The long-awaited film Innocence, based on Jane Mendelsohn’s novel of the same name, is finally hitting theaters tomorrow September 5th, and Teens Wanna Know was able to ask a few questions of its teen star Sophie Curtis.
First, for those unfamiliar with the premise of the story, let’s cover the synopsis from the official press release:
Haunted by the death and dreams of her beloved mother in a Montauk surfing accident, 16 year old Beckett (Sophie Curtis) and her father, novelist Miles Warner (Linus Roache), move to Manhattan and attempt to piece together their shattered life. Now enrolled at the exclusive Hamilton preparatory school, her psychosis and hallucinations intensify with the dubious suicides of current and past students as does her first love for Tobey Crawford (Graham Phillips). The discovery that her new school may be run by a coven of beautiful and seductive women who perpetuate their youth by drinking the blood of virgins becomes the ultimate challenge of Beckett and Tobey’s young lives. INNOCENCE is a chilling allegory of the precarious state of an American teenager, explores themes of loss, the human condition and a society torn between purity and narcissism.
Now, let’s meet Sophie:
First…let’s get the uber-obvious question out of the way: Can you tell us about “Innocence” and your role in the movie?
Innocence tells a story of a young teenager who’s basically coming to terms and struggling with the loss of her mother and just trying to find her place in a new city, new school, new world trying to make means in this unfamiliar society, and on top of all that she is thrown this kind of curve ball where is she is now surrounded by this threat of this group of witches. And throughout the film you watch her character completely unfold as she tries to make sense of everything and as she ultimately has to make the choice of whether she should believe in what every fiber of her being tells her to or to believe what everybody else does and what everybody else is telling you to. And I think its those kind of decisions that make a person who they are, and will allow the audience of this film to see Beckett for who she truly is.
I mean Innocence is a coming-of-age film really in the sense that it takes place in this hyper setting that kind of exaggerates the extremities that teens and women over all go through. It gets across these everyday emotions by creating this channel for it. You know by taking these everyday experiences being presented in this exaggerated setting, kind of fantastical, with witches and eternal life it just allows you…it allows people to almost better understand what those emotions really are.
Thanks. With that taken care of…how did you feel when the movie first screened (at AFF I believe?). Was the reaction what you expected?
Austin was super awesome, I had my whole family there. It was my birthday and to go and see all these people waiting in line to see Innocence was just a really weird but great experience. I think my favorite part of festivals is the Q&A, and to see people ask these really insightful questions just kinda showed that they dug deeper into the story and were responding to the themes and the performances. It’s just to see peoples’ interest and to see them being into it was the best response I could’ve asked for.
Tell me some nice things about your co-stars and director.
The cast on this film, along with the crew, were truly special and for it being my first lead role I couldn’t have asked for better people to share that experience with. In past projects, I played more of supporting roles so my main purpose was to help move the story along by helping the main characters develop their identities, whereas in this film my costars we’re helping me create my story — really Beckett’s story.
You know, when you’re working with more established actors than you, you get to see an interesting side to them, a more vulnerable side to them where they understand where you are in your career, because everyone has to start somewhere, and they help you and act not only as friends and costars but as mentors, and that was a really big part of this film because like I said it was my first leading role and having them there to guide me but still allowing it to be my story was something I really treasured.
Another thing that I know was really important to Hilary Brougher, the director, was that the kids were the actual age that we’re playing which served as a common denominator and it ended up that a lot of the moments picked up on film are just us fooling around having fun.
What is the craziest thing that happened on set?
I remember we were filming the subway scene I was in with Sarah Sutherland, who plays my best friend Jen, and we had one chance to get it done before the day finished. So we ran throughout the subway with one camera, and we’re basically filming blindly because there was no screen to watch it on and it was just thrilling.
Also running in the middle of the night through the park, there was always rats crawling over my feet, but I guess that just made me run faster haha.
Did you get creeped out when you watched Innocence or are you a tough cookie? : )
I’m honestly more curious than I am creeped out, I’ll watch pretty much anything and when I do watch horror movies I’m usually more focused on why these people are doing what they’re doing. And also I don’t really know if I would necessarily call Innocence a horror movie — it’s more about a girl facing all these problems and there just happens to be some bloodsucking witches haha!
But as for horror movies, I think yea — I’m a pretty tough cookie.
Do you like horror movies? If so, what’s your favorite one?
Yes, I do. For horror movies I love going back to the source of it. The idea of creating these stories to scare people and the underlying messages are just really interesting. So usually I look back to Bram Stoker’s Dracula, where again it’s this idea of a kind of supernatural love story, with a normal girl who is trapped in this hyper reality.
What’s your favorite movie in general?
Favorites are too hard. I love all Stanley Kubrick films though.
If you could do something in life, without any fear of failure and knowing that you would succeed 100% guaranteed, what would it be?
Travel around the world by foot. Or be best friends with a killer shark.
What advice do you have for teenagers out there who might be having trouble coping with this sometimes scary world called Planet Earth?
Keep cool under pressure. When you’re up against something that seems unbearable, you have to just breathe and look forward. Staying cool under pressure is what shows real strength and I’m learning to do it more and more everyday.
Anything else you would like our teen audience to know?
Everybody has some weird cork about them, learn to use it as your biggest strength and don’t let anyone try and bring you down about it. Beckett is a real teenager despite everything, and I am a real teenager, and I understand how hard it can be. Just find something to channel all that energy into and don’t let these small things that seem so big now get to you, because in the end, the only thing that has worth is yourself.
We ask everyone for a selfie of whatever they are doing right now. Its just a thing we do. Could you please send us one? You can stick out your tongue, make a peace sign, pretend to be asleep, kiss your pet…we don’t care!
Haha, great pic Sophie!
Directed by: Hilary Brougher
Screenplay by: Hilary Brougher and Tristine Skyler
Based on the Novel by: Jane Mendelsohn
Produced by: Jane Mendelsohn, Christine Vachon, Pam Koffler
Executive produced by: Ron Curtis, Kevin Turen, Nicholas Jarecki, Michael Heller, Mo Al Turki and Brian Young
Starring: Kelly Reilly, Sophie Curtis, Graham Phillips and Linus Roche
Running Time: 96 minutes