Sophie Turner was barely a teenager when she began her role as the sheltered, fiery-haired Sansa Stark on "Game of Thrones,” meaning her first exposure to the realities of sex came from a story involving incest, brothels and rape.
"The first time I found out about oral sex was reading the 'Game of Thrones' script," the 21-year-old actress revealed in an interview with The Times. "I was 13. I said, 'Wow! People do that? That’s fascinating.'"
"I guess that was my sex education," she joked. "Being on 'Game of Thrones.'"
Turner's experience on the show also taught her some hard lessons about sexual objectification and being under public scrutiny when she was required to post photographs of herself on social media to drum up interest for the show.
"It’s written into contracts that in order to promote projects, you have to have social media. So it would be torturous, because I would have to post images. And the social media team at my agency would be like, 'You have to post every day to keep those followers!' It was mad. And I would do it. And then I’d obsess over it after I read the first negative comment."
That pressure came to a peak in Season 5, when her character was brutally raped by the sadistic Ramsay Bolton on their wedding night. The scene caused a backlash on social media, with many people saying they would boycott the rest of the series.
"Sexual assault wasn’t something that had affected me or anybody I knew, so I was pretty blasé about the whole thing," Turner said. "Naively so. And then I shot the scene, and in the aftermath there was this huge uproar that we would depict something like that on television. My first response was like, maybe we shouldn’t have put that on screen at all."
Eventually, she decided that it was better to be honest and face the horror of the scene - one of the first times she learned to form her own opinion on a serious subject and defend it as an adult.
"The more we talk about sexual assault the better, and screw the people who are saying we shouldn’t be putting this on TV and screw the people who are saying they’re going to boycott the show because of it. This sort of thing used to happen and it continues to happen now, and if we treat it as such a taboo and precious subject, then how are people going to have the strength to come out and feel comfortable saying that this has happened to them?"