PopCulture and Vogue Australia interviews

Sophia was interviewed by PopCulture and Vogue Australia about her upcoming Netflix show “I Am Not Okay With This”.

PopCulture: ‘I Am Not Okay With This’ Co-Stars Sophia Lillis and Wyatt Oleff Reveal What Went Into Their ‘It’ Reunion (Exclusive)

It co-stars Sophia Lillis and Wyatt Oleff may have ditched the creepy clown in I Am Not Okay With This, but they’ve kept a dynamic on and off-screen that made them a perfect fit for the upcoming Netflix series.

From the people behind hit shows Stranger Things and The End of the F—king World, Lillis and Oleff star in the “irreverent origin story” of teenage girl Sydney (Lillis) trying to juggle her relationships with friends like Stanley (Oleff) and mysterious superpowers. Dropping on Netflix Feb. 26 and also starring Sofia Bryant (The Good Wife), Kathleen Rose Perkins (Episodes), Aidan Wojtak-Hissong (Falling Water) and Richard Ellis, the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-filmed series was developed from a graphic novel by the same name by Charles Forsman.

Lillis told PopCulture. com on a visit to set that having Oleff with her on this new project has been a bit of a comfort as she made her way through the filming of the first season.

“It’s been fun. I love him so much, and I feel like it’s always good to get to know people,” Lillis said. “That’s kind of the whole thing in acting with new projects. In new projects, you get to know more people and expand, but it’s also really nice to have someone you know so you don’t have to go [in alone], even though I love it.”

Reflecting on his relationship with Lillis from It’s first iteration to It Chapter Two, Oleff revealed that the two really bonded when they had more one-on-one time doing press for the Stephen King novel’s film the first time around due to the pure number of people on set during the actual filming. When Lillis was cast as Syd in I Am Not Okay With This, producers immediately noticed their real-life friendship and chemistry on and off-screen and immediately knew they had found their Stanley.

Dipping into the dynamic between Syd and Stanley, Oleff felt a certain kinship to his character, whom he built by drawing on John Cryer’s iconic Pretty in Pink character, Ducky.

“How my character relates to Stan and Syd’s kind of dynamic is just like, in real life, it’s kind of my duty to annoy her,” Oleff admitted. “Stan does it anyway, but he doesn’t mean to, but he does it. And it’s not on purpose or anything, but after a bit, she’s just kind of like, ‘Ugh,’ in the best way possible. She still views him as a nice friend, but just some stuff he does, just some little quirks he has, just make her a little annoyed.”

I Am Not Okay With This comes to Netflix on Feb. 26.

Vogue Australia: Rising star Sophia Lillis on Netflix’s new sci-fi drama I Am Not Okay with This

At 17, Sophia Lillis has achieved more than many actresses twice her age. She came to prominence as Beverly in the 2017 horror It and 2019 sequel It: Chapter Two, in which Jessica Chastain plays her as an adult. She also appeared as the younger version of Amy Adams’s character in the HBO thriller Sharp Objects and the titular sleuth in Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase. Her next project is darker still: a supernatural Netflix series in which she stars as Sydney, a teen struggling with anxiety, rage and familial grief. Ahead of the show’s premiere on February 26, we meet Lillis to discuss filmmaker John Hughes, graphic novels and the golden age of complex high-school dramas.

I Am Not Okay with This is both a black comedy and a sci-fi drama. How would you describe it?
“Essentially, it’s about a high schooler trying to overcome the usual hurdles, juggling problems at school and at home. Then, she figures out that she has super powers which reveal themselves when she gets emotional or angry. She’s pretty angsty so it’s really not a good mix.”

It’s also about Sydney’s relationship with her friends Dina [Sofia Bryant] and Stanley [Wyatt Oleff], who you worked with on It and It: Chapter Two. What was the casting process like?
“I auditioned, got a callback and got onto the project early. That meant I could do read-throughs with other actors, including for the Stanley and Dina roles. I got lucky because Sofia is great. While doing read-throughs, we talked in between and she was so sweet and funny. I feel like the casting people clocked that. Plus, I’m so happy I got to work with my friend Wyatt. Sydney and Stanley need to have good chemistry because they are so close, so having him in that role was amazing.”

Were you a fan of Charles Forsman’s graphic novel which I Am Not Okay with This is based on?
“I’d heard of it before I joined the project because I’d watched The End of the Fucking World [the show based on another Forsman graphic novel and created by I Am Not Okay with This’s director, Jonathan Entwistle]. Then, I went back and read both novels. I Am Not Okay with This is tricky to adapt because you have to balance the darkness and the humour. Jonathan is great at that.”

What were the biggest challenges when it came to playing Sydney?
“She thinks of herself as almost dysfunctional, but in reality she’s dealing with it all rather well. She is overwhelmed by her problems, so she shuts down and is in denial for most of the series. She’s also very awkward which makes her relatable. You can see she’s trying to do her best, trying to control her emotions, trying to live a normal life, but not everything goes her way.”

Sydney’s breakdowns are so intense and often difficult to watch. Were they exhausting to film?
“I think it’s so much harder for the crew than it is for me! When Syd’s having a breakdown and her powers make the wall crack open, the crew are the people who have to make sure the cracks open right on time and that all of it looks real. I’m just there acting and watching them work [laughs].”

The show is packed with pop-culture references. What did Entwistle share with you in advance?
“Jonathan said he wanted to add a John Hughes element to the show, so I watched Pretty in Pink, Sixteen Candles and The Breakfast Club. I also watched some [Italian film actress] Giulietta Masina films. Jonathan didn’t ask me to, but I like to watch her before starting any project. She’s my childhood favourite.”

Complex, and sometimes dark, high-school dramas have dominated TV for the past few months – from Stranger Things and Sex Education to Euphoria. Why have they been so popular?
“I’ve seen bits of those shows, though I haven’t watched Euphoria yet. My friends keep telling me that I have to watch it. What I like about them, especially Stranger Things, is that they show kids actually playing their own age. I Am Not Okay With This does that too. It means there’s less of a disconnect, because as a kid watching the show you can actually see yourself in the characters. It’s so different from seeing a 25-year-old playing a 17-year-old. I used to watch high-school shows when I was in middle school and I would think, ‘I’m supposed to look like that and act like that when I’m older’. When I finally got to high school I thought, ‘Oh god, what happened?’ [laughs]. These shows feel more authentic, more real – except, of course, I don’t have super powers.”

The show also focuses on Sydney grappling with her own sexuality. Why was that important?
“It’s something so many kids go through in that period of their life. It’s a time when you’re trying to figure out who you are, so I think it needs to be in there and we need to talk about it.”

Will there be a second season of I Am Not Okay with This?
“I sure hope so! Besides that, I’ve got a few other things coming out: [the fantasy horror] Gretel & Hansel and [a comedy called] Uncle Frank. Last year I went from working on one thing straight into another and now it’s all coming out at once, so that’s really fun to see. After that, I have another project coming up, but I’m not sure how much I can say on the topic just yet – but it’s a Western!”

I Am Not Okay With This is on Netflix from February 26, 2020.

Posted by Veronique on February 14th, 2020
Articles & Interviews - I Am Not Okay With This
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