Sofia Black-D'Elia is one of Hollywood's rising young stars who is enjoying success on both the small and big screen. We have already seen her in a major role in sci-fi film Project Almanac this year, which has just been released on DVD & Blu-Ray.
We caught up with the actress to chat about the science fiction movie, working with director Dean Israelite and what lies ahead as we go through the rest of 2015.
- Project Almanac is about to be released on DVD, so can you tell me a bit about if for those who may not have seen it yet?
Project Almanac is a really fun ride and I recommend that you see if with a big group of your friends. This is movie that mixes elements of found footage and time travel but at the same time, it is funny, sweet, and real. What is really great about the film is that it feels like it is your friends. It is a good game.
- You take on the role of Jessie Pierce in the film, so what was it about the script and the character that was the major drawn when you read it for the first time?
One of the big draws for me was getting the chance to work with Dean Israelite our director. I met him pretty early on in the process and really couldn't wait to work with him because he was smart and fun. Another big draw, was working with Jonny (Weston) and the rest of the cast and get to improv through the majority of it. It seemed like it was going to be a blast and I turned out to be right.
- Can you talk a bit about Jessie, where we are going to see her fit into the story, and the interesting relationship that she has with Jonny's characters David Raskin?
At first glance, Jessie is your typical hot girl at school but then you come to realise that she is a lonely loser like everyone else. Jessie has this great relationship with David because she is actually the one who falls flat on her face - as opposed to the stereotype, which would see that happen to him. I think it is a really sweet and believable high school relationship.
- How much did you like playing a character that went against the stereotypes that we so often see in high school movies?
It was awesome. I had the freedom to make her a little cooler than she was in the original script, which was really fun for me because I am not very good at playing people that are cool (laughs). I was quite happy that she could mess up, say the wrong thing, be embarrassed, and be a real girl.
- You have mentioned Dean Israelite already and he is in the director's chair, so how did you find working with him? It's hard to believe that this is his feature film directorial debut.
I know it really is so hard to believe. I feel very lucky to have been in his first movie because I think that a long time from now, I will be telling people about that. He is so special and so smart.
I loved working with him and I cannot wait to do it again. He is a blast. He knows when to work, he knows when to laugh, and he just has a really great time. I feel really lucky to have had that experience.
- You have said that this shoot gave to the chance to do a lot of improv work, so how did you find that?
It was really freeing and I really loved it. There were certain scenes where we definitely had to do what was on the page; luckily, we did have a good script to work from. It made it hard to go back to working the normal way after that because I did find it so fun. I had such a good group around me - Sam (Lerner) and Allen (Evangelista) are absolutely hilarious and we had a really great time.
- This is a sci-fi film but it is also a film about friendships and relationships and there seems to be a really great connection between the central cast. So how did you find working with Jonny, Sam, Allen and Virginia?
Yeah. We had clicked as soon as we met each other - we were really lucky in that sense because I don't think that is happens a lot. I think that you do feel that when you watch it. I think you are right and I think that this is more than a sci-fi film, it is a high school friendship film; part of that came from the script and part of that came from that fact that these five people couldn't have got along any better.
We truly enjoyed working with each other and hanging out; they are like family to me now and Virginia is the first call I make when I land in LA. I feel really grateful that my first studio film was such an incredibly kind and sweet experience and I think that is because of them.
- The movie hit the big screen earlier this year and is now about to be released on DVD, so how have you been finding the response to the film?
It has been nice to get the feedback from teenagers - I think that is the only way that you can gauge something that's about five high school kids. I don't really know what an older gentleman critic would know about that (laughs). I have been really pleased about the number of kids that have come up to me - being in New York has been a good gauge of how things are going - and they really love it and went to see it with their friends.
My best friend's little brother from back home texted me and said 'I saw it with five of my buddies and we all loved it.' That is what we really wanted for this film; we wanted seventeen year olds to be going to see it with their best friends and having a good time. I am really happy.
- During your career, we have seen you move between TV and film, so how do the two mediums compare?
I think I always try to do the best work that I can, go to work, keep my head down, smile, and be grateful and I don't think that changes no matter what medium you are working with.
The hours are a little different I guess (laughs). With TV, you have a little bit longer to flesh out a character, which I really enjoy. Any day that I have a job is a good day and so I am happy to be doing either one.
- Away from Project Almanac, you have also been working on Ben-Hur, so can you tell me a bit about that?
I wrapped two weeks ago and it was pretty great. Shooting in Italy for four months was just a dream. It is a massive film and I still cannot believe that I was part of it at all.
Again, it was a lovely group however, it was the complete opposite of Project Almanc because there was no improv (laughs), - I did try to do a little improv but quickly got yelled at. It was really different to anything that I had done before and was a challenge but I really cannot wait to see it. It was pretty intense.
- You are taking on bigger and bigger film projects and roles, so how much is film where you want to be going forward?
I don't think I am heading in any specific direction but television is really where my heart it at. I think I just want to play really cool characters and I don't care where I do that: whether that's on stage here in New York, on television, or in a film. If I get to be around smarter people than me and can grow a little bit then I will take it.
- Finally, what's next for you going through the second half of this year?
What's next is a very good question that I don't have the answer to. I am looking forward to what's next I just don't know what that is going to be.
Project Almanac is out on DVD & Blu-Ray now.