Kate Dickie and Sophie Turner in Game of Thrones (2011)

Sophie Turner Talks About Trauma Experienced During Filming Certain ‘Game of Thrones’ Scenes

What is the legacy of 'Game of Thrones'?

It has been quite a while since Sophie Turner played Sansa Stark on Game of Thrones, but in a recent interview, the actress spoke about how working on the blockbuster show impacted her mental health.

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Turner was interviewed by Dark Phoenix co-star Jessica Chastain for The Cut about the experiences of being such a public star at such a young age.

“I felt I overexposed myself to the point where I welcomed everything in and everyone in on their opinions. Now, I think I would fight harder than I ever have to try and protect that,” Turner explained. As Turner is now a mother, wife, and pregnant with her second child, I can understand why she would choose that.

“How do you go into a character and then let it go to go back to Sophie and have your normal life again? Do you have a ritual?” Chastain asks.

“It’s so weird. I don’t, but I kind of find it quite easy to go in and out. You saw on X-Men, in between takes, singing and dancing together. It does help having people around that are also willing to step out of it as well,” Turner answered. “And it’s just something that growing up on a show like Game of Thrones, the subject matter was so heavy that I just developed a coping mechanism of just having the most fun in between takes, so I wouldn’t get traumatized.”

She followed up, “I’m sure I’ll exhibit some symptoms of trauma down the road. At that age [Turner was 15 when filming the first season], I don’t think I could comprehend a lot of the scene matter. And the first few years, I had my mom with me because she was chaperoning me, so she would be very helpful and give me snacks. I don’t know what it is, but I feel like a 10-year-old in a school play again when someone that I know comes and sees me on set. I feel so embarrassed.”

While Turner’s comments are fairly at ease, it just builds upon the many women associated with the series who have talked about it affecting their mindset. Especially when it comes to nudity.

Game of Thrones’s Legacy

In the post-Game of Thrones world, there has been much speculation about what its legacy would be, terrible final season aside. Especially with how much it used trauma, sexual violence, and nudity to appeal to its huge audience.

For me, as someone who does very much enjoy the “Difficult Men” era of television, what is important about the showrunners working on Man Men, Breaking Bad, and The Sopranos, even at their most problematic, is that they knew their protagonists were pieces of shit.

They were intrigued by the complex morality and the way that this discussed manhood in an ever-changing world. Despite fandoms allowing their internalized sexism to run amuck, the writers did not support the idea that the Skyler Whites of the world were the “true evil.” These shows wanted and challenged viewers to reflect deeply on themselves and who they see as heroes and villains.

Game of Thrones didn’t do that. It tried, but it couldn’t help play into the archetypes that the original book series played with. Complex female characters became victims, evil stepmothers, and fascist dictators for convenience, while Tyrion Lannister had every grey bit of morality whitewashed until he was a shell of his book self.

Other male characters who possessed any bit of nuance or complexity were either bastardized or changed so deeply it is as if the writers looked at all these men and thought, “What if we just make them whatever depiction of masculinity we need to depict today?” (R.I.P. the character development and characterization of Jaime Lannister, Sandor Clegane, Stannis Baratheon, Doran Martell, etc.)

Game of Thrones may not have destroyed the legacy of the “difficult men” era, but it showed that just having morally complex characters on paper wasn’t enough. The same inclination to reduce Sansa Stark to a petulant child and remove all of her storylines in seasons two and three, or have Cat Stark give a monologue about cursing her family for not loving Jon Snow, is the same one that leads to Dany burning Kings Landing over bells and Jaime saying he never cared for the people of King’s Landing before running off to die with his sister.

It is bad writing and an even worse understanding of the role character trauma plays in the development of a whole person.

P.S. Team Sansa forever.

(via Comicbook, image: HBO)


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Princess Weekes
Princess (she/her-bisexual) is a Brooklyn born Megan Fox truther, who loves Sailor Moon, mythology, and diversity within sci-fi/fantasy. Still lives in Brooklyn with her over 500 Pokémon that she has Eevee trained into a mighty army. Team Zutara forever.