It’s hard to imagine that when actress Sophie Turner first started portraying Sansa Stark on Game of Thrones, she was just 13 years old. Since then, she (Sansa, that is) has fallen for and escaped from a sociopathic king, experienced countless horrors at the hands of men in power, and, at the end of the most recent season, finally experienced a Winterfell homecoming with her brother and sister. Her storyline might not bear any semblance to Turner’s actual life (thankfully), but the arc of an innocent, shy young girl becoming an empowered woman certainly feels reflective of Turner’s own real journey in Hollywood.
When I catch up with her at an event celebrating her new partnership with Wella Professionals, she’s a bright, buttery blonde—a look which often surprises fans who associate her with Sansa’s fiery red strands, even though the former is her natural hair color. “There’s blonde Sophie and redhead Sophie,” she says with a shrug. “They’re both me.”
In person, Turner (now 22) is every bit as striking as you’d imagine, with green-blue eyes, an easy smile, and a warm, open demeanor (we compliment each other’s shoes immediately upon meeting)—a far cry from the shy 13-year-old thrust into the spotlight eight years ago. In the 15 minutes that we speak, it quickly becomes clear that, like Sansa, Turner has navigated the pressures and tribulations that come with spending your formative years in the spotlight, emerging as a confident woman who values the importance of genuine relationships and lots of family time.
As for what’s next for Sansa, Turner’s lips are sealed, but she is open to divulging her own beauty secrets, which you’ll find below.
You’re a natural blonde, but you’re known as a redhead because of your role as Sansa. What was the transformation like?
I was 13 when I dyed my hair red for Game of Thrones. It’s been nine years now. It’s bizarre. Initially, it was such a shock. No one dyes their hair that young—it was such an extreme change. At first, I was kind of shy about it. But as the years went on, I actually think the character helped me embrace the red. Our stories kind of paralleled each other. I felt vulnerable and shy with the red hair, and as her character gained strength and power, I gained strength and power in owning the red hair.
Now I associate red hair with power. I feel very empowered to be a redhead and I love it.
How do you adjust your beauty look and style as a redhead vs. blonde?
It’s an adjustment between blonde and red because as a redhead, in terms of style, I always felt like I wanted to style red as very classic. I would want to do Veronica Lake waves. With blonde, all of sudden, I was like, I want to play it cool-girl and more effortless. As a redhead, I could wear a lot more white, but now because I’m so pale and have blonde hair, I want to put more color into my wardrobe.
Is there a hair color you’d never try?
No. I would try anything. I think it’s because I have these dark eyebrows, I feel like I can try most colors. Now that I’m associated with Wella and I work with Wella Professionals, I know if I needed to change my hair in any way, it would keep it in such good condition. It almost gives me leeway to do what I want with my hair. I love the Wellaplex and Fusionplex. Because I dyed my hair so much and changed it and curled it and styled it, the Wellaplex really helps repair the bonds in your hair to keep it healthy and strong.
I use it all the time. And the Fusionplex is the same, but the take-home version: a shampoo, conditioner, and mask. Wellaplex is an in-salon service.
Do you feel more “you” as a blonde?
It’s interesting. They’re two different “mes.” Definitely when I went back to blonde the first time, I was like, I felt like my 13-year-old self before I dyed my hair red. It just felt at home to me. I felt young again.
What’s your most memorable hair emergency?
I remember when I was 5 or 6, and my mom had left this pot of Vaseline by my bed, and I looked at it and thought, It’s going down. So I just grabbed the Vaseline and put it all over my hair. I think I was just like, What does this feel like? So I put it all over my hair, and my mom came in to say goodnight to me and I was lying in bed with an empty tub of Vaseline next to me. And it took so long to wash out. I wish I’d had Wella back then.
What are some skincare products you love?
Right now, I’ve been using a lot of Charlotte Tilbury. I use her Magic Night Cream ($145) and the Magic Eye Cream ($60). Those are the two things I swear by. They’re amazing. For the under-eye balm, I suffer from lack of sleep a lot, so I have dark circles, and I literally put it on and it changes my face.
You and Maisie Williams are close friends. Why do you think female friendships are so important right now, especially in this day and age?
I think especially in this industry, it’s so important. To have a friend who knows what you’re going through in the industry and just understands. But also I’ve found not just Maisie but a lot of the bonds I’ve made with women in this industry have been really priceless. For instance, I just did a movie with Jessica Chastain, and I’ve spoken with her at length about other projects I do and being open about pay and she encourages me. She’ll be like, “You need to go and get the same amount of money as this guy.” She puts me in touch with the right people.
It inspires me to go out and connect with other young people or whoever is just coming into the industry. Because of this power play that has been happening in the past, the only people that you really feel like you can go to are other women about these kinds of things. With Maisie, growing up together in the industry, and there are things like social media during your formative years, and people are criticizing every little thing. You’re like, of course I have fucking spots! I’m 14, and my hormones are all over the place.
Having a friend who supports you and knows what you’re going through is really important to me. It’s important to keep those relationships.
What’s one thing you do every day to take care of your mental health?
Honestly, I tried meditation for a while and really liked it, but I just couldn’t keep it up. It’s really hard! Mostly, it’s FaceTiming my mom or my boyfriend or my friends just to check in every day. Especially with Maisie, when we check in, we go, “How are you doing? Are you okay?” We have those conversations just making sure mentally, we’re fine. I do that a lot with my friends and family.