media, even the stars look to platforms such as Instagram to quench their thirst for conversation. That’s exactly how Sophie Turner met her future husband, Joe Jonas. The two had several mutual friends in common, and so one night the middle Jonas brother decided to slide into Sophie’s DMs for a chat.
The two hit it off and the rest, as they say, is history.
Rumors that Sophie Turner and Joe Jonas were in a relationship had been circulating for months leading up to the first public appearance of the couple. They went to a Kings of Leon concert together in the fall of 2016 in the Dutch city of Rotterdam.
18. All the Trimmings
Besides Zunni the “dire wolf,” Sophie Turner adopted another dog with her husband Joe Jonas who, one might say, is far from a “Lady.” Porky Basquiat is the name of the couple’s second dog and is fast becoming his own star on Instagram with hundreds of thousands of followers already. The name apparently combines two things that Sophie loves: sausages and expressionist painter Jean-Michel Basquiat. Nothing like a bit of variety!
19. Doing Justice
With her own struggles with mental health in recent years, Sophie Turner wanted to make sure that she did justice to her character Jean Grey in Dark Phoenix, the latest and last of the X-Men movie franchise. In the movie, Jean Grey has to deal with the toll of her newfound powers and the possible, dark consequences of their effects.
To prepare for the internal struggle of her character, Sophie studied mental health before production began on the film.
20. What a Drain
With all the danger that comes from being a member of House Stark on Game of Thrones, a show famous for brutally and unexpectedly killing off characters left, right, and center, Sophie Turner has a rather different fear: drains. In interviews, she has mentioned the fact that she has a phobia of walking over drains in the street, as she is afraid of both the possibility that the covers could break, and what lies beneath.
Apparently, she says the word “onions” whenever she has to step over a grate to “reverse the curse.” Hey, whatever works!
21. Lost in Time
Sophie Turner was supposed to have a twin sister. Her mother Sally was pregnant with twins, but Sophie’s sibling sadly died before birth. She does have two surviving siblings in the form of older brothers. She has since mentioned in interviews that this fact has drawn her to films about doppelgangers, such as Another Me, her first feature film.
22. You’re Me!
Famke Janssen was pretty pleased with the choice of Sophie Turner for the actor who would take over her iconic X-Men character Jean Grey. But Famke wasn’t entirely pleased with the studios. She tried to ask director Brian Singer, as well as the producers, to let her have a cameo appearance alongside Sophie in X-Men: Apocalypse.
Two Jeans for the price of one! Unfortunately, the producers didn’t quite see it that way, and Janssen has since voiced her disappointment.
23. Tough Crowd
The last season of Game of Thrones was not universally well-received by fans or critics, to say the least. But with Twitter amplifying any and everyone’s opinion, things can get rough, especially for younger actors not used to the limelight. Sophie Turner found the negative criticism particularly difficult and revealed in the spring of 2019 that she would be taking a break from acting.
She revealed that the criticism that led to a major onset of depression and that she had even considered self-harm. She’s taking time off to focus on her own well-being.
24. What Happens in Vegas
Fans and the gossip columns were equally in shock when it was announced in spring 2019 that Sophie Turner and her long-time boyfriend, Joe Jonas of the Jonas Brothers, had gotten hitched. The marriage was with little fanfare; the two had a surprise ceremony while on a trip to Vegas. They were registered at the Little White Wedding Chapel.
But this was no Friends scenario—the pair planned for a more elaborate ceremony later in the year.