Sofia Wylie is best known as a staple of Disney Channel for the younger half of Gen Z in franchises like Andi Mack and High School Musical: The Musical: The Series. She is now expanding her filmography with non-Disney properties, the first project being a Netflix original fantasy film the School of Good and Evil. Sofia leads the film, playing Agatha, a misfit fish out of water attending an enchanted school balancing the forces of good and evil. LADYGUNN caught up with Wylie to discuss the film.
How do you feel about the career jump from Disney properties to the School of Good and Evil?
It’s been really exciting getting to do something different outside of Disney, like the School of Good and Evil. It was different from anything I had done before. It’s much darker
It’s a fantasy. Fantasy is my favorite genre too, which is exciting. There were a lot of challenges filming a fantasy movie that I wasn’t prepared for and really helped me grow as an actress. I’m so excited for people to see the film and for more films possibly.
What drew you to the role of Agatha?
I found her complexity and her realism so interesting. In the past, we’ve seen princesses represented in a specific way. Whereas now, we’re able to see a princess who does not look or act like a princess we’ve seen in the past. I think that’s really cool because as human beings that’s how we are. We’re not one-dimensional. We’re all so different. To be able to see that in a fantasy setting, adds a lot of reality and groundedness. Agatha is the voice of the audience, as you watch the movie, wondering why a character is making a decision or why someone is acting this way. Agatha will literally point it out. It’s fun being a part of a movie and also being a part of the audience too and giving a voice to them.
After doing School of Good and Evil, do you want to do more genre work? What kind of projects are you interested in for the future?
I would love to do more fantasy. I’m a big book nerd and fantasy is my favorite genre to read. To be able to incorporate that into my daily work is truly a fantasy, no pun intended.
I’d also love to explore the sci-fi realm, or mystery, thrillers, and period dramas. There are a lot of passions that I have in different genres that I’d love to explore. If that ends up being fantasy next again then I would love that but if it’s something else, I’m down to try that too.
Did you have a relationship with the novel beforehand?
I had a meeting about the film and they were giving me the breakdown. I was like, “This sounds so similar to something that I’ve possibly read before. But, I don’t know. After the meeting, I ran to my Goodreads account and typed in the School of Good and Evil. I put it on my to-read list. I had been planning on reading it because I had read the summary and really liked it. I was ten times more excited about auditioning for the movie because without having any preconceived idea that I would play this character, I wanted to read this book. When we were starting pre-production I read the first book because I wanted to see what Agatha was like in the books and what the readers were possibly expecting from her. But, I didn’t read the other books because there are so many changes in the movie. I didn’t want to confuse myself with what Agtha was going to do in the future, considering there are a lot of changes already. I read the first book, it’s wonderful and I’m excited to read more if we possibly do more movies.
What was your preparation for the film like considering there are so many fairy tales woven into the story?
Reading the book was a huge part of my preparation, but also having to differentiate between my version of Agatha and the version other people made in their heads. A big hurdle of mine was taking the Agatha that I read in the books and acknowledging that but realizing I have to make it my own. I have to make it a character that people will want to root for while giving justice to the way that the character is written.
I also had to really use my imagination because the special effects and magical moments in the film aren’t real while you’re filming it. They’re completely fake. To realize that I have to find that child-like imagination within myself in order to make this feel real to the audience and myself as well.
I did a lot of meetings with the wardrobe, hair, and makeup departments. It was a lot, but it was so much fun.
Was this your first time working with special effects?
It was my first time working with special effects of that caliber. I remember one specific day I was on set during the wish fish scene, where Agatha is being pulled into the lake by the wish fish. This huge boney bird thing comes at Agatha. While we’re there on set, it’s just this dude in a green suit. That’s what I’m having to act with. I remember after rehearsal going up to my parents and being like, “Yo, I don’t know how I’m about to do this.” When I read the script I imagined myself acting with this huge boney bird thing and it would be scary. It wasn’t scary at all because I knew this man in a green suit. I realized this is different. I have to find my imagination and fully immerse myself in it for this to be good. After that day I had more magical moments pretending like what I was seeing was actually there. It was a huge test for me as an actor.
What was it like working with legendary actors including Kerry Washington, Michele Yeoh, Charlize Theron, and Laurence Fishburne?
I was really able to learn from each of those amazing actors that you mentioned by watching them. The biggest lessons that I learned were through their actions and the way that they held themselves on set, especially Kerry Washington, a lot of my scenes were with her. I got to be on set with her a lot. The way she held herself with such respect for herself and her own work, but also such respect for everyone else. She’s also such a good actor so getting to see her mannerisms and the different choices that she would make was astonishing. It was the best masterclass that I’ve ever been a part of because she wasn’t trying to teach me anything, it’s just that what she was doing was teaching me so much about the kind of actor I want to be. Through observation, I was able to learn a lot.
Story: Michael-Michelle Pratt // Photos: Raen Badua
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