All the roles that Sophia Lillis has played so far are defined by one particular quality. The fearless Beverly Marsh, the sole female in the group of pre-teens anchoring the 2017 remake of Stephen King’s It (the sequel, which Lillis is also in, will be out later this year). The young version of Amy Adams’ tormented crime reporter of a protagonist in the suspenseful 2018 miniseries Sharp Objects. The titular character in the recently released Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase.
They’re all hyper-smart — just like the pint-sized 17-year-old in real life. Born and based in Brooklyn, she fits the arty, intellectual mould sans any pretentiousness. She adores Bill Murray, would have pursued music or art if acting “hadn’t stuck”, and calls fashion “another form of design and art” (which might explain why Miuccia Prada likes her and invited her to Miu Miu’s S/S ’18 show).
On set, she’s intuitive and brings along a quiet, playful charm. Her large contemplative blue eyes light up when she speaks; her tone reserved yet warm and assured. That wise-beyond-her-years perceptiveness — a common trait among some of the most successful and enduring actresses of our time (think Adams and Natalie Portman) — reveals itself most, though, when she’s talking about her job.
On what makes a good actor
“Commitment to the job, because you love it — even on days when you don’t feel so. There’s a lot of work involved in improving acting, focusing on changing bits and pieces of your style, and learning through studying others, so you have to have drive.”
The best thing about TV and film today
“The options are amazing. There’s so much out there and people are trying different things, like the limited series format that’s an eight-hour-long movie, really. It also seems easier for younger, less established actors and directors to get their work out there.”
The worst thing about TV and film today
“Film seems to have become less original… and big flashy films seem to drown out quieter ones… (People should remember that) there are so many older movies that don’t have any CGI and were made with hardly any money, yet their story, characters and cinematography are so great, they’ve lasted through the years.”
On how she’d like to change the industry
“One thing I’ve noticed is the unrealistic way teenage girls appear in movies and on TV: angsty and disrespectful, especially to their mums, and obsessed with stupid stuff. That’s really not me or most of the girls I know, yet it’s become a stereotype, so we need more authentic young female characters. Many roles are already written out, so I’d like to work hard and try develop the ones I play to make them more realistic.”
Photography Franco Schike, assisted by Laerke Rose Mollegaard & Jed Abbi Styling Ian Bradley/ The Wall Group Hair Fernando Torrent/L’Atelier NYC Makeup Akiko Owada Flowers Yuky Hwang/nunko
This story first appeared in Female’s April 2019 issue.