Sophie Thatcher Has Read Your 'Yellowjackets' Theories

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“When all of us would get our scripts, all of us would be talking, all of us would be sharing our theories.”

<p>Miriam Marlene</p>

Miriam Marlene

Much of the magic behind Yellowjackets’s status as an audience hit and a critical darling is its genius casting — a lightning-in-a-bottle phenomenon exemplified by Sophie Thatcher as Natalie.

Thatcher plays the teenage version of Nat, who’s portrayed in adulthood by Juliette Lewis; she was cast via self-tape before Lewis was, and their dual performances come together for a collaborative tour de force. Following the accolades heaped onto the first season (the show was nominated for five Emmy Awards) as a whole and on her performance specifically, Thatcher says she felt a little more pressure to “keep the spark” going for the second.

“I was just always trying to match the voice and being a little OCD with that,” she says. “I've always had a lower voice, but after leaving season 1, I came back and my voice just lowered completely and I was talking a little bit differently. It's crazy how it stays in you. You gotta, like, shake it off [laughs].”

The actress logs onto Zoom from her L.A. home, where a synth can be spotted behind her — a hint that acting isn’t the only tool in her arsenal. Thatcher grew up in a Chicago suburb and says her mother, a pianist, made sure she and her siblings were well-educated in the arts.

“I feel like I was always drawing, there was a little closet in my bedroom growing up that I would draw on the walls of and get in trouble,” she recalls.

<p>Miriam Marlene</p>

Miriam Marlene

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Music, however, was Thatcher’s “first love,” and she’s toyed around with putting her music on Bandcamp, but hopes to release two of her songs on Spotify soon.

“Acting goes to a very vulnerable place, but it's somebody else's vulnerable place. You are in that character but it's still Natalie's vulnerable place,” she says. “I've gotten better with separating my totally specific vulnerable place to the characters and not getting too personal so that the character stays with me. With music and art, it's just fulfilling different needs and desires. I think it's really important to not just focus on one thing, it really opens you up.”

Beyond that, Thatcher hopes to direct one day, self-deprecatingly acknowledging the cliché that “all actors say that.” Having helped fellow actors with their self-tapes and working with multiple directors on Yellowjackets alone has fueled her interest in working behind the scenes.

“It's given me a lot of input and experience seeing all these female directors on set, and that is just empowering,” she says. “It's like, ‘oh, I can do that.’ It's empowering and it feels a lot more natural and achievable.”

Whether or not she’d direct an episode of Yellowjackets, however, remains to be seen.

“I would, but I know I feel like there's also something about being so close to the character, you're too attached to it in a very specific way and it's a different part of your head that you're using to act,” she muses. “I think it would be too much of a headfuck.”

InStyle talked to the Yellowjackets star about season 2 surprises, Reddit theories, and navigating fandom expectations.

How did it feel to return for this season? How was it different from the first time around filming?
It was different, because there was a level of self-awareness, and [knowing that] people really liked it and people that I admire really liked it.

Within the first week of season 2, we had the Emmys, and seeing and recognizing that people really appreciate our show gave us more drive. There was a beauty within last year, where it was this completely unknown thing, and you could do anything. And the characters felt so — I mean, of course they still feel so close to you — but we didn't know what was going to happen. It felt like a very intimate indie film and now there's a little bit more of a budget.

With everyone loving the show so much, was there a little more pressure coming back this time around? 
Yes. For me, I felt the pressure. I got a lot of positive feedback in the way that me and Juliette [Lewis] matched personality-wise. I know we don't necessarily look that much alike, but hearing that positive feedback was great.

But then sometimes when you hear something positive, it stays in your head and you're like, “Oh god, I have to keep doing this, and I have to, if anything, do it even better,” because I just wanted to keep that spark. And it's hard when you're too self-aware as an actor, so I think I was kind of trying to combat being too self-aware the first two episodes and it was hard because there was more layering, there were more clothes. I'm very much an actor that uses my entire body and rewatching the first season, Juliette is, too, and she's very fluid and natural, she's like a dancer. I noted that for season two and was like, “I want that specific kind of fluid physicality she has.” And I tried that, but I have this tight leather jacket on [in the show], so that was hard.

As we start off season 2, we start to see a rift between Natalie and Lottie. Was that something you saw coming when you were building this character in season 1?
Not really at all, but it definitely makes sense, because they're both leading two different parts of the wilderness. They're both like two different symbols for the wilderness. [Lottie’s] this otherworldly religious person, and she gives everyone else faith. And I’m the practical, I provide food — both are important, because she gives people optimism and something to grasp onto and look forward to, and I mean, give them food [laughs]. So, naturally, I feel like we're both in a very hard position. She's a leader, but I'm a leader in my own sense.

The subject matter of Yellowjackets gets quite dark. Do you have any way of decompressing from the more emotionally draining scenes?
We're lucky in this case where we have a week of shooting, and then usually almost a week off or a couple days off. I would always fly back to L.A. this season and be with my boyfriend, rest a lot.

I think it was harder last year to keep work and personal life separate, because we were all there in quarantine together, and we only had each other. So, it would just be me FaceTiming friends alone in my apartment, and it was sad. It was a lot, but that experience helped shape the reality of the situation and created our dynamic, and it led us into season two really confidently.

I’d always play music in my trailer, dance, shake it off. Sometimes, I FaceTime my boyfriend. We're in a lucky situation, where sometimes it's nice to just fully go through it that week or just go through it in general and stay in that world. But I think with such intense material, it's nice to go back and forth and not just have three straight months of that. I feel like I still don’t know how to fully shut it off, because of course it's still there in your head. We get the scripts like a couple weeks before, so we don't know, and that’s always in the back of your head, but it's been easier to kind of tone it down.

When you’re reading the scripts, are you the kind person who comes up with theories for what happens in the show, or are you content to let it unravel on the page?
I feel like it's pretty natural with this show, it's like a perfect blend of every genre and they're asking for us to come up with theories. Not actually asking us, but I think in the green room, when all of us would get our scripts, all of us would be talking, all of us would be sharing our theories. As soon as somebody sent in the group text, “The script came out,” there was like a spark in the room, and everybody read it at the same time, would go silent for an hour and then everybody would talk about it.

I was on Reddit for a second, but I had to not do that. I think this season, I'm just not going to be as present online, because I was looking on Reddit, trying to find everything that people were saying, and it was just a little OCD, and that's not going to do you any good. It's interesting sometimes to get other inputs, and there's a lot of things that I haven't thought of, but it's important to stick to what you believe is the character, not what other people like, because ultimately, Natalie's in me, not a random Redditor.

<p>Miriam Marlene</p>

Miriam Marlene

Yellowjackets has gained such a passionate following, and you were also in The Book of Boba Fett, which puts you in the center of the Star Wars fandom. How do you navigate fandoms with strong opinions?
It was hard with Star Wars. I definitely felt some backlash, but I knew not to take it personally. And I think that kind of clicked pretty soon, because everybody's going to have an opinion and at the end of the day, if it's not about my acting, then I'm fine. I'm confident in that, I know that's fine — I did what I could have done. It was just, everyone has a say in the Star Wars universe because everyone is so tied to it and emotionally attached to it that these new characters that were introduced, my squad, people were like, ‘Yeah, it's not appropriate for the universe and it should be this way or that way.’

At first I was like, ‘Oh, this is horrifying.’ The first couple nights were a little scary looking at comments, but you just have to not participate and not take it personally, which is really hard. There was a lot of nice stuff too, but it's good to kind of remove yourself to some extent.

Stephen King tweeted about loving Yellowjackets, and now this summer, you’ll be starring in a new Boogeyman movie, which is of course based on his short story, which feels very full-circle. 
I know, I'm just doing all the genre stuff. But I think the genre stuff is so much fun, because it's all of these circumstances that I'll never live through. It's the most heightened circumstances, and it's very world driven, and that's fun to play around with and being immersed in. The Stephen King stuff was a lot darker than I imagined. I know that Yellowjackets is dark, but Yellowjackets is a mixture of so many different genres, and this was strictly horror.

Like you said, you’ve done quite a bit of genre work by now. Is there anything you haven’t done yet that you’d like to put on the bucket list?
I would love to do something lighter, like a comedy. Something so entirely far from me. I’d love to experiment more with accents, like a Southern period piece with an intense Southern drawl. A period piece just aesthetically and costume-wise, again, fulfills that desire of living in a world that I'm never going to live in. But then it's also like, I would love to do something that's more grounded — and I’m not saying that this genre stuff isn't, but something that's just completely naturalistic.

Speaking of costuming, you have such a great sense of personal style, which surely is why you’ve been tapped for Calvin Klein campaigns. What inspires you when it comes to fashion?
I've always been experimenting with fashion. I think it’s very in line with acting and growing up, not feeling entirely comfortable with who you are, just putting on different personas. Since I was younger, I always loved exploring with pretty much anything. I grew up in a weird suburban neighborhood with a twin, so I feel like that already naturally outcast me. So, I was like, ‘There's no chance of me fitting in, so I might as well just dress up a little bit.’

Influence wise, if I were to like name references, I feel like it would be like Charlotte Gainsbourg, always. There's this band, Blonde Redhead, that I love and am influenced by that style and whatever the music feels like. Natassja Kinski, Parker Posey. Very eclectic style that doesn't seem too thought-out and it looks very just personal.

I want to experiment more with that, because I feel like I have such a specific personal style, and recently going out on the red carpet, it's been not always me — but I'm figuring it out. I feel I want it to feel more personal, and when you look at an image of me, like immediately you can just tell because like I know what I like. Doing these events and keeping it professional, but then trying to also incorporate your own style into it. I think I'm figuring that out a little bit more and with more experience I'm starting to care a little bit less, and I think that's good.

Small Talk

Do you believe in astrology?
I do. I used to not but now I do, because I'm just surrounded by it all the time. I'm a Libra and I see that double Libra [in me]. Libra Rising, Libra, sun, rising Cancer. And then Scorpio Venus.

What was your last binge-watch?
I've been watching a lot of reality TV. I shouldn't be saying this, because it's not a prideful watch: Too Hot to Handle. Love is Blind. Everybody in Yellowjackets was watching Love Is Blind.

Who was your very first celebrity crush?
Mark Ruffalo. Mark Ruffalo always, he kind of defined my type.

What is one book that you could read over and over again?
Anything by Eve Babitz. I was living in New York reading her, and it created this allure that I'd never thought about with L.A.

What do you wish more people knew about you?
I feel like everybody knows I have a twin. This is so corny, but I think I'm really trying to put my twin [Ellie] out there, because I think they're the most talented person. They make Claymations everybody should watch — they did this new video for Avey Tare, the guy from Animal Collective and I love his music, and the video's fantastic.

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