Sophie Turner turns toughest Game Of Thrones scene into triumph
Game Of Throne star Sophie Turner says she dealt with traumatic scenes by rising from the flames just like Sansa Stark
Sansa Stark, the naive little girl quietly sewing and harbouring princess dreams whom we first met in Season 1, has been one of the most brutalised characters in the hit TV series Game Of Thrones (GOT).
But the former damsel in distress starts the eighth and final season as the Lady of Winterfell, beaten but unbowed, going from pawn to player over the years.
But the tough scenes English actress Sophie Turner had to go through have stayed with her, one in particular when Sansa was raped by Ramsay Bolton, the man she was married to as a political move, with a childhood friend of hers, Theon Greyjoy, forced to watch the act.
That controversial scene has been criticised as one of the most misogynistic and traumatic in the entire show.
The 23-year-old said at our interview at the Mandarin Oriental hotel: "That stayed with me to the point where I felt like I really wanted to team up with some sort of organisation that helped women who had been victims of sex crimes and war crimes.
"I think in the spirit of Sansa, I wanted to rise from the flames and have this awful experience as Sansa does and she kind of comes out on top from it. She has been through a few bad things in her life. But yeah, that Ramsay scene was definitely the biggest one."
It spurred her to become a patron of the charity Women for Women International which works with rape survivors, and she visited Rwanda to talk to victims and document their experiences in a short film.
Since starting her career at age 14 on GOT, Turner is enjoying a thriving future in Hollywood, especially with the upcoming X-Men movie Dark Phoenix, in which she plays the title role while reprising her role as telepathic and telekinetic mutant Jean Grey.
But the end of the show, on which she spent most of her young adult life, has been bittersweet so far.
The day after Season 8's red carpet premiere at Radio City Music Hall on April 3 in New York City, Turner struggled to analyse her feelings.
"I didn't cry last night which I was kind of half expecting to. I don't think I fully realise that it is over. I didn't say any goodbyes to anyone last night because it is too painful, so I will probably just text them at some point and say bye-bye."
GOT premieres on HBO (StarHub TV Ch 601/Singtel TV Ch 420) today at 9am, with a same-day encore at 10pm. It is also available on HBO Go and HBO On Demand.
It naturally has won over lots of celebrity fans, including Turner's good friend and X-Men co-star Jennifer Lawrence, who has bugged her to reveal storylines.
"Yeah, Jen loves the show and she always pesters me for spoilers. But I never give them to her. I know (former US president) Barack Obama watches it and he is a big fan, so that was really cool, meeting him.
Queen Elizabeth is also a fan and actually showed up on set one day.
"It was amazing. I think it was Maisie (Williams), Lena (Headey), myself and Conleth (Hill). And it was in the throne room where she came in and met us. We asked her to sit on it and she said no because she is actually not allowed to sit on any other throne other than her own, which is quite interesting. She just kind of politely said, 'No, thank you'.
"It was so cool to have the real Queen in there. I got goosebumps."
With everything coming up roses in her life right now, including her relationship with fiance Joe Jonas from US pop group Jonas Brothers, Turner worries her good luck will run out.
"I am happy and I am living where I want to live (New York) and with the person I love and it is a good time. But I am sure there will be something bad coming my way, there always is," she said with a laugh.
She is coy about any wedding date but visited India last December to attend soon-to-be sister-in-law and Bollywood star Priyanka Chopra's lavish nuptials to Nick Jonas, Joe's younger brother.
And she has a crazy GOT-related story to go with it.
"So traditionally, at Indian weddings, the bride wears this red gown, so everyone was calling it the Red Wedding."
She is referring to the infamous episode in Season 3 where Sansa's mother and older brother are ambushed and butchered at a blood-soaked wedding.
"But also the location was in a place called Rajasthan, which translates to King's Landing (the capital of the Seven Kingdoms in GOT). So it was a Red Wedding in King's Landing and no one died and it was great."
The writer is the president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, a non-profit organisation of entertainment journalists that also organises the annual Golden Globe Awards.