Last week, Sophie Kennedy Clark’s new film Obey (2018) took part in the annual 72nd Edinburgh International Film Festival. The film has received rave reviews and had a warm reception at EIFF.
Clark plays the beautifully endearing yet slightly head-in-the-clouds, Twiggy. In the film, Twiggy is temporarily squatting to justify her on and off again activist lifestyle. However, it is rather subtly made aware that Twiggy can return home to the ‘burbs at any point, should she so wish. Whereas, Leon, the lead and Twiggy’s newfound curious love interest, has no way of escaping the place they have both found themselves in. Set against the restless backdrop of the London 2011 riots, the character, Twiggy, is used to highlight the uncanny jumble of different classes and communities in the gentrified area of East London.
We were able to sit down with Clark and pick her brain about her early career, the film, and how she prepares for difficult scenes.
Securing the role of Twiggy
“Having a creative bug is something no medication will solve”
So, Clark left her rural life in Scotland to pursue her creative outlet (acting) in the London. However, it’s not as simple as it sounds, as we all know (all too well).
“It’s a real chicken and egg situation – You can’t get the agent without the job and you can’t get the job without the agent”
Regardless, without going to Drama School, Clark made it. But, it wasn’t without hard graft. Nine years later Clark has appeared in Philomena, Nymphomaniac, Black Mirror and now, Obey. Clark remarked that when she first heard about the role of Twiggy, she was sunning it up on holiday. Despite this, she was decided on getting the role.
“Nah, this role’s mine.”
To explain her rather spontaneous actions of flying back from her holiday for just eight hours, she commented on the importance of actually being in the room for a casting. Self-tapes are fine, sure, and necessary for when you want to be put forward for films in America etc. However, Clark knew that to fully ensure her role, she would have to make a memorable impression.
“The connection you forge with casting directors and the impression you can make just by being in the room is so much more than just putting yourself down on tape”
Once it was confirmed that Clark had landed the role of Twiggy, she set out to establish a collaborative process with the director (Jamie Jones).
“You want there to be a discussion like if you want to change a line you should feel comfortable doing that. You shouldn’t feel as though someone is just telling you what to do, you know, you’re giving something over to them and they should to you as well.”
We were keen to find out more about why Clark was so drawn to Twiggy. The answer seemed to lie within the fact that Twiggy was rather close to home for Clark – “I’m not adverse to the odd squat rave” she giggled. It turned out that Clark was actually living in East London during the 2011 riots and was wrapped up in the social turmoil of that time. Not only that be she mentions being a part of the “that world” which seemingly referred to Twiggy’s sphere of edgy, gentrified squats. So it was no surprise that Clark felt as though she needed to secure this role.
Despite the film shedding light on two very different communities, classes and the way in which youth culture intertwines the two – Clark makes the point that Jamie Jones refrains from pointing the finger. Even when it came to the riot scenes, we get a glimpse of a hurt policeman slumped on the floor being fed water, despite being aligned with Leon’s crew and the rioters throughout.
How to prepare for a difficult scene
In Obey, Clark has one particular scene the requires a fleeting moment of powerful emotion- a strange mix of anger, fear, and confusion. In the past, Clark has also played the difficult role of young Philomena and had a scene in which she loses her child, arguably the worst thing that can happen to someone. It’s safe to say that Clark is no stranger to a difficult scene.
“Instead of feeling anxious about it, I’ve always felt that as people we all have our own traumas and troubles. But, if you can take those and use them as like a toolkit and actually find it empowering to use those things and give across to an art form, like acting – then you no longer view them as anything like a paint box”
If Clark’s point about the ‘chicken & egg’ situation that a lot of actors find themselves in – check out our courses. They aim to bridge the gap between education and employment, giving you a chance to get you known to casting directors without having years of experience.