Sally A. Edwards interviewed Sophie Cookson hot off the heels of her second outing as Roxy for "Kingsman: The Golden Circle". You can see her in Michael Winterbottom's "Greed" with Steve Coogan streaming now.
The shoot and interview took place in spring 2017
Interview and Art Direction by Sally A. Edwards
Photography by Sarah J. Edwards
Make-Up by Anna Wild
Hair by Joe Pickering
Shot on location at Elms Lesters Painting Rooms, London
Sophie Cookson has been on our radar for quite some time. She was pretty much plucked from acting school, graduating and in an instant going straight into her role as Roxy in the infamous "Kingsman" films. Since we first discovered her, she's clocked up roles with some of Hollywood's finest.
Sophie joined us in London at Elms Lesters for her shoot. The location was initially used for theatre backdrops to be painted on huge frames. The remanence of thousands of colours adorn the high walls giving the place an enormous creative energy, making this one of our favourite secret places. Sophie said of her future, “Some theatre would be lovely, having that in the moment, palpable connection with the audience is electric.”
The setting was very apt as she would go on to be on stage with Orlando Bloom in Killer Joe at London’s Trafalgar Studios. Another wish granted.
Please introduce yourself and tell us how you feel at this very moment in time.
“I’m Sophie Cookson and at this very moment I’m feeling super achy from the gym... it’s been a while.”
You were pretty much thrown in at the deep end with acting - you'd literally just graduated then you landed a role being directed by Matthew Vaughn. Was there anything destiny-like about getting role and what was your instinctive thought when the offer arrived?
“I mean I was terrified! Throughout the audition process the only thing running through my head was ‘There’s no way in hell I’m getting this’. So when I actually got the call I was completely stupefied and even now it seems ridiculous and far-fetched! I don’t know about “destiny-like”, but it was definitely a case of right time, right place.”
Once on set, what things had you learnt from your studies that came in handy and what things were completely brand new to you?
“Well drama school definitely gave me a good grounding, but honestly I don’t think anything you learn can prepare you to walk onto a set like that! Mark Strong is incredible to work with, he taught me a lot about keeping focused when things get tough on set and about the camera angles / sizes and how to utilise them. Then, there was underwater training, gun training, and working in a harness... A lot of new information!”
You've since made a film with previous BLAG cover star, Adrien Brody. Please tell us about the film and what it was like working with Adrien?
“The film I did with Adrien is called Emperor. It’s set in the 1500s and Adrien plays Charles V who executes my [character's] father for his religious beliefs, I then hunt Charles down to avenge my father's death. I loved working with Adrien. Due to the nature of our characters’ relationship we worked together very closely and played around / experimented a lot. Some of our scenes are my favourite to date that I’ve shot.”
You've also filmed a follow-up to the hugely successful Kingsman: The Secret Service with Kingsman: The Golden Circle. You're in great company with co-stars Julianne Moore, Jeff Bridges and Channing Tatum. Please can you tell us what it was like essentially returning to your beginnings and being back with some of the same cast with Taron Egerton, Mark Strong and Colin Firth, yet with a brand new story and new cast mates?
“Yeah it’s always nice to be reunited with familiar faces. It's amazing how as soon as you get back on set and in costume, you have muscle memory. I really enjoy working with Matthew and having that shorthand from working together before.
Roxy’s definitely grown up. She has a lot more responsibilities... and a cracking Kingsman suit!”
You made Gypsy for Netflix. Starring alongside Naomi Watts and directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson. Can you tell us the story in a nutshell, your character and what you had to bring to the role?
“[Gypsy] was the most thrilling, intriguing script I’d read in a long time. It takes place in modern day New York and Naomi plays a therapist, Jean, who ends up infiltrating the lives of her patients. Unbeknownst to my character Sidney, one of her clients is my ex-boyfriend. Naomi then hunts me down pretending to be someone else and we end up in a very intense power struggle...! Throughout the series we begin to see Jean’s lies start to catch up with her and the impact that has on others. I instantly felt a connection with Sidney and was desperate to play her. Sid’s super complicated and a walking contradiction, what you see is never quite what you’re going to get. Playing Sid meant I had to be completely fearless, she doesn’t hold back!”
The directors you've worked with are greatly respected. Can you describe the way they work and how they make you feel as an actor?
“One of the thing I’ve learnt is the actor-director relationship is not a cookie-cutter thing! It can take time to establish a language and learn how both respective parties like to work.
There’s nothing like working through a scene and really discovering with the director where the heart of it lies and all these little nuances you might not have thought of. It is an artistic collaboration, rather the than teacher / pupil relationship, which I think I might have viewed it as when I started out.”
So many people are turning to on-demand television which is changing the face of work for actors giving them jobs for many years as opposed to anywhere from say two weeks to six months on a film. How is that changing the audition and career planning process?
"Yes it’s definitely different. As an actor having something that almost resembles a routine is odd. I think like everything it has its ups and downs, not knowing what’s around the corner can be exciting, but also exhausting. Having more time for an in-depth exploration of your character is very attractive. I don't think it changes how I “plan” my career so to speak. The most important thing for me is being challenged by the material and excited by it, be that in any medium.”
Lots of actors are also expanding into producing and writing or directing. Would you see yourself doing this and if so what do you think feels most natural for you and why?
“I’d love to get involved in all of the above. I enjoy working closely with my director / writer and troubleshooting, looking at the story as a whole and how best to tell it. [Though I] think I better stick to acting for a bit longer and leave the rest to the pros for now!”
What's next for you?
“Next is the strange part! I’ve got lot of things about to come out or in post production. I’m still not used to doing all the work, moving on and then having to wait sometimes years for it to resurface and be watched.”