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Sophie Thatcher thought her Jan. 12 debut on The Book of Boba Fett would be her introduction to the pop culture zeitgeist, but her Showtime series, Yellowjackets, which premiered two months earlier, has instead become the Internet’s new favorite show out of nowhere. Created by Ashley Lyle and Bart Nickerson, Yellowjackets is a psychological survival drama that explores the immediate and long-term aftermath of a high school soccer team’s plane crash in the Canadian wilderness. As part of the series’ dual narrative, Thatcher plays teenage Natalie, the team outcast, in the 1996 timeline, while Juliette Lewis plays a present-day version of the same character.
Thatcher, who was cast first, was bowled over when she learned that Lewis, one of her acting heroes, would be playing a grown-up version of the same character.
“I’ve always looked up to her. She’s pretty much as cool as it gets, and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? was a really big movie for me growing up,” Thatcher tells The Hollywood Reporter. “We talked a lot on the phone and I would always see her doing the Zoom read-throughs. So I would try and study her mannerisms because she has such specific mannerisms. Artistically, we were always on the same page. We have each other’s backs. And for season two, we just want the best for our character and for both of us to be happy. So it’s very collaborative and I’m really thankful for her.”
Shortly before Yellowjackets was picked up to series in December 2020, Thatcher found out that she’d been cast in Disney+’s The Mandalorian spinoff, The Book of Boba Fett. Thatcher plays Drash, a member of Tatooine street gang that modifies their human bodies with droid parts. Once she was cast, Thatcher decided to shield herself by keeping a low profile on social media.
“There’s obviously a lot of pressure going into something with the biggest fanbase of all time. So I had to delete Twitter and Reddit because I didn’t want to look at anything,” Thatcher says with a laugh. “It’s inevitable that people are going to say what they want, but I’m really happy with how it turned out. I play a really cool character. I’ve been getting funny comments as people say I look like Julian Casablancas, Nina Hagen or Joan Jett. Basically, they say I look like anyone with a mullet, which is funny.”
While she was filming, Book of Boba Fett creator Jon Favreau specifically referenced one of the aforementioned comparisons.
“Jon Favreau would always bring up Joan Jett — a sci-fi Joan Jett — and I was like, ‘Yeah, that’s cool.’ I’ll take it,” Thatcher shares.
In a recent conversation with THR, Thatcher also discusses the tragic ending of Yellowjackets season one. Then she teases what’s next for Drash on Book of Boba Fett.
Congratulations onYellowjackets, the Internet’s new favorite show.
Thanks! Yeah, it came out of nowhere. We didn’t know what to expect. We didn’t really know what was going to happen while we were making it, but we’ve been surprised. (Laughs.) People really like it.
And you’ve also been keeping your Book of Boba Fett secret for most of Yellowjackets‘ first season. Can you attempt to describe what this dual liftoff has been like?
It’s been hard to keep it a secret because it’s really exciting. It’s such an honor to be a part of the Star Wars family because it brings in some of the most insanely talented people. Aesthetically, it’s so cool, too. The costumes that they gave me had so much detail, and I’ve never worked on anything like that before. There’s obviously a lot of pressure going into something with the biggest fanbase of all time. So I had to delete Twitter and Reddit because I didn’t want to look at anything. (Laughs.) It’s inevitable that people are going to say what they want, but I’m really happy with how it turned out. I play a really cool character. I’ve been getting funny comments as people say I look like Julian Casablancas, Nina Hagen or Joan Jett. Basically, they say I look like anyone with a mullet, which is funny. (Laughs.)
I’ve also seen Pat Benatar and Ally Sheedy comparisons.
(Thatcher gasps.) I love Ally Sheedy. I’ll take all of them — even Julian Casablancas. (Laughs.)
Did Robert Rodriguez or Jon Favreau reference anyone specific to you?
Jon Favreau would always bring up Joan Jett — a sci-fi Joan Jett — and I was like, “Yeah, that’s cool.” I’ll take it. (Laughs.)
So what was the timeline? Was it the Yellowjackets pilot first, Boba Fett second and then the rest of Yellowjackets season one?
Yeah, I was a teenager when we shot the Yellowjackets pilot. I was 19. It was pre-Covid; it was pre a lot of stuff. When we came back to shoot the season, we all kind of felt like different people because Covid had hit. Inevitably, people changed and learned a lot, while some changed for the better and some changed for the worse. I’m not saying the cast; I’m just saying in general. But all of us learned a lot through this period of time. I did a self-tape for both Yellowjackets and Boba Fett and didn’t hear anything back for a bit. And then I randomly booked both jobs. I have no idea how. I didn’t meet anyone; I just did a self-tape. I got the Boba Fett news around the time that we heard there was going to be a season one of Yellowjackets. It was within two weeks of each other, and I was like, “Wow, this entire year is going to be booked.” (Laughs.) It was a little overwhelming after staying at home, not doing anything, being lazy and a little bit depressed. Then suddenly, I knew that I wouldn’t have any time off, and I didn’t, really. So yes, I shot the Yellowjackets pilot first, Boba Fett second and then season one after Boba Fett.
With Boba Fett, did you know what you were going out for? How vague was the casting breakdown?
It was just something Star Wars. So I read the character description and they let me improvise a little bit. They asked me to do my standard American accent and then a British accent. And they chose my British because I think it worked well with Jordan [Bolger, who plays Skad]. I also think the British accent feels a little less modern, because I feel like I talk in a very modern way, normally, with my American accent. So I think that’s why they chose the British, but it was fucking scary because I didn’t have an accent coach. (Laughs.) I just had to do it myself, and that was by far the thing I was most stressed out about when the episode came out yesterday. I just thought people were going to murder me for my accent, but it wasn’t that bad when I watched it. It’s rare that Americans do British accents, and I was this little nobody, coming into the Star Wars universe and playing this character who makes a big statement, plus an accent. So I didn’t have a lot of help with it, but they trusted me. So that felt good, and I’m happy with it after watching it. It’s a fucking cool show. (Laughs.)
When I first received an email about you, I assumed you were British at first glance. So I can see why they chose the British accent.
(Laughs.) Nope! (Thatcher imitates a Chicago accent.) I’m from Chicago!
So how was the good news delivered?
So after I did that one self-tape with my older sister, I tried not to get too attached. I do millions of self-tapes, and most of the time, I don’t hear anything. In my head, I was like, “Star Wars? There’s no way.” (Laughs.) There was no way! And then I got a random call one night; I had just ordered Popeyes. (Laughs.) So I was eating a chicken sandwich, and my agents called, saying, “Remember that Star Wars audition?” because I had done so many auditions in between then. So they said that I booked it, and a couple days later, we were confirmed for a season of Yellowjackets. So it was a lot.
Temuera Morrison is not the first Mandalorian you’ve worked with; you worked with Pedro Pascal on Prospect. Were you able to tell him ahead of time that you joined his world?
I think he knows from Instagram because we still follow each other. We were really close on Prospect. He helped me a lot. I was 16, but 16 going on 30 because I grew up very quickly as most young actors do. But he treated me like an adult, which was nice. Nobody on that set treated me like a kid. He’s also one of the funniest people I’ve ever met; he’s just hilarious. Pedro and Jay [Duplass], together, were a really funny duo.
Drash’s droid arm. Green sleeve or something practical?
Green sleeve, yeah! We experimented a bit with it. They had makeup and prosthetics, and then they decided they didn’t like that. They started off with a thicker arm, and then decided it looked cooler as it is. So I love the way it turned out, but I had a green sleeve on the entire time. I was really curious to see how it would turn out, and it looks really cool.
When you were growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, you probably dreamed about stabbing a Wookie (Black Krrsantan) someday. So was it everything you ever imagined?
(Laughs.) That was my first day on set! I was horrified! I hadn’t had a physical role where I have to show strength within my physicality. So a lot of it was stunt stuff, and I had to get really comfortable with my body. I guess it wasn’t a lot of stunt stuff, but I’m not used to it at all. Even doing a little ducking and moving around and getting the right steps was really stressful for me. I’m not the most coordinated person, so I had to do a lot of physical acting. On the first day, I was like, “I just have to fake this.” I felt silly a lot of the time, but then I got to a point where I was like, “If I can fake the confidence, then people will believe me.” And I haven’t had to push myself to do that in so long. So if I believed I looked cool, then it usually sold. But her cool blade was a nice touch, a nice accessory, and the bikes were insane.
So how did they shoot your side of the big speeder chase? Were you on a rig the whole time?
Yeah! I think they let Jordan ride it a couple times, but I was just being carried around on a rig. I didn’t get to move at all. I don’t think people trusted me fully. (Laughs.) I wouldn’t have trusted me with that either.
I hope someone gifts you a framed version of that low-angle shot where you’re riding the speeder bike and getting ready to pounce on Mok Shaiz’s Majordomo (David Pasquesi).
That’s what everyone keeps posting! I remember on set, Robert was like, “Come here,” and he showed me that exact shot. And he was like, “This is a money shot!” And I was like, “Yup, Robert knows what he’s doing.” He was like, “This is going to sell,” and it does. He just has this genius mind for it. He has such a specific way of seeing what people want.
How much did you shoot in the volume, versus the backlot?
Most of it was on the backlot. I have something else in the volume, but I also don’t know how much I can say. You can assume my character might be in more stuff.
That would make sense since a war is on the horizon.
Yeah, I don’t disappear. (Laughs.) I don’t even know if I’m allowed to say that.
Moving to Yellowjackets, how hard is it to balance a quarter on a rifle?
Again, I’m not coordinated. (Laughs.) It just took some focus and concentration, but it helped me get in the right mindset because Natalie was so present and in the moment. It helped emotionally, too, to be so tense. It brought a certain tension. Weirdly, I’ve had a lot of work with guns. But that quarter on the gun was probably the hardest part, and I think we got it in a couple shots. The emotions were all there and the intensity was there.
Since you were cast first, were you ecstatic when Juliette Lewis signed on to play a present-day version of you/Natalie?
Oh yeah! Getting cast feels like such a blur because it was so long ago. For a while, I thought she was cast first, but it’s so strange to think that I was cast before her. I’ve always looked up to her. She’s pretty much as cool as it gets, and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? was a really big movie for me growing up. And she is just so effortlessly cool in that. You don’t really get that effortless kind of cool anymore. It was specifically the ’90s.
You took the words right out of my mouth! It’s perfect casting because you’re both effortlessly cool.
And your look on Yellowjackets is very reminiscent of her in Natural Born Killers. Was that by design?
I just had that hair at the time! I’d been cutting my own mullet for a bit, and they thought it worked well for the pilot. It just looked fake and bleached. So I liked that they didn’t dye my hair and really get me to look exactly like Juliette. We kind of look alike, but that’s not the main goal. It’s about sharing an essence. So I think that worked pretty well. They were pretty nitpicky with everyone else, but I had to work pretty hard to get to that point where I felt like we had the same essence.
Did the two of you watch each other’s dailies for reference? Did you have Zoom chats to discuss your individual approaches to Natalie?
We never really hung out, but we talked a lot on the phone and I would always see her doing the Zoom read-throughs. So I would try and study her mannerisms because she has such specific mannerisms. I think both of us are very expressive and use our hands a lot. We just have specific quirks so I really tried to tune into that during the read-throughs. And growing up with her movies, they’re all there. But we had a lot of phone calls, and artistically, we were always on the same page. We have each other’s backs. And for season two, we just want the best for our character and for both of us to be happy. So it’s very collaborative and I’m really thankful for her.
Did you follow the present-day material rather closely? Did it ever influence your choices in 1996?
The thing is, younger Natalie is so different from older Natalie. Out of all of them, I think she’s the most different. Natalie, throughout a certain point, stays the most level-headed and, to some extent, is kind of the moral compass. She changes a lot post-crash, and I’m just assuming all this because I don’t know. But in the wilderness, she starts to thrive. It gave her purpose and she says that. She’s living with this purpose for a couple episodes, and then she goes back to her addictive personality with Travis [Kevin Alves] and latches on to that. But in episode four, the wilderness gives her purpose, and it’s the most she’s had in her life. And it’s the polar opposite of present Natalie. Because she comes from a really tortured family, she knows, deep down, that she could end up like that. It’s all she’s known, so it is a possibility. But in the wilderness, things start to change. She suddenly doesn’t want to drink anymore, and she’s finding other distractions, which is interesting. So she’s going to change a lot, and I’m curious to see how they’re going to tie the two Natalies together in season two. There’s a certain lightness within 1996 Natalie that I wasn’t expecting at all, and Travis brought out that, too.
You can tell by present-day Natalie’s grief that she has real feelings for Travis, but how much of what she’s feeling in 1996 is a result of surviving this traumatic experience and not wanting to be alone as they potentially starve to death in the wilderness?
Initially, they bond over being outcasts and that’s a real bond. So it starts off like that, but then it just gets toxic really fast. It was toxic from the beginning, but not to the level of toxic that you see with present-day Natalie and what all the characters keep mentioning. I don’t think it’s gotten to that point yet. Because of her addictive personality, this is her new distraction, and she latches on to that. And once she realizes that they have trauma and deep wounds in common before the crash, they both connect over that. She hasn’t really been able to connect with anyone else on the team. She is definitely the most separated from everyone, so finding Travis is refreshing for her. But they quickly feed into each other in the worst way possible, and instead of booze or drugs, she’s obsessing over Travis.
[The following two questions/answers contain major spoilers for the Yellowjackets finale.]
In the finale, Shauna (Sophie Nélisse) discovers Jackie’s (Ella Purnell) body in the snow, and the entire team watches her scream in agony. As characters, they’ve lost their team captain, and as castmates, you’re basically saying goodbye to Ella and her time on the show. So was that day emotionally draining for everybody?
We were all in the background, but there was a lot of pressure put on Sophie Nélisse, obviously. They’ve had so many scenes together, and suddenly, Sophie had to walk in and start screaming. She did it so well, and I can’t imagine what it was like for her.
But just hearing her wail had to have been difficult for the rest of you, right?
Oh yeah! Sophie is such a fucking good actor, and she was so fully invested and present in it that it was just reacting for the rest of us. When someone is so invested and so present, you’re immediately brought into it.
Natalie’s backstory in episode four. Was that your hardest day on the show so far?
Yeah, that wasn’t great. But then I watched it and it was so much more low-key than I expected. I was a little stressed out during that episode. I was really happy that they brought me so much stuff, but I didn’t want to play her as a cliché. So I hope it didn’t read that way, but I made it through it. I want more scenes like that, but that was just a weird scene for me. So in season two, I want more of a breakdown of Natalie. I want her to lose her shit a little bit more. (Laughs.)
You mentioned in a Showtime featurette that Natalie is similar to you and that you found it scary.
Exactly. That’s why playing her was hard, sometimes. I’d rather play someone who’s polar opposite. (Laughs.) I don’t want to elaborate too much, but I definitely relate to her in a lot of ways. In high school, I felt a lot like her, but I was definitely more toned down. I still had my shit together to some extent because I was working all the time, but I definitely relate to her.
Was that Vancouver lake oppressively cold when you shot those swimming scenes?
Yeah, that was pretty fucking cold, but I didn’t have to go in as much as Courtney [Eaton, who plays Lottie].
Natalie’s baptism is coming in season two.
(Laughs.) I did have that moment in my bra, saying, “Oh Travis, no!” so that was kind of it.
Given the makeup of the cast, what was the vibe of the set like?
Yeah, it was pretty chaotic, inevitably. (Laughs.) It was almost always female directors and female writers, too. Covid has really changed the atmosphere on sets, but even just the show in general is so chaotic. And we were shooting it so fast. Just shooting the pilot was such a different feeling. It was also in L.A., and I think most of the cast is in L.A. I’m the only one in New York. So we were all going through a lot emotionally because we were away from everyone and we weren’t able to go back to the States from Vancouver. That was probably the hardest part, and we all went through it in our own ways.
Yellowjackets season one is now available on Showtime, and The Book of Boba Fett is now streaming on Disney+.
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