Jumper ELIZABETH & JAMES, trousers JEREMY SCOTT, socks PRADA and shoes MARC JACOBS
15 years-old and actor Sophia Lillis is already cooler than you both on screen and off. Standout star of last summer’s smash hit adaptation of Stephen King’s It, Lillis received rave reviews for her performance as Beverly. When we meet at a Brooklyn café close to her family’s apartment, Lillis is remarkably chill for a teenager who’s had the phrase “breakout star” attached to her name for six months. Polite and humble, shrugging off any suggestion her success has made her different from her school classmates, there’s no sign of Hollywood’s various child actor curses here.
Although I’m not sure if any of her fellow pupils can claim invitations to Miu Miu shows in Paris. A New York native, Lillis started taking acting classes at the age of seven (she currently attends a theatre program with an unfortunate commute to Times Square), picking up roles in student films shortly after. “My twin brother was very, very successful from a super young age, just really academically inclined,” she laughs. “So my mom looked at me and was like, ‘We have to get her to do something!’”
(LEFT) Jacket PAUL SMITH, skirt TRIPP NYC, shoes and socks PRADA and T-shirt vintage from RAGGEDY THREADS
(RIGHT) Scarf MARGARET HOWELL, top MARC JACOBS, suit THOM BROWNE, shoes MARC JACOBS and socks PRADA
Said something has clearly worked out. Lillis appeared in indie films before leaving a lasting impression as the only girl amongst It’s cadre of teens, known in the film as the “Losers’ Club”. True to life, her role as the singular girl showed maturity beyond the boys. Becoming leader of the pack and something of an enigma from their perspective, Beverly’s seemingly clued up on the secrets of adulthood and what lies beyond. Is there anything as mysterious to teenage boys as teenage girls?
Lillis offers sweet reassurance in the sanctity of adolescent friendships when she explains the Losers’ Club exists in real life. Out of the cast, which includes Stranger Things’ Finn Wolfhard, Jaden Lieberher, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Wyatt Oleff, and Chosen Jacobs, she stays in touch the most with Oleff. As she says, “Wyatt answers my texts the quickest!” The trustiest measure of loyalty aged 15.
Next up for Lillis is a role in HBO’s adaptation of Sharp Objects, Gone Girl writer Gillian Flynn’s debut novel. The show, premiering next summer, tells the story of troubled, self-harming reporter Camille Preaker (played by Amy Adams) who returns to her hometown to investigate the murders of two teenage girls. Lillis will play Adams’ younger self. And much like It, Sharp Objects is not exactly a cuddly story. Although this story is sans clowns.
I ask Lillis if there’s a reason she’s cast in darker material. “I don’t know why!” She laughs. “Honestly, I have no idea.” Both It and Sharp Objects show Lillis playing teens who deal with trauma and abuse, parts that require a great deal of emotional intelligence to be played convincingly. “I try to find something in the character I can relate to in some way,” she explains. “I kind of imagine something in my own life, to try to support the emotion.”
“I mean,” she pauses, seeming thoughtful, while I wait for some philosophical declarations. “I just kind of wing it!”
(LEFT) Hat TOPSHOP and T-shirt vintage from RAGGEDY THREAD
(CENTRE & RIGHT) Trousers STELLA MCCARTNEY and T-shirt vintage from RAGGEDY THREAD
Lillis does like the dark stuff, she says it helps her deal with tough issues that may come along. But she would like to try her hand at a comedy (she loves Bill Murray — shocker). And while she’s clear to explain that she’s enjoyed her opportunities in blockbusters, she especially likes working on indies. “Sometimes smaller films have a more natural feel to them that I really enjoy,” she says. “I like being in a crowd that’s trying to put their work out there in the first place, instead of people who are already at the top and trying to stay there.”
Switching to the other side of the camera, Lillis is interested in photography, a hobby encouraged by her artistic stepfather. Her Instagram page is filled with portraits of friends, family, and members of the Losers’ Club (as a result, it’s extremely popular). And the actor’s parents are major film buffs — they’ve shown her the best of the French and Italian New Wave. I ask for her favourites and she rattles off classics like Fellini’s Nights of Cabiria and Vittorio De Sica’s Bicycle Thieves the way other kids might casually mention they liked Mean Girls.
But what about the most important question: is she afraid of clowns? As someone who finds clowns both frightening and aesthetically repellant, this writer cannot imagine interacting with one all day for work. And in addition to his scary clown face, It’s Pennywise also has some particularly alarming teeth. But Lillis is made of stronger stuff than I. “I’m not afraid of clowns,” she smirks. “His teeth kept falling out of his mouth on set. That kind of ruined it for me.” It seems pretty clear Sophia Lillis isn’t afraid of anything.
Taken from the Winter 17/18 Issue of Wonderland; out now and available to buy here.
(LEFT) Jumper ELIZABETH & JAMES, trousers JEREMY SCOTT, socks PRADA and shoes MARC JACOBS
(RIGHT) Hat TOPSHOP and T-shirt vintage from RAGGEDY THREAD