Sophie Turner Embraced Her Mental Illness for Quibi's 'Survive'

Marie Clarie spoke with the actress about bringing "honesty" to her latest role.

Quibi/Janis Pipars

Warning: This show contains content about suicidal ideation and substance abuse. It may be triggering for some viewers.


Sophie Turner is no stranger to playing survivors. In Game of Thrones, Sansa Stark endured years of trauma and loss and assault to come out the other side a literal queen. And in X-Men, Turner's Jean Grey weathers her own darkness, eventually embracing the immense power she has to offer.

But in her latest project, Survive, Turner plays a young adult who decidedly does not want to go on. The film, which released its first few "chapters" on the mobile streaming platform Quibi on April 6, opens with Turner's character, Jane, living in a facility trying to process the grief from her father's suicide. She, too, is struggling with suicidal ideation, planning to go through with the act on her flight home. Before she can, the plane crashes leaving Jane and just one other passenger, Paul (played by Corey Hawkins) stranded in the snowy mountains. The bite-sized episodes then follow the pair as they physically fight to stay alive while Jane wonders if she even wants to.

It's a role Turner admittedly knew was out of her physical comfort zone: "I had no experience with fighting off wolves or surviving in the mountains," Turner told Marie Claire recently. But at the same time, the actress revealed she felt a connection and familiarity with Jane, due to her personal struggles with mental health.

Here, Turner shares more about the character, what she loves about survival movies, and whether she'd rather fight in Game of Thrones' most brutal battle or battle Survive's icy elements.

Marie Claire: What drew you to this character? Had you read the book by Alex Morel that the film is based on?

Sophie Turner: I just loved the accurate depiction of mental illness. I loved the talent of the people that I was going to be working with. I loved the new innovative platform that it would be shown on. And I loved the book!

MC: Was it different filming a Quibi show, knowing the “chapters” are each only about 10 minutes long? Were you prepping like you were filming short “bites” or as if you were still filming a movie?

    ST: We shot the show as if it were a movie and then, post shooting, we went back and looked at our work to see what needed to be condensed/elongated in order for a full story to be told in a 1o-minute episode.

    MC: Were you already a fan of any other plane crash movies (like Castaway) or TV shows (like Lost)? If so, what did you take from those programs to bring to Survive?

      ST: I always loved survival movies, and I always knew I wanted to be a part of one in some way. So I was more than ready to sign onto a project like this. The only thing I took from other survival movies and shows was just the level of commitment that people brought to the projects. So I knew I wanted to do as much as possible in the real locations and throw myself into it.

      MC: You’ve been very outspoken about your own mental health, from battling depression to the benefits of therapy. What about your own mental health journey did you bring to Jane’s arc? Or did anything about Jane’s journey in Survive change your understanding of your own mental health?

        ST: I just tried to bring as much honesty to Jane's story regarding mental illness as possible. Having gone through a lot of the things that Jane has, I could edit the script as much as I wanted, with our director and writer, to make sure it all felt as honest as possible.

        Jane (Sophie Turner) and Paul (Corey Hawkins) battle the elements after surviving a plane crash.
        Quibi/Janis Pipars

        MC: How have you been surviving during this time of social distancing?

          ST: I’m an introvert, so I haven’t really been doing much different than normal!

          MC: Other than watching Quibis, what’s something you like doing for 5–10 minute spurts?

            ST: Meditating, eating, playing with the pups.

            MC: Would you rather have to fight in the Battle of the Bastards and flee from dragons à la Game of Thrones or scale icy mountains and deal with avalanches à la Survive?

              ST: As Sophie, I would definitely rather scale icy mountains and deal with avalanches. Battle of the Bastards—I wouldn’t stand a chance.

              MC: Which Game of Thrones houses would Paul and Jane be in?

                ST: Probably Stark. Who else could survive in such freezing conditions?

                The final chapter of Survive will drop on Quibi April 17.


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