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Meet Sophie Kennedy Clark, the Newcomer Who's Worked With Lars von Trier, Tim Burton and Stephen Frears

Photo of Nigel M Smith By Nigel M Smith | Indiewire November 29, 2013 at 8:48AM

Three films (and a mere two years) into her career as an actress, Scottish newcomer Sophie Kennedy Clark has already worked with Tim Burton, Stephen Frears and most recently, Lars von Trier.
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Sophie Kennedy Clark
Left: Daniel Bergeron Sophie Kennedy Clark

Three films (and a mere two years) into her career as an actress, Scottish newcomer Sophie Kennedy Clark has already worked with Tim Burton, Stephen Frears and most recently, Lars von Trier.

How did she manage that feat? Well, according to Clark, who sat down with Indiewire in New York in support of her turn in Frears' potential Oscar-contender "Philomena" (it opened last week and expands today), it's simply due to the fact that she just goes with the flow. "If you're prepared to give yourself over to a situation, directors will respond to it," she said. "I will commit to something at an almost embarrassing level. I have very little shame."

"Philomena"
TWC "Philomena"

Nowhere is that more evident that in her character poster for von Trier's "Nymphomaniac," in which Clark mocks a no holds barred orgasm for the camera. (For more on the shooting of the poster go here).

She employed that same winning approach to snag her second onscreen role as the titular "Philomena," a woman who's forced to give up her infant to the church against her will. Judi Dench plays the character in her elderly years.

"[For the audition] they asked me to do the birth scene," Clark recalled. "Two seconds later you find yourself in a chair, legs hoisted up in the air, and me thinking, 'I'm going to make them regret this.' It's not humiliating, but it's a bit like the poster for 'Nymphomaniac.' It's so animal, be it giving birth, or in the throes of passion. My poor parents!"

The acting bug bit at a young age for Clark, thanks to a love for telling stories. "I live for ridiculous situations to then tell people about. I always have, since I was very young.

"I left school at 16 and my parents were like, 'What's your plan?' I worked for a bit and then when I was 17 I moved from North East Scotland to New York, jumping off the deep end. I took loads of courses, finding that no techniques worked for me. Then I moved to London."

Though "brute force" Clark got an agent. According to the actress, the first audition her agent sent her out for was for the role of David Tennant's eldest daughter in the four-part BBC-drama "Single Father." She nabbed the part, catching a lot of peoples' attention, and as her follow-up appeared opposite Johnny Depp in Burton's "Dark Shadows." "Philomena" was next, followed soon after by von Trier's "Nymphomaniac."

"Nymphomaniac"
Magnolia "Nymphomaniac"

"I don't have any sex scenes," she said of her work in the highly anticipated film. "I narrowly dodged that bullet."

"Lars brings something out in you that I hadn't experienced before," she added. "He gives you this free license to become something. I can see why he makes people uneasy. I'm a tough cookie so I know why I dealt with it quite well.

"My parents are glad I did 'Philomena' because they think the convent is now the only place for me."

This article is related to: Sophie Kennedy Clark, Lars von Trier, Nymphomaniac: Volume I, Philomena, Judi Dench, Stephen Frears, Tim Burton, Interviews, The Weinstein Company






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