SOPHIE NÉLISSE - NO FILTER NEEDED
We discovered her when she was just 10 through her Genie and Jutra award-winning performance in Monsieur Lazhar. With The Book Thief and Worst Case, We Get Married, she continued to show us the full extent of her young talent. Meet this absolutely endearing lady!
We were double-checking that everything was in place for the shoot when Sophie arrived. Wearing grey sweatpants and a big smile, she took the time warmly say hello to each and every one of us! Sometimes you have to break the ice before entering into the personal life of an artist… But with Sophie, I would say that it’s rather the young actress who put us at ease. After a few minutes, she was already speaking like an open book, adding with her mischievous smile: "I know, I have no filter!" And that's totally fine, because she doesn't need one!
She remained as friendly and generous during the whole interview and shoot. No, Sophie Nélisse doesn’t take herself seriously, but what she does, she does it wonderfully.
Today, we have colourful and refreshing looks for you. We’re clearly looking forward to spring! How would you describe your personal style?
I would like to be the kind of girl who’s able to wear trendy outfits like the ones I see on Pinterest, but honestly, I always end up wearing sweatpants, hoodies and Converse. Sometimes, I try to pull off cute outfits that I see on other people, but it doesn’t work. It’s too bad because I have plenty of clothes, but I just don’t know where to start. And of course, on social networks, we see many skinny girls… It’s nothing to help. I have wide hips so the clothes don’t look the same on me. Also, I hate being uncomfortable. When I wear jeans, I can’t breathe properly or sit well and it drives me nuts.
But do you like getting dressed and having your hair and make-up done for work?
Yes, I like that! I usually don’t wear makeup at all. When I do, I feel like another person! It’s good for my self-esteem! When I went to Cannes, we worked on my look for hours and it was amazing, but in the morning before school, I don’t put any effort into managing my appearance.
And when you’re at the CEGEP, does being someone who is well known put any pressure on you?
Not really. I don’t have time to look flawless all the time and even if I wanted to, I don’t know how to. If I put on lipstick, it gets all over my teeth, if I wear mascara it flows everywhere, especially because I tend to rub my eyes! Since I’ve never really known how to put on makeup, I grew up wearing none so I'm used to it… And people get the real deal right away! (Laugh)
You travel a lot for work. Do you adapt your style to the cities you visit?
Yes and no! Recently, I went to London. I made sure to bring lightweight scarves, leopard glasses... The effort is there! But… I never wore all the cute things I brought with me. In fact I did try to wear them... but I took them off right away! (Laugh). Of course, for the first days, I try to wear ''real clothes'' but over time, I’m back to sweatpants or even pyjamas! That’s what starting to work at 5am looks like!
You speak both English and French, which allows you to get contracts here, but also in Hollywood productions. How is it that you speak perfectly both languages?
I was born in Ontario so I learned English very young. We moved to Montreal when I was four and here, I mostly spoke French, but I was still able to understand English. Auditioning for The Book Thief was a good occasion to get back to it. Actually, I realized that I hadn’t really lost it that much!
You started acting at a very young age. How did you find out that’s what you wanted to do?
My brother wanted to be an actor so my mother found a casting agency for kids and my sister and I also got in. Then, I got the part in Monsieur Lazhar. However, at that time, I had no intention of making a career out of it. Even when I stopped gymnastics to do The Book Thief, it was more like a hobby. However, towards the end of high school, when I started looking for career opportunities, I realized that acting was the only thing I wanted to do. I wasn’t able to imagine myself doing anything else. In addition, this job allows me to travel, to meet new people and there’s always something exciting happening. I can’t wait for the shoot, then the trailer, and then the media premiere… It's very exciting! But of course, realizing that I don’t have a plan B puts added pressure…!
And do you think that this pressure is more positive or negative?
A bit of both. Sometimes I find it difficult because I’m very competitive. When I started, there weren’t that many young actresses, but now that I’m older, it’s very different… There, are so many women auditioning for the same role, especially in the States. I do a lot of self-tapes, and most of the time, I get no feedback. It's normal, but it’s frustrating not knowing what to improve... But as we say: ''What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger''. It sounds cheesy, but it's true. Whenever I’m not called back, it frustrates me, but it also pushes me to work harder.
Nowadays, being a public figure comes with a constant presence on social networks. Does having many followers on Instagram feel like a chance or a big responsibility?
Both! I don’t take Instagram very seriously. Some people are obsessed with followers. Especially in the States, social networks play a big role in the careers of actors. People with the most followers have more acting opportunities and I don’t feel like it should be that way. But sometimes, I appreciate being able to reach a broad public. For example, when my sister is shooting, I’m happy to help her get more visibility. Recently, there was also a girl who wanted to go to Antarctica for a photography contest and I was thrilled to help. But it definitely has a cost because no matter what you do, you will be judged, and I don’t want to live a ‘’double life’’. I’m very transparent on social media. Pretending to be someone else is very exhausting!
Are you sensitive to criticism on networks?
Not that much. It’s the same with film critics. If you believe the good things they say, you also have to believe the bad ones. That's why I try not to read too much what people say about me. Maybe I should interact more with my fans… Sometimes I see really nice messages that people write, but since you never know what you’re going to get, I prefer to rely on my own opinion and those of my friends and family!
Your mother helps you manage your career and often follows you abroad for film shootings. Is it sometimes hard to work with your mom?
My relationship with my mom is really special. People who see us together say we should have a reality show! (Laugh) We love each other, we’re very close, we tell each other everything, BUT we’re very similar and we have really strong personalities, so we argue a lot. It's difficult because she sort of works for me, but she’s also my mom. It's not always easy, but I love working with her!
Young girls often want to be more independent? That’s not your case?
Not really. Pretty much everyone loves my mother and she’s independent too! When we were in London, I would usually go to bed much earlier than she did. Sometimes, she’s the one telling me to have a drink and loosen up a bit!
You’ve played pretty intense characters. Is it far from your real personality?
Well, I’m pretty intense too! Like I was saying, I’m not a party girl, but I do have a strong personality. In fact, it’s almost like I have two personalities. There are situations where I feel super extroverted, but others where I don’t at all! Most of my friends are guys. I don’t always know how to deal with girls. I'm afraid that they’re not going to like me. Flirting is also not my thing! I’m not the one who’s going to talk to a guy in a bar and I don’t know how to be sexy. However, when I have a crush on a guy, I’m super intense. I tell it to all my friends and I make plenty of scenarios in my head… but in real life I will never talk to him! (Laugh)
Which actresses inspire you?
I really like Karine Vanasse. I worked with her and she really has both feet on the ground. She’s very smart and she was extremely nice to me and to everyone on the set. She’s also clever when it comes to choosing her contracts, so she inspires me a lot! In the States, I really like Kate Winslet. She started a movement by refusing to be photoshoped. Here, Sarah-Jeanne Labrosse also showed how easy it is to create unrealistic beauty standards. With Facetune, for $2.99, you can change your appearance and the result is extremely realistic… I find it sad that our generation feels the need to look like pictures that aren’t even real!
More and more actresses also work behind the camera. Is this something you would like to explore?
I am currently studying cinema. I’m glad to see how it works, but I don’t really want to do this professionally. Maybe one day I could explore directing or producing, but right now, all I really want to do is acting!
We know that you worked in London recently. What are your upcoming projects?
This year, you’ll see me in two movies. The first one is called The Rest of Us and the second one is the one that I was shooting in London. It’s a shark movie that will be released on August 16th. It’s called 47 Meters Down: Uncaged. It’s a sequel to 47 Meters Down that’s already on Netflix. This experience has been really challenging. We had to shoot in a hole under water. I was so nervous, but I succeeded and that makes me really proud. I can’t wait to see the final result because obviously, when we were shooting, there were no sharks!
Photographer: Sarah Laroche
Assistant Photographer: Penelope Gauvreau
Muse: Sophie Nélisse
Hair & Makeup Artist: Marie-Pier Durand
Graphic Design: Christine Robichaud
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