Sophia Caruso: The 15-Year-Old Actress Bringing David Bowie's Art To Life On Stage

From shopping in vintage shops on Brick Lane to reading lines opposite actress Michelle Williams, we sat down with Lazarus star Sophia Caruso to life on stage, moving to London, and what it's like being part of one of David Bowie's last artistic legacies

MOST POPULAR

On 10 January this year, the world lost one of the greatest music artists in history – David Bowie.

His devastating death at the age of 69 left popular culture in shock and melancholy at seeing the end to his chameleonic career.

From playing Jareth the Goblin King in Labyrinth and singing 'Heroes' at Live Aid in 1985 to an estimated audience of 1.9 billion people, to the creation of Ziggy Stardust and the unforgettable collaboration with Freddie Mercury on 'Under Pressure', summing up Bowie's reign over the charts is near impossible.

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

After battling cancer for 18 months, Bowie's 25th and final studio album Backstar hit the charts as a 'parting gift' for fans, carefully bidding a farewell to popular culture and the world with poignant lyrics like, 'Look up here, I'm in Heaven!'

However, months before his death, David Bowie debuted his play 'Lazarus' (inspired by the novel 'The Man Who Fell To Earth') in New York Theatre which he co-wrote with Irish playwright Enda Walsh (the award-winning writer of Once), which detailed the story of a man/alien on Earth who desperately wants to go home to his planet.

MOST POPULAR

It premiered in New York with rave reviews. The New York Times journalist Ben Brantley described it as having the power to 'transport us to that lonely planet where all of us aliens at least sometimes feel we live'.

Fortunately for us Brits, the production has finally crossed over the Atlantic to Bowie's home city of London. We caught up with the show's star, Sophia Anne Caruso, to find out more about the production, what it's like to work with Bowie and exactly where is the best place to vintage shop these days:

Congratulations on 'Lazarus'. How would you describe the play?

Based on a book by Walter Tevis, Lazarus sees Thomas Newton (the protagonist), a troubled alien trapped in his New York apartment, and my character – another lost soul - who comes in not knowing anything about herself or what her past is. All she knows is that she has to help him. She represents hope for Newton and, in the end, we set each other free.

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

You worked with David on the creation of the show and starred in the original New York production, last year. What was it like working with him?

He was in rehearsal a pretty good amount. He was a very kind person and very humble.

I've listened to Bowie's music my entire life. My Mum was always playing [his music] when I grew up. I was very informed about David and I was a major fan before they were auditioning the role for the musical but he was the main reason I had interest in the play. That, and the fact director Ivo Van Hove (the Belgian director behind 'A View From the Bridge, starring Mark Strong) was running it.

You're the same age as Bowie's daughter Lexi. With David's passing, was it important to you to honour David's artistic memory?

The play is sort of a tribute to him every night but I don't consider it a rock concert in his tribute. Certainly the reason I wanted to come to London to do it was partially to honor [his memory] through the production.

You say your 'Lazarus' character is an un-earthly girl. How would you describe her?

She's whatever you imagine her to be. She was once a real girl, now she's a ghost but she could also be a figment of Newton's imagination.

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

The show allows freedom in people's minds to make this up for themselves. She's also ethereal, lost, hopeful, innocent, and fragile. I really love her.

How have you prepared for the role?

I started with working on the script and developing the character, learning the music material and I stole some Bowie'isms. I'd seen so much of his work so I really dug deep, watching loads of interviews and videos of him to see how he moved. I certainly took his tone of his voice and certain movements for my rendition of 'Life On Mars'.

What lasting memory would you like the audience to leave with after the play?

Whatever they can imagine. I just want them to feel something. It's a show you should just watch and take in, not try to navigate. I want audiences to listen to the music – they're not just covers, they're re-creations and new works that Bowie was deeply involved in.

You're in London until mid January so what's on your list to do and see while you're here?

I want to stay longer, I love it here. I want to go to a lot of museums, see some plays on the West End and visit David Bowie's private art collection at Sotheby's before it's auctioned off.

My Mum was an artist and jeweler so I grew up around art. It's definitely something that influences my work and inspires me.

When you're not acting in the evenings, what do you get up to?

When I'm not at work, I still work. I get ahead in school, work on new projects, shop and explore - I'm a big vintage shopper. I've been shopping in Covent Garden and Portobello market which was really fun. I like going to Brick Lane, Rokit and Pop Boutique.

You've done both film and theatre – which do you like most?

I like them each for different reasons. I love the thrill of live theatre – performing for an audience is like a high for me but I'm pretty picky about the work I do. I only want to do certain shows with certain directors. The plays that I'm interested in are usually controversial, edgy, thought-provoking and mind-bending.

You've worked with the likes of Emmy Award-winner Jeff Daniels and Oscar-nominated Michelle Williams – do you find it daunting working with such acclaimed actors?

People forget they're also people, they're not just stars. They're just like me. I don't really get star-struck, but it's been incredible to work with such experienced, seasoned actors. I learn something new from every actor I work with. Michelle was very kind and humble. She's a fantastic actress.

MOST POPULAR

What are you reading, listening and watching at the moment?

I'm reading a playbook by Simon Stevens who is one of my favourite playwrights at the moment. I haven't really been watching much because I'm working, but when I can, I watch American Horror Story. I've been listening to a lot of French music recently which is a new thing for me. I'm really into Brigitte Bardot and Benjamin Clementine right now.

What's your life mantra that keeps you going, day to day?

'Slow and steady wins the race [laughs]'. Me and my Mum always say that. [Acting] is a really tough business, I've seen people who will get one huge thing and then burn out. I'm enjoying doing the work I love to do and not focusing on being famous. It doesn't matter if [acting] makes me famous or it doesn't – I think that's the way to look at it otherwise you'll drive yourself crazy.

Lazarus will run until 22 January 2017 at the Kings Cross Theatre South. Get tickets here.

Read Next: