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5 Questions with Sophie Nélisse of The Great Gilly Hopkins

The Great Gilly Hopkins comes to VOD and DVD from Search Engine Pictures on December 13th, a movie that was filmed over three years ago, but makes a perfect gift for the holidays. We sat down with actress Sophie Nélisse on the phone from Montreal where she was in the middle of a photo shoot. It has been quite a year for Nélisse whose film Mean Dreams debuted at Cannes and played at TIFF and was selected as one of Canada’s Top Ten. She was also personally selected as TIFF Rising Star in conjunction with Mean Dreams. Here is an edited version of our conversation.

Scene Creek: What was your experience like as a TIFF Rising Star?

Sophie Nélisse: That was honestly very fun. This year was so much fun because I was able to do it with Mylène MacKay, my friend from Endorphine. She’s so great. I love her so much, we’re like sisters. So it was fun to do it together and spend some time with her and it was a really lovely experience because all the people who were Rising Stars with me were so nice and so fun. It was great to share the experience with them and I got to meet some amazing people, directors, producers, it was very enriching to get a bit more known.

SC: It must have been great to bring Mean Dreams to Cannes. 

SN: It obviously was, because I was not expecting it to go that far. It was such a small-budget movie, and such a small crew. So we were just doing our best every day. When I found out that it was going to Cannes, I was so excited. Presenting it at Cannes was incredible because everyone was there, like all the crew members, and my friends, and I got to see the movie for the first time all together, so it was obviously an amazing experience. It was very overwhelming. It felt far away to be honest doing that movie, in a little town, with a small population, in my own little space, so I felt hundreds of miles away from home. The art of acting is being able to create cities in other places, or acting in front of a green screen, that is the fun of the job.

SC: You’re also taking on quite a few non-French roles…

SN: Yeah, I’m trying to lose the accent. Some people say that it’s still a little bit there. When I’m in Montréal, it tends to come out a lot more because here I speak French, then when I go to the States, I quickly start to take the accent over there and completely lose it so it’s not that much of a problem.

SC: You have quite a fan base as well!

SN: They’re kind of all around the world, and the comments are like in Chinese, which is very interesting. It is so much fun to see the people appreciate work and are still watching movies that I did like five years ago, which is amazing and they write to me. I just love them so much, and I am so thankful for the support, but I find it hard to deal with that kind of stuff because I am not always sure how to react. I don’t know should write back, or if I don’t write back to everyone, because sometimes I don’t have time. But it’s fun, it’s really fun, but sometimes if I don’t have a role at the time, I get to see all of these comments and it cheers me up often. I try to be as authentic and realistic as possible on social media. I don’t really post pictures of me with make-up, I don’t really stage anything, I don’t post too much personal stuff, so they get to see the real me. When I’m acting, I don’t want people to think I’m acting as well on social media. It’s really neat when I can see people identifying with what I’m doing and my journey, and if I can help them in any way, it’s an honour for me.

SC: The Great Gilly Hopkins comes out during the holiday and has a strong message of family. What are you looking forward to at this time of year?

SN: I have bought all of my gifts and I’m really excited. I am actually going to New York with a friend for three days. Then I am coming back and spending the rest of the time with my family and my grandparents come down. In Montréal, we have snow (at the time of the interview, there was no snow on the ground), and I have the chance to build a snowman.

The Great Gilly Hopkins is now available on VOD and DVD.