Sophie Turner Talks Mental Health & "Dark Phoenix"

By David Konow 06/13/19

The Game of Thrones actress has been open about her struggles with depression in the past. 

Sophie Turner

Sophie Turner from Game of Thrones plays Jean Grey in the new X-Men film Dark Phoenix. In researching the role, Turner spent nine months taking an extensive look into mental illness to prepare.

As Us Weekly reports, Simon Kinberg, the director of Dark Phoenix, sat down with Turner and told her, “Look. This is the story. You know it from the comics. I need you to fully inhabit this sense of losing control, losing your sanity. I need it to feel real… I sent her books, articles and videos about people suffering from schizophrenia, dissociative identity disorder, multiple personality disorder."

In preparing for the role, Turner walked around London and New York, wearing earphones, listening to recorded voices to try and understand what it would be like to live with schizophrenia.

As Turner told Glamour, “When Simon told me about the plot, we decided the things Jean was going through were not unlike schizophrenia and dissociative identity disorder. And so we sent each other documents back and forth—essays, documentaries, all sorts of videos. We really got into it… How the situation affects the X-Men and the people around her is not unlike how addiction affects the people around that person. So we delved into studying those particular subjects.”

“Sophie knew some people that had struggled with similar types of mental health issues,” Kinberg said. “So we would just talk it through and try to find a way for everything in this movie that is supernatural and fantastical to be grounded in something real.”

James McAvoy, who plays Professor Charles Xavier, also told Glamour, “I was excited that mental health was such a massive part of the exploration of the character. It’s about somebody’s mental health, but also a family trying to deal with it.”

Tye Sheridan, who plays Cyclops, added, “I think it’s important, especially in superhero movies, to portray these characters with real problems. I think a lot of people look up to a superhero. You want, as a fan or as someone watching these movies, to believe that you could be like that person… It allows you to believe in growth and the betterment of your person.”

As it turns out, Turner has had her own mental health struggles as well. She recently revealed to Dr. Phil, “I’ve suffered with depression for about five or six years now, and the biggest challenge for me is just getting out of bed, getting out of the house and learning to love yourself.”

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In addition to contributing for The Fix, David Konow has also written for Esquire, Deadline, LA Weekly, Village Voice, The Wrap, and many other publications and websites. He is also the author of the three decade history of heavy metal, Bang Your Head (Three Rivers Press), and the horror film history Reel Terror (St Martins Press). Find David on LinkedIn and Facebook.