The stunning transformation of Sophie Turner

Sophie Turner was one of the most memorable cast members on Games of Thrones, arguably the most popular fantasy TV series of all time. From 2011 to 2019, fans were captivated by the show, which was based on the bestselling book series by George R.R. Martin.

Turner was just a teenager when she landed the Game of Thrones role of Sansa Stark, and the HBO show proved to be her big break. Turner grew up on the show, and her role on the hit series led to her landing other high-profile roles in the entertainment industry. Turner is all grown up now and has become a young woman with a promising acting career ahead of her. Since she first appeared on Game of Thrones, the young actress has literally transformed in front of our very eyes. Here’s a look at just how much Sophie Turner has changed over the years.

Sophie Turner started acting at the age of 3

Acting was a lifelong passion for Sophie Turner. She got her start in the art when she was just 3 years old thanks to her mom. According to the Telegraph, Turner’s mother brought her to a drama class when she was just a toddler, “mainly so she could have a cup of coffee for an hour.”

Turner was hooked. “I was always creative from the age of about two,” she told Harper’s Bazaar. “My best friend and I used to put on plays every time we hung out. It became something my life revolved around.” She added, “[Acting] was like breathing to me.”

Turner was also a talented ballet dancer but ended up turning down a place at White Lodge, the Royal Ballet School, because it conflicted with her weekend acting class. “I think it was a good decision in the end,” she said. “I’m a bit too tall and I like pasta too much, so I am not sure I would have gone all the way to prima ballerina.”

Sophie Turner got her start in youth theater

While she wouldn’t get her big television break on Game of Thrones until she was a teenager, Sophie Turner had a lot of off-camera acting experience under her belt before she became Sansa Stark. Long before she was cast in Game of Thrones, Turner participated in youth theater productions. In an interview with Game of Thrones fan blog Winter Is Coming in 2011, Turner credited youth theater with building up her confidence and helping her hone her skills.

“Playbox Theatre is a fantastic youth theatre which never forces or moulds people to become a certain type of person or actor, they never want to make a ‘Playbox actor,'” said Turner. “Playbox works with different peoples talents and structures them and guides them, showing them how to use their talents to their advantage and mould them into an independent actor not a certain breed of young Playbox actors. Playbox brought out my confidence and that helped me not only in acting but also in my personal life.”

Sophie Turner auditioned for Game of Thrones as a joke

Landing the role of Sansa Stark on Game of Thrones completely changed Sophie Turner’s life. At the beginning, though, Turner didn’t take the audition very seriously. In fact, while she was already in love with acting, she only signed up to audition for Game of Thrones because that’s what her friends were doing. Turner didn’t even tell her parents that she was auditioning for the show. “I didn’t tell my parents that I auditioned for Game of Thrones. They just kind of found out,” Turner told Jessica Chastain in an interview for Vogue Paris.

Casting director Nina Gold visited schools across the U.K. looking for actors for Game of Thrones. One of the schools she visited was Turner’s. “Me and all my friends auditioned,” Turner said. “We just thought it was kind of a fun, kind of jokey thing to do. … And then I just got call back, after call back…”

Turner was in the final seven candidates when her parents found out. While her mom wasn’t sure if she should let her daughter proceed, Turner’s dad was on board, telling her, “Shut up, this is what she has wanted her whole life. You have to let her give it a go.”

Sophie Turner's family kept her grounded when she became famous

Sophie Turner has a close bond with her family. She described her parents as “incredibly supportive” to Net-a-Porter. Her mother quit her job to move with her to Croatia when Game of Thrones began filming, and Turner says that her two older brothers are her best friends. “They definitely keep me grounded,” she told the Telegraph in 2015. “If we watch an episode [of Game of Thrones] at home I’ll ask them what they thought and they’ll tell me it was OK. I need that.”

Turner’s close bond with her family even encouraged her husband, Joe Jonas, to bond with his own brothers. After their musical group, the Jonas Brothers, broke up, things were tense between the three siblings, but Turner’s example made Joe want to mend their relationship. “It encouraged me to see she had such a great relationship with her brothers,” he told Harper’s Bazaar. “That was really a big thing for me to be able to look at, and say, ‘I gotta get my s*** together.'”

The Game of Thrones cast and crew became Sophie Turner's second family

Game of Thrones is not exactly a kid-friendly show, but the cast made the set a welcoming environment for the 13-year-old Sophie Turner. Turner bonded with the cast quickly, especially with Maisie Williams, who played Sansa Stark’s sister on Game of Thrones, Arya Stark. The pair swiftly bonded, immediately clicking at their chemistry read. “We were pretty much best friends from that second on,” Turner told Rolling Stone.

The actress told The New York Times that being with her castmates and the show’s crew is one of the things she will always miss most about Game of Thrones. “Every night we would all meet up — crew, cast, everyone — at the bar and have drinks and just chat and laugh, and it was just a family,” she said. “I’ve never felt such a strong bond with a group of people in my life; I know that they’re going to be my family forever. I had father figures on the show, like the camera man and the grips and the props guys. Brotherly figures — hundreds of them.”

Growing up on camera took a toll on Sophie Turner's mental health

Becoming famous at such a young age was hard on Sophie Turner. Added to the sudden onset of fame was the media scrutiny and the pressure to conform to a certain beauty standard. “I have experienced mental illness firsthand and I’ve seen what it can do to the people around [the sufferers] as well,” she told Marie Claire. “My metabolism suddenly decided to fall to the depths of the ocean and I started to get spotty and gain weight, and all of this was happening to me on camera.” A slowed-down metabolism is just one of the ways that every woman’s body changes in her 20s.

Game of Thrones studio execs pushed Turner to lose weight, while internet trolls criticized her, causing Turner’s mental health to suffer. While things grew dark for Turner (in a podcast interview with Dr. Phil, she admitted there were times she could barely get out of bed because of her depression), she coped by going to therapy. “Everyone needs a therapist, especially when people are constantly telling you you’re not good enough and you don’t look good enough,” said Turner. “I think it’s necessary to have someone to talk to, and to help you through that.”

Sophie Turner might go to college one day

While Sophie Turner didn’t mind missing out on some adolescent milestones, she does regret that she wasn’t able to go off to college. “I wish I’d had the university experience,” she said on The Graham Norton Show in 2019. “I wish I’d been able to go out and drink a lot and throw up in the middle of a club and not get pictured doing it.” She added, “I’m happy with my Game of Thrones experience. I don’t think I missed out on too much.”

While Turner hasn’t announced any immediate plans to rectify that regret, she has expressed an interest before in furthering her education at some point so it’s possible that she may enroll in some college courses in the future. In 2015, she told The Telegraph that she’d like to pursue a degree one day in either history or psychology. “I just don’t know when I will have time,” she said.

Fame made it difficult for Sophie Turner to trust people

While Sophie Turner loved being part of Game of Thrones and maturing on the set of the HBO series, growing up famous was not without its share of grief. Because she grew up in the limelight, Turner found it difficult to trust others as she was surrounded by so many insincere people.

“I trust very few people and not because I don’t warm to people immediately, but I suppose if you are in the public eye, then you kind of have to protect yourself a bit more,” Turner told Who. “And so, all the people that I trust are pretty much my family and my friends that I have had since I was 2 years [old]. They are the people that I trust.”

In this way, Turner says she’s a lot like her Game of Thrones character, Sansa Stark. “I don’t think Sansa has ever fully trusted anyone, not even in her family,” she said.

Sophie Turner had to transform her body for her X-Men role

Another one of Sophie Turner’s big roles was that of Jean Grey in the film X-Men: Apocalypse, which came out in 2016. The role didn’t just prove how much Turner had transformed as an actress over the years, but it also required a significant transformation as Turner prepared to play a superhero. “I needed to get in shape — and quick!” the actress told Self.

Turner proved that she was tough and dedicated to her craft, going into extreme training mode. The star, who starred alongside the likes of actresses Jennifer Lawrence and Lana Condor and American Horror Story‘s Evan Peters, exercised up to an hour a day six times a week to get in shape for the role — all while working 13-hour days. Turner’s journey echoed those of both her X-Men character and her Game of Thrones character. “Both Jean and Sansa are strong characters with such great arcs,” said Turner. “Neither starts out strong, but they find that power within them, whether literally or metaphorically.” 

Sophie Turner took a break after Game of Thrones to find herself

After Game of Thrones wrapped in 2019, Sophie Turner found that she didn’t know what to do with herself. She had grown up on the show, and the Game of Thrones cast had become her second family. After playing Sansa Stark for so long, just being Sophie was a challenge for the young actress. “I’m just coming to terms with it right now, it’s like a death in the family,” she told Harper’s Bazaar in March 2019. “I’m losing the character I’ve played so long.”

Turner ended up taking some time off after Game of Thrones in order to plan her next steps and to get reacquainted with herself and her passions outside acting. “I’ve been trying to figure out what I like to do for myself,” she said. “It’s been 10 years of playing someone else, and doing what I’m told, and now I’m like ‘Hmmm. Maybe I should find some hobbies.’ I’m passionate about lots of things. I’ll sit in my house in New York and paint. And I’m doing ballet again.”

Sophie Turner never thought she'd get married

While she was growing up, Sophie Turner fully expected to live her life alone. She couldn’t see herself ever settling down with a partner and was fine with the idea of never getting married. “I was fully preparing myself to be single for the rest of my life,” she told Rolling Stone in 2019. “I think once you’ve found the right person, you just know. I feel like I’m much older a soul than I am in age. I feel like I’ve lived enough life to know. I’ve met enough guys to know — I’ve met enough girls to know. I don’t feel 22. I feel like 27, 28.”

Turner expanded on her sexuality, saying that she’s been with girls before and that she doesn’t really think of gender when it comes to choosing a partner. “Everyone experiments,” said the actress. “It’s part of growing up. I love a soul, not a gender.”

Sophie Turner says she and her husband "balance each other out"

Even though she didn’t think that she would ever get married, Sophie Turner proved herself wrong. She ended up tying the knot with Joe Jonas in 2019, after two years of dating. The couple met through the magic of social media. “We had a lot of mutual friends and they’d been trying to introduce us for a long time,” she told Harper’s Bazaar. “We were following each other on Instagram and he direct-messaged me one fine day, out of the blue.”

That “out of the blue” message clearly worked. “He’s lovely,” said Turner. “He’s just the funniest. … He’s the most fun, energetic, positive person I’ve ever seen. I’m pessimistic, so we balance each other out.”

Jonas is more than just a loving husband. Turner also credits the singer with helping her turn her life around. When she met Jonas, she was 20 years old and at the height of her struggles with mental health. “He was, like, ‘I can’t be with you until you love yourself, I can’t see you love me more than you love yourself,'” Turner told the Sunday Times (via People). “That was something, him doing that. I think he kind of saved my life, in a way.”

Game of Thrones turned Sophie Turner into an activist

One of the biggest ways that Sophie Turner has transformed since her early days on Game of Thrones is in her activism. Turner grew into a young woman who cares about social justice. “Initially, I didn’t feel there was anything that stayed with me from all the things Sansa went through,” she told Harper’s Bazaar. “But though I think it hasn’t affected me emotionally, I did start thinking about the domestic abuse … and it spurred this little part of me that might be an activist.”

Turner is a big supporter of the #MeToo movement. All of her contracts include a rider which lets her ensure that the workforce is half male and half female on any project she works on.

Turner is also passionate about destigmatizing mental health, telling Net-a-Porter, “The first step to any kind of movement is just to put it out there, talk about it and make it less of a taboo so that people can go and get help and not feel embarrassed to do so. People feel so much shame about it, so if, by talking about it, I can even have an impact on one person, that would be awesome.”

Sophie Turner has been upending beauty standards

While Sophie Turner might look classically beautiful, she says that she’s not always glammed up. In fact, she feels quite comfortable in loungewear and wants to do away with the expectation that actresses always look ready for the red carpet. “There’s this expectation for actresses to look good all the time, which is not what being an actress should be,” Turner told Net-a-Porter. “It should be about playing a role. So why should all actresses have to be stick-thin and look beautiful all the time?”

Tuner isn’t just frustrated with the expectation to look good in real life, but also hates the beauty standards in place for women on screen. “Every director is like: ‘We really have to fall in love with this character,'” she said. “Why does the audience have to fall in love with her? What if she’s a serial killer? F*** that s***.”

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