Our SS19 coverstars get candid.
Yass Queens! Sophie Turner and Maisie Williams became megawatt stars as the slaying Stark Sisters in Game of Thrones. Here, in their first-ever joint cover shoot, they let us in on the friendship and the fierce attitude that will take them beyond Westeros. Words By: Josh Smith
“People always think Maisie and I are a couple. I mean,
I am obsessed with her, so you never know,” Sophie Turner deadpans about her Game Of Thrones on-screen sister. “She’s my drug. I’ve got an addiction to Maisie Williams. I actually stalk her hashtag on Instagram!”
When the two actors are united on GLAMOUR’s shoot there are squeals, huge hugs and even – to prove the above point – a bit of dry-humping. The on-set vibe? A sticky floor away from a Saturday night out OUT.
Anyone who might suggest their chemistry isn’t real off-screen would likely be met with the full ‘Stark sister’ wrath; an electrifying on-screen pairing that has helped turn Game Of Thrones (GOT) into the biggest TV show in the world, with a global audience of millions. Yet the world of ‘Mophie’ (as fans have dubbed them), is as free from Hollywood artifice as you could wish for.
Maisie, 21, and Sophie, 23, met aged 12 and 13 respectively during the audition process for GOT, back in 2009. Practically love at first sight, email addresses were exchanged and, “Honestly, we’ve been best friends ever since,” says Sophie. Following many raucous nights in and out (more on that later), their constant stream of text messages to one another, and the matching ‘07.08.09’ tattoos on their forearms (the date they landed their roles), these two – in true GOT fashion – have pledged allegiance to each other for life.
“Put us in the same room and we pick up where we left off,” adds Maisie. “We’ve always been really open with each other. As you get older, the stakes are higher, the problems get worse – so it’s built into a lifelong friendship. Sophie knows too much about me to not be my friend.”
Now, as the eighth and final Game Of Thrones series hits our screens, we’ve united our favourite TV sisters to reveal their zero-filter, no-BS life lessons that we can all relate to, from mental health to men. Yes, this is the Mophie Manifesto.
Sisters In Arms
Pushing her vegan meal around a takeaway box with her fork as they both take a break from shooting, Maisie serves a refreshing dish of disclosure. “I can’t tell you the amount of times Sophie said, ‘Go to therapy,’ before I actually did. She really helped me through some messy break-ups and some friend break-ups. Whenever I’m like, ‘I need help! This is bigger than anything I can sort out on my own,’ Sophie is my point of call. I think therapy is so important. You should absolutely speak to someone, even if in your head you go, ‘Yeah, I knew that!’”
Sophie agrees, “We’ve helped each other through a lot of mental-health problems, especially around body image. She’s been my crutch in that, and I’ve been hers because it seems everything she goes through, I go through. You know when girls are together a long time, their periods sync up? It’s like our emotions and personalities sync up, too.”
While many high-profile actors may balk at being open about their mental health so early in their careers, both Maisie and Sophie feel passionately about sharing their struggles. With a combined social-media following of 20 million and counting, they’re fully aware of how their position enables them to help others. “I’ve gone through some lows in my life and I want to come out of them in a positive way and help people,” says Sophie. “I actually have a really big problem with not being able to stand up for myself,” she adds. “Especially if I’m arguing against a man. Jessica Chastain [who Sophie worked with on new X-Men film Dark Phoenix] is the one that said it to me, ‘You need to stand up for yourself more!’” She’s referring to the time when an actor she worked with “walked off set” when it was time for her to say her lines, and a writer stood in for him. “She [Jessica] said, ‘Just go and talk to him, go and say something to him!’ I’m a bit of a shy, pushover person, but I’m getting there, I’m working on it.”
The work is paying off: in January this year, she went into battle on Twitter with Piers Morgan after he said celebrities were making mental-health problems ‘fashionable’. Sophie blasted back: “Or maybe they have a platform to speak out about it and help get rid of the stigma of mental illness, which affects one in four people in the UK per year. But please go ahead and shun them back into silence. Twat.” Don’t mess with a Stark.
Sharing The Throne
While they seem incredibly in tune with their bodies on GLAMOUR’s set, like anyone constructing an identity in our social-media age, the topic of body image has been part of their lives since GOT first drew swords in 2011. How has playing tomboy Arya Stark – who is largely devoid of sexuality – during her formative teenage years affected the way Maisie perceives herself? “I’ve never felt very pretty because I’ve never been portrayed as very pretty on screen. I actually think that’s really great, but in terms of how I personally feel, it’s been difficult sometimes,” she says.
But being on set with women of all ages, shapes and sizes, from Emilia Clarke and Lena Headey to 6ft 3in Gwendoline Christie – has helped both actors. “I’ve met incredible women who all look very different. They all had really positive messages for us,” adds Maisie. “But I don’t know that you can ever really get away from the intense pressure of body image when you’re an actor. It was something I never cared about. I never thought I was fat until I became an actor – and I’m not fat! I don’t know any young woman that I’ve spoken to in this industry who hasn’t struggled one way or another with their appearance. I just think it’s very hard to escape.”
Building a positive body image is something Maisie has struggled with outside the bubble of GOT’s seven kingdoms, “Especially when you get down to the final three for a role. You can all be really talented, but ultimately it comes down to the way you look. It’s hard not to obsess over that. I try to nip it in the bud because it’s self-destructive.”
These doubts have also, in turn, sadly affected Sophie. “When I first started out acting, I thought, ‘Arghhh, I’m going to have to be really skinny for the rest of my life,’ and I’m not naturally that kind of person. But when it came to filming X-Men [Sophie started playing Jean Grey in X-Men: Apocalypsein 2016], I saw Jennifer Lawrence, who is small, but curvy and not your typical ‘skinny star’. It made me feel so good that people see these women as powerful superheroes, and they don’t have to be stick thin – that’s how it should be. That’s how women should be depicted in every film.”
The Wedding Is Coming
Sophie’s life has transformed, over the past two years in particular, with one fashion ambassadorship for Louis Vuitton and one blindingly huge engagement ring from her pop-star other half – Joe Jonas – who proposed in October 2017 after an 11-month romance. In true Gen-Z fashion, an Instagram announcement followed, along with his and hers Addams Family Halloween costumes, two pooches and a Swiss ski holiday with her in-laws to be, Nick Jonas and Priyanka Chopra(who Sophie affectionately nicknames her J-Sister).
But the biggest changes, she says, have actually come from within. “I think for the longest time I didn’t have a real sense of myself. I had a bit of an identity crisis where I was playing all these people and I’d grown up faster than I probably should have done. I hadn’t been able to experience university, or just spend a lot of time with friends, so for a while I kept thinking, ‘Who am I?’
“A lot of [my happiness now] is to do with being with a person I’ve fallen in love with, who loves me more than he loves himself, and who wants to see me find my own happiness. That was probably the biggest thing that pushed me to find who I am – and find my happiness in things other than acting.” Her happy hobby: “I love a painting sesh. It’s actually really tragic; it’s like the worst painting you’ve ever seen, but I love doing it!”
As someone who fiercely protects her private life, talk of Joe is usually off limits. How has the prying media reshaped her life? Showing a hint of exasperation with the situation, Sophie says, “I appreciate the private moments more than the public ones; I don’t go out as much as I used to. I’m a hermit. As an actor, it’s important to be able to dissolve into a character, to maintain some sort of anonymity and it’s hard if you’re dating a Jonas brother. Well, I think they [the paparazzi] follow Joe – I’m just the tag-along!”
Faced with following the wedding of 2018 (sorry Meghan!), of Priyanka and Nick, a leaked ‘save the date’ suggests Sophie’s dream wedding will take place in France this year. While Sophie won’t confirm or deny any of the details, her bridesmaid Maisie revealed that she’s got a full-throttle hen do planned. But how much of a planner is Sophie? Did she ever foresee getting married at just 23 years old? “I’m actually not a planner at all,” she laughs. “I’m more of a procrastinator. I plan at the last minute and definitely don’t have a five-year plan. I’m not thinking, ‘I wanna have an Oscar by the time I’m 30.’ I just like to ride the wave of life and see where it takes me, rather than setting a plan out for myself. It’s more fun that way, it’s more spontaneous.”
Growing up on set, hundreds of miles away from their homes in Warwickshire and Somerset, meant Sophie (who has two elder brothers) and Maisie (also the youngest in her family, with three older siblings) became each other’s standard bearers on set. How much did this closeness help when working in an industry at the centre of #MeToo? “I never experienced any of that,” Sophie says. “But Maisie is definitely my protector and I’m hers, too. I know if anything happened – especially if it was on Game Of Thrones, which it never, ever would – she’d go fucking crazy and protect me. To have a sister there, a woman who gets how degrading and awful it can be, and how you’re expected to be so submissive in your work, can be very comforting. Maisie is my strong home.”
And the feeling is mutual: “Sophie is someone who really looks out for me. I could call her at any time, and she would pick up. I think that goes a long way in this industry, because you have a lot of friends, but you’re never quite sure of how deep that goes. People surprise you all the time in life.
“I broke up from a best friend in a really messy and difficult way. It was so hard because I like to stay in touch with the people I grew up with. I couldn’t figure out what I’d done and whether I was a bad person – it was tough. Sophie helped me realise I wasn’t the bad person I thought I was.”
Does Maisie still worry about fame affecting her friendships? “Oh God, yeah. It’s all I think about. Well, it’s not, I think about boys a lot, too!” She has remained notably low-key about her long-term relationship with Ollie Jackson – who she met at school – except for the odd exchanging of fire emojis on Instagram and public Trivial Pursuit disputes.
As well as being there to support each other away from The North, Sophie and Maisie are also partial to a prank on set. “Even though we’re sisters [in GOT], we tried to sneak a kiss into every scene we did together to freak everyone out a bit,” Sophie laughs. “It kept them on their toes; making sure they were following the script.”
This sense of fun has helped them cope with the unblinking barbarity their characters face in GOT. Spoiler alert – by the close of season seven, Arya (Maisie) had murdered 64 people and Sansa (Sophie) had been forced into an arranged marriage and suffered continuous abuse. But they have become each other’s escape off camera. Maisie recalls one memorable night out-out when they went to [London nightclub] Fabric the night before flying to LA for the GOT premiere, two seasons ago. “I don’t think either of us went to bed. That was good fun!” Although, she admits, “Our nights in are better than our nights out. We put on Frank Ocean’s Blonde, go to Tesco and get a meal deal. We love watching clips of people on X Factor who get aggressive.”
It gets better, “When we were filming and staying together, we would give each other makeovers,” says Sophie. “I turned Maisie into a Goth once – and just ran around the hotel. We also like to play Ding Dong Ditch a lot, just stupid, childish shit.”
Done Playing Games
Fundamentally, what makes this friendship so remarkable is that there’s zero competition between them. They even constantly recommend each other for potential new roles, something that Maisie thinks is rare in the industry. “For a long time in my career, I didn’t really meet anyone whowas mean or acted like a diva, but then I did,” she says.
“There’s a real lack of respect when people are bitchy on set.” For someone who was heavily bullied when she returned to school after filming the first series of GOT (Maisie even discovered that an anonymous account abusing her online was set up by someone she knew) this experience brought back painful memories of playground politics. “It felt like I was back at school,” she says. “It’s like, ‘We’ve all been given this amazing opportunity and now you’re making it unpleasant for me.’”
It’s hardly surprising that Maisie and Sophie’s anti-Mean Girls approach applies to supporting other young actors they know, too. “Sometimes I think, ‘Oh God, we’re probably all going up for the same roles,’” says Sophie. “‘We’re all the same age, [are we] just going to be catty towards each other?’ But all the women I’ve worked with have been very supportive – and vice versa. I want them to do well because women should be all in it together. I go for a lot of roles that people like Zoey Deutch go for, or Chloë Moretz, but they’re my friends – I really want them to get those roles, and half the time they’re better at the roles than me anyway, so I’m fine with it. I’m glad I didn’t embarrass myself!”
The End Is Coming…
As they both venture into a post-GOT world – Maisie will follow Sophie into the X-Men franchise, with a new, separate film: The New Mutants. Don’t bank on seeing them reunited on screen any time soon, though (sigh). “Everyone on set is sick and tired of us being so loud and laughing so much!” says Maisie. “I don’t know if we’ll work together again. I don’t know if people would cast us in something together because we are so known for these two characters. Game Of Thrones will be some of the funniest days of my life.”
However, their rallying call to young women will outlive GOT. “It’s about what’s in your mind and how clever you are at playing the game – that’s more important and will get you further than how you look,” Maisie adds. “Being switched on, aware, analysing, and understanding people is going to get you so much further than being pretty.”
So, what about those final series plot spoilers? While Maisie jokes that you’d have to get her “very drunk”, to reveal the ending, someone else is already in the know. “I’ve just told Joe [Jonas],” confesses Sophie. “But he’s so mad at me – he loves the show!” She shrugs sheepishly. “Well, I have to tell someone, otherwise I’ll burst.” That’s right, Mophie play by their own rules.
Game Of Thrones season eight airs on Sky Atlantic and Now TV
on April 15. To watch Sophie and Maisie share their hilarious life advice stay tuned to GLAMOUR UK ON MONDAY