Sophia Lillis leads an unusual life, but that’s not what she’ll tell you. Sure, the 21-year-old rose to fame at just 15 years of age in cult horror obsession It, then followed her breakout role with a slew of film and TV appearances from Sharp Objects to this year’s Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, but the Brooklyn born actress isn’t one for showing off. “I always felt like I had to set something up for my job in the future,” she explains, spilling her art school dreams in interviews as a teenager when her career hovered in a lockdown-induced stand- still. “After It, I started realizing that this was a job I could keep doing.” But life isn’t ever so simple.
Before she was known as the discernable face of countless onscreen heroines—the “voice of reason,” as she calls them—or an adolescent star wondering if her fantasy life was here to stay, Sophia was a natural performer, jumping on camera any chance she got. From drama school to NYU student projects, she bounced between short films before landing her first major role in 2017. But just three years later, COVID had her trapped. “I don’t know how long I can do this,” she remembers thinking. Was this the end of an era, or the calm before a perfect storm?
If the answer wasn’t abundantly clear, (Sophia now sits with us on a Zoom call from Paris where she’s finishing up a press tour, amply proving the latter,) her upcoming projects prove she’s far from a finale. For someone whose niche falls somewhere between being drenched in fake blood and turning into an animal, taking on new identities is something the actress has mastered. “The main thing that’s important for getting into a role is communication,” she explains. “Being open to asking questions and figuring out what I need to learn.” For Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, that receptiveness earned her a guise of prosthetic ears and magnetic horns to play druid Doric. This summer, you’ll see Sophia in a change of pace, amongst the stargazers of Wes Anderson’s latest cinematic release, Asteroid City, and alongside Michael Cera in The Adults.
But despite her coveted resume, worldly travels, and everything else that comes with impending mega-fame, Sophia doesn’t consider her journey abnormal at all. “I grew up different from people who weren’t in the industry, but you could say that about anything,” she says. “Everyone goes off onto separate paths, and each of us has strengths and weaknesses that distinguish us from everyone else.” While that might be fact, her audience can’t shy away from another, more ubiquitous truth. If Sophia won’t be the one to call it, we will. Rare is the moment that talent strikes with a force that leaves no doubt its possessor will emerge through each evolving cultural cycle with success. Well, without further ado, here is one of them. Sophia Lillis has done it once, and we’ll be watching when she does it again.
Asteroid City premieres in theaters on June 16, 2023.
Photography Dennis Leupold
Fashion Christopher Campbell
Makeup Rob Rumsey (A-Frame)
Hair Patricia Morales (The Visionaries)
Executive producer Johnny Pascucci (Photobomb)
Production coordinator Merry Nestor (Photobomb)
Photo assistant Charles Brown
Stylist assistant Alexis Kossel
Make up assistant Gabriela Vega
Hair assistants Jessica Arriaga, Luna Vela
Location Dust Studios