Interview: Sophie Skelton

From the interview archives.

Sophie Skelton was scouted by an agent at only 15 years old and she quickly began turning heads worldwide when she joined the cast of Outlander as the fiery Brianna. We reached out to Sophie to talk about her character’s development as we enter the new season of Outlander and to probe her for some info on her upcoming zombie-breakout film Day of the Dead: Bloodline and the incredible World War 2 based true story of Louisa Gold in Another Mother’s Son

You signed on as Bree in Outlander last season, did you get a warm welcome from the cast?

Absolutely. I had already met Caitriona in my screen test and, straight away, she and I got on so well which was great. She is absolutely as blooming incredible off screen as she is on. She and Sam are little pranksters on set and they gave Richard and I such a warm welcome. As did the whole crew, it’s a really tight-knit family and we were welcomed with open arms. Despite the fact we only rocked up for the final few weeks to film the finale all fresh-faced and eager and they’d had months of relentless mud and rain! They could have chucked us in a mud puddle to give us a proper Outlander initiation but they spared us that!

Had you read the novels by Diana Gabaldon prior to auditioning, and do you have a  favourite in the series?

I hadn’t prior to auditioning but as soon as the audition came through I did. There’s a reason they’re international bestsellers and that people still love them so much 20 years on – they’re all so beautifully written but my favourite is definitely ‘Drums of Autumn’ which is the fourth book and the one that we are about to shoot. I read them with Bree in mind so maybe I’m a little biassed! She has such an incredible and heavy story in 4 and really comes into her own but even with Bree aside, the book is a great novel.

Bree is obviously apprehensive about the whole idea of time travelling until she sees it with her own eyes. If you were to witness it yourself, would you be excited or creeped out?

I think I’d be excited. I’m not easily creeped out and I’m a pretty adventurous person so it’s more likely that I’d be the one running head first into the stones next out of curiosity! 

Where do you think Roger’s head is at in all of this? Is he just swept up by the events?

From the beginning Roger was less sceptical about the reality of time-travel than Bree was and I think, for him, there was almost an element of hope that time travel did exist. He’s a historian and I think his world would open up a little if it did. It’s a whole new layer of history whereas Bree is more logistically minded. More ‘see it to believe it’. He definitely gets swept up in the events – it becomes an exciting challenge/adventure for him trying to find Jamie using history books and records to track his whereabouts. I think there is also an element of hope in him that there’s a parallel between finding Jamie and gaining Brianna’s affection. He’s always trying to impress Bree but also dead set on protecting her too and this information regarding Jamie would help Brianna come to terms with her Mother’s distance throughout her life. As much as he loves the distraction and the adventure of it all, Roger really does just want to help.

Can you tell us a little about the film Another Mother’s Son?

The film is based on the real life memoirs of a woman called Louisa Gould. It was actually written by her granddaughter and is one of the most incredible stories I’ve read. It’s set on the Nazi-occupied island of Jersey during the Second World War. Louisa lost her son in the war and took in a Russian Prisoner of War and hid him in her house for years feeding him from her rations and teaching him English. The residents were waiting for troops to be sent over in aid by Churchill but they didn’t arrive in time.

How does Jess fit into the story; is she based off a real person as well?

Jess is actually the one fictional lead character in the film. She was added into the story to create even more suspense and ‘who did it’ mystery element. In the script Jess is the one responsible for writing the incriminating letter which sent Louisa to jail. Jess is an interesting character because she is a young naive girl who falls in love with a German soldier but ends up turning on her own people out of pure fear. It was never actually proven who did write the letter back in the 40s, it’s merely still a hunch.

What was the most inspiring thing you learned about Louisa Gould?

The raw bravery of her. It’s so easy to sit here now and objectively say we would all do what she did, especially if a mother and especially if we had lost a child in the war like she had, but it’s an entirely different story when you have Nazi’s literally knocking on your door and searching your house as and when they please, roaming the streets and not knowing who you can and can’t trust anymore. The fact that Louisa took in a prisoner of war in spite of all of that was sensational. She painted a target on her own head, in her own home, for the sake of a stranger. She was a soldier in her own way.

Day of the Dead: Bloodline is another film you have coming out soon, about trying to survive a world overrun by zombies. What would be your go-to plan should we have a zombie outbreak?

I’d like to think I’d be a lot like Zoe. I’d definitely grab for the gun but I would try to find a long term cure too to avoid having to hide away. I am a bit of a Biochem geek too so I’d love the task of inventing the vaccine. It’s a pretty unique illness and working on live ‘rotter’ patients certainly wouldn’t get dull!

What situation do you think you’d have an easier time with, being in Louisa Gould’s shoes, or being Zoe Parker?

Oh wow, that’s a good question. Hmm I think it’s be easier to be Zoe. She has guns and a protective compound and people around her whom she trusts. In Jersey during the war the fear was making people turn on each other. People couldn’t trust their neighbours and even family members were so afraid that they would grass on each other without fully considering the repercussions of it. People kick into an entirely different primal animalistic mode when it comes to survival. I think that’s far more horrifying a reality than dealing with something you know is out to get you (aka zombies). Far easier to be fighting forward than be stabbed in the back. Better the devil you know and all that…

You’re currently raising money and awareness for Crohn’s and Colitis U.K – why is this an important charity to you?

It’s not a disease which is discussed as widely as it should be. Unfortunately, despite the tireless work from charities such as Crohn’s and Colitis UK there isn’t a lot of awareness or research out there and as such it is sometimes belittled. But what isn’t widely acknowledged is that it’s also an autoimmune disease and sadly can often lead to cancer in various forms and in some cases, patients will end up using a colostomy bag. In this day and age no one in such a vulnerable position should have to feel embarrassed or misunderstood. I have a family member with the disease and it changed their life so I want to do everything I can to help them and many others. Hopefully by opening up discussions about the disease we can raise awareness and eventually prevent anyone from having to continue suffering in silence.

Anything else you’d like to mention that you have on the horizon?

I just wrapped on another film called ‘#211‘ based on the North Hollywood bank shootout of ’97. I play Lisa who is the daughter of Nicolas Cage’s character and the wife of his cop-partner. She finds out she and her husband are finally pregnant at the beginning of the movie and then as the day unfolds and their lives are turned upside down. There seems to be a trend forming – my characters certainly never have an easy path!

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