Exclusive Interview With Sophie Nelisse


Hollywood News Source had the chance to ask Sophie Nelisse about her role in The Great Gilly Hopkins. Read about it below!


Gilly is such a complex character with a lot of flaws, but deep down she has a good heart. What was it like to play such a troubled character? 

Playing Gilly was really fun because first of all since she’s quite different from what I am and how I was brought up. It was fun to be able to be rude to people at times since I’m not allowed to be like that in real life! She is also a little bit of a tomboy as I’m not at all. Gilly can be mean but we had to see that it was only a result of not feeling loved. So, I had to show that Gilly has a heart and is able to care for people, so, being able to play both at the same time ( the good and the bad girl) was something I had never played before and was interesting to do.

What was it like working with a cast like Kathy Bates, Julia Stiles and Octavia Spencer? As a viewer, it’s clear that the chemistry between you and those actors was realistic. 

 Playing with such a great cast was amazing because I got to learn from all these actresses in different ways. They all had something different to bring to the table and just being able to be there beside them and act was an honor. It was a learning experience and I mostly got to meet nice people.

In what ways, if any, are you most like Gilly? 

I think I sometimes I can be a bit hard to approach as I don’t let a lot of people in my bubble. I mean I talk to everybody and don’t walk away but, I’m so often surrounded that I do like to have my space. Once I care about someone though, like Gilly, if I can do something to help them out, I will take care of them.

As the movie progresses, Gilly has a sudden change of heart. Her sass is still evident, but we see the bond she starts to share with W.E and Trotter. Do you think they’re the reason for cracking her steel exterior or something else? 

I think Gilly was never used to having people care for her which is why she changes so much when she meets Trotter and WE. She realizes what it’s like to have a family and people who actually want her in their lives. She then develops a soft spot for them and will want to take care of them like they took care of her and I think that’s when you see who Gilly really is.

There are some pretty intense and emotional scenes in the movie. Was there one in particular that was hard to film? 

I think the last scene when she learns that she has to change foster homes, and she goes to live with a grandmother she’s doesn’t know. That scene was the hardest to play because she had to switch from being really happy at the beginning of the scene to becoming very sad in a short period of time. I don’t find it hard to cry when I have a few seconds to get there and the scene allows for it to be played out gradually or prepping before the take but, going from laughing to tears within seconds, like in this case, was more challenging than just all out crying.

What has this movie taught you overall? 

It has such a meaningful message that you can find a family in the most unlikely places. This movie has taught me so many great messages that first of all not all kids have it that easy and that I’m lucky to have the life that I have. Also, I got to live some personal experience by doing the movie like meeting Clare Foley. We have since become close and her family treats me and my family like part of theirs; so, in a way as Gilly made a new family, I made a second one. Also, being one of the “in” kids in school I kind of learnt what it’s like to be the one on the outside. It’s not always that easy to fit in but, all of us have our little secrets and differences. It made me make sure not to be mean to people that are not part of the group because they all have their reasons and maybe instead of judging them, we should start helping them fit in.


Finally, just a fun question! This movie was full of amazing actors and actresses. Was there one that you fangirled over when you meet them? 

To be honest, I’m not the type of girl to be intimidated by other actors. I was happy to meet all of them and the one I grew closest to was Clare. I mean, I did a video star that Octavia participated in, and I had opportunity to meet Cathy in LA months before filming and it was great to know she spoke French very well and my mom had told me how talented she was and we had then watched some of her movies so, I got to see how great she really is. Julia and I went to watch Billy on a day off because he plays music in a band. And, Glenn opened up her home to my brother, my sister, my mother and I, she introduced us to sky lanterns and my mom and her watched the Montreal Canadians versus New York during the playoffs that year….mmmm I bet you can guess who we were rooting for. So, it was an honor to play with them and be part of their lives and I believe I found a little chemistry with each of them.

The Great Gilly Hopkins will be in theatres and on demand October 7!