Sophia Brown on her role in Netflix’s ‘The Witcher: Blood Origin’
The Soho House member and star of the fantasy hit series opens up about her biggest acting gig to date
Monday 9 January 2023 By Soho House
British actor and Soho House member Sophia Brown is the star of Netflix’s The Witcher: Blood Origin – a prequel to the cult fantasy drama starring Henry Cavill as a mutated monster hunter. Debuted on the streaming platform in late December, the new series provides the backstory to the world of elves, humans and monsters in which The Witcher is set, with a new warrior at its helm: enter Brown’s character, Éile, known best as The Lark.
As those who’ve already binged the first season will know, The Lark is a former warrior of her clan’s Queen’s guard. She exiled herself to start a new life, but is grappling with the difficulty of coming to terms with that decision. When Brown was approached about the opportunity, she had just sworn off acting altogether. Having had a tough run due to COVID-19 restrictions and lockdown in 2020 (something we can all relate to), she’d made the decision to quit acting for good, despite having recently starred in UK dramas such as Giri/Haji and The Capture.
Here, she tells Soho House about the role that made her re-commit to her life-long passion, her acting inspirations and what it was really like filming The Witcher: Blood Origin.
How did you get into acting?
‘I’m from Northampton and went to school there. As a child, I loved performing. My siblings and I would organise our own talent shows, so performing was part of my life early on.
‘When I was older and thinking about where to go for sixth form, I wanted to go to a school that did drama, but also where I could do my A-Levels. There was a school in London that offered both, so I made the choice to move there when I was 15. As soon as I arrived in the city, it was like a tornado.
‘From then, I continued to act, choosing to do it at university. When I graduated, I fell into theatre and did that for some time. I then got some screen work and began to navigate both of those spaces. My work has always been in the world of performing. I’m a performance artist as well, and a lot of my work centres on movement and my Black experience, and how I can express that in different ways.’
What are the most valuable acting lessons you’ve learnt?
‘Going to drama school quite young taught me that I can make mistakes – I can just really lean into playing around. Acting is an art form. Therefore, I want to be able to use all the colours and not just pick the right colour the first time. I really want to paint and figure out what I want to create for myself.
‘Because I’ve been working in the industry for so many years now, it’s also taught me real determination, patience, and resilience.’
Who inspired you on screen?
‘I remember going on a school trip to see the musical Blood Brothers. Even now I’ll put the soundtrack on and sing along to it.
‘When I was younger, a lot of my onscreen references came from American TV. I loved shows like Moesha. They made me come into my own as a little Black girl.
‘Some of my favourite actors who have inspired me are Jennifer Coolidge, Minnie Driver – who I got to work with on The Witcher – and Angela Bassett. I probably watched What’s Love Got To Do With It too young, but it’s a classic.’
Who would be your dream cast member?
‘There are lots of people I would love and would have loved to work with – Stephen Graham, Daniel Kaluuya and Pina Bausch are just a few.’
How did the opportunity to star in The Witcher come about?
‘In the lead up to the audition I had actually decided to stop acting. COVID was really difficult and I found it hard to continue working and booking jobs over Zoom. It had been 18 months of that cycle. It was just too much for me. I called my agent and told her that I had made the decision to leave. I could find my creativity in different ways. That same evening, she called me to say I had an audition. She said after this one I wouldn’t have to hear from her again.
‘I went about my weekend, it got to Sunday and I began to learn the lines. I read through it and thought I could do it, but that this would be my last audition. Afterwards, I got a recall and then another chemistry read, and then I met the producer. It was at that point that I thought this could be something, and then lo and behold it turned into an offer and I booked the job.’
What has it been like filming? Can you tell me about your character?
‘Filming was incredible. I got to meet some great people and go to some amazing locations. I get to play Éile, an elite warrior who is blessed with the voice of a goddess, who leaves her clan and position as Queen’s guardian to follow her heart as a nomadic musician.
‘A really big event happens that brings her back to her family, and Blood Origin focuses on that journey. I’ve found it really wonderful and warm to play her. There have been so many similarities between Éile and I; I could slip into being her.’
What were the parts of your character that resonated with you?
‘Éile feels deeply and loves hard. She has a big well of emotion that sometimes she can’t really carry herself. I definitely relate to that. It’s also been really nice to sing – my sisters are musicians and singers. I love to sing, but it’s definitely not something I would have ever considered doing as a career, so being able to do it in Blood Origin has been a real blessing.’
Do you have any favourite memories from being on set?
‘Every day brought so much joy. Working with Laurence O’Fuarain and Michelle Yeoh on a daily basis has been one of the highlights of my career. I feel really honoured to have shared such an amazing space with them.’