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Sophie Turner on Defending Sansa Stark and Her Surprising Dream Role

7 minute read

Last weekend wasn’t Sophie Turner’s first San Diego Comic-Con outing, but it was the first convention where she was embraced as part of two popular series. Best known for playing put-upon Sansa Stark on Game of Thrones, Turner has also inherited the popular role of Jean Grey in the new X-Men movie, due out in May of next year. It was a nice change for the actor, who told TIME she has spent much of the last five years defending her character.

TIME caught up with Turner at Comic-Con to talk about whether Sansa can trust Littlefinger, rumors that Taylor Swift was joining X-Men: Apocalypse and her dream of starring in a Judd Apatow film.

TIME: At the end of last season, Sansa and Theon finally made their escape by jumping off a wall of Winterfell. You were at the Comic-Con panel this year, so I’m assuming they survived that fall.

Sophie Turner: It’s difficult to say. I haven’t even gotten the scripts to tell me whether or not they did. But it could just be another Hodor case. I could just turn into Bran and ride on someone’s back for awhile. I mean, listen, in Game of Thrones nothing is impossible.

If you did have to recruit a character whose back you could ride on for the rest of the series who would it be?

I’d just ride the dragons, I reckon. I think that’s a good one because they can protect me pretty well too.

Throughout all five seasons of the show, you’ve been placed in this position of defending Sansa—whether it was in season one when she didn’t do enough to save Lady or even this weekend when you had to address at the Game of Thrones panel why Sansa didn’t fight back against Ramsey. Why do you think people have questioned your character more than others on the show?

I think people really, really respond to characters that are very strong willed and strong minded and have very strong opinions about things, and I think Sansa keeps everything so under wraps in order for her to survive. I think people often question her motives because she doesn’t do everything on the surface, and she doesn’t really show what she’s feeling. She kind of does her plotting within her head rather than outwardly doing. At the moment, she’s with the Boltons, and they’re very dangerous people. She can’t be plotting against them blatantly. Also, she takes her time with things. She doesn’t fight back immediately, but she’ll get her revenge one day I think.

When you first took the role did you expect to have to defend her?

When I took the role, personally, I didn’t see anything wrong with her. I think when you sign on to a role like Sansa, you have her back 100%, and I didn’t even realize there would be any controversy around her. But it turns out, people aren’t her biggest fan. So I’ve had to find myself defending her and defending her over and over again.

But now with season five come out and everything, her actions speak louder than her words, I think. There was nothing she could do all of season five. So I think people are starting to feel a little more sympathetic towards her I hope.

Littlefinger got her into this situation. Do you think she can trust him after this?

I think Littlefinger really cares about Sansa. He either really had no idea what the Boltons were like—though he’s Littlefinger, so I’m presuming he did know­—or he has a reason behind it. He wouldn’t just dump Sansa at Winterfell with these people who killed her family for nothing. I think he probably knows exactly what he’s doing. It’s a cruel thing to do, but I think he has reasons behind it.

You are also about to be a part of another giant franchise, playing Jean Grey in the X-Men. How has that experience been different from Game of Thrones?

As an actress, it’s been amazing to play a superhero that people look up to so much and that people really love. To be a fan favorite is also very new to me. I’ve been enjoying that a lot. It’s nice to just kick ass. I have a lot of pent up anger that I’ve been needing to release.

There’s been a lot of discussion at Comic-Con about the dearth of female superheroes. But X-Men has this long history of strong female characters, and people particularly love Jean. Why do you think she’s so popular among both men and women?

I think it’s probably the fact that especially in the comics, Jean is a very vulnerable young girl, a lot like Sansa. Jean, the young, very vulnerable girl terrified of her powers doesn’t really know what to do with herself. She’s terrified of hurting others, and that kind of isolates her.

But she finds herself. Especially in the first three movies, people kind of see this woman who’s one of the most powerful mutants, and yet you read in the comics that she is this terrified young girl, and it’s so nice to be able to see someone able to overcome their fears. I think that’s why she’s such a fan favorite.

Simon Kinburg tweeted a photo of you James McAvoy and Taylor Swift. Any hints as to what she was doing hanging around the X-Men team?

Actually, that was just us going to her concert and then meeting her. I think people are thinking she’s going to be in X-Men, but you never know. Could be.

What kind of power do you think she would have if she were in X-Men?

She would probably have this feminist power because she’s such a feminist herself. She would probably be the leader of the girl group, the girl pack. And we’d all be her squad.

You and Taylor Swift and a few others are among this generation of young female performers who are getting the chance to play these superheroes and talk about issues like feminism and influence young fans in that way. I hope young girls aren’t watching Game of Thrones, but when you’re choosing roles, how much do you think about being a role model?

That’s a difficult question because the main reason I’m doing it is because I love the roles and just want to act, and I never really think about I want to do this because I want to be a role model—that’s not my intention. I’ll take roles if they’re well-written.

As an actress, I think you have to be a role model because you’re in the public eye—me as a person, I suppose. But if I wanted to play a drug addict I would. I think as long as the script is good, and it’s not an un-feminist script or anything that could really damage young people if they watch it, I’ll take it.

Is there any genre that you really want to do that you haven’t yet?

I want to do a Judd Apatow comedy, but I can’t improvise and don’t think I’m that funny. So I’m not sure how that would work out. But I really like his movies. That would probably be my biggest challenge: to do comedy. I would really like to do that.

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Write to Eliana Dockterman at eliana.dockterman@time.com