When Sophie Lowe dropped out of Sydney's McDonald College in 2008, figuring “school and me didn't fit well together,” she got her first starring role in the feature film Beautiful Kate.
Like most actresses she's since gone through dry spells in her career, interspersed with critically-praised performances in TV's The Slap and Satisfaction and the movies Blessed and Blame. But she never lost her drive and determination and that persistence has paid off handsomely as the 22-year-old prepares to star in the US-set road movie What Lola Wants, her fourth film in 12 months.
“Work comes in waves, it's very up-and-down,” she tells SBS Film. “Sometimes it's hard but I never stop striving to get to where I want to be.” In What Lola Wants, which starts shooting in California on October 29, she plays the title character who runs away from home and fakes her disappearance as a kidnapping. In a desert diner she meets a guy played by Beau Knapp (Super 8), they rapidly fall in love and head for Mobile, Alabama, pursued by sinister forces. Her parents offer a reward of $1 million for her safe return.
The film's Australian writer-director Rupert Glasson (Coffin Rock) originally intended to cast a US actress but chose Sophie, marvelling at her “ethereal” quality which he says suits the setting in a “heightened world”.
A year ago the English-born actress, who moved to Australian when she was 10, went to Indonesia to join the ensemble cast in US writer-director John Huddles' The Philosophers, the saga of a philosophy teacher at an international school in Jakarta who challenges his class to choose 10 of their fellow students who would take shelter underground and reboot the human race in the event of a nuclear apocalypse.
Next she journeyed to the Austrian Alps for Markus Blunder's Autumn Blood, a thriller about a 16-year-old girl and her 10-year-old brother who are attacked by hunters after their single mother dies. “It's a simple kind of story, raw and heartfelt,” she says. “I saw a rough cut on my laptop and visually it's very beautiful; I can't wait to see it on the big screen.” The cast includes Peter Stormare, Samuel Vauramo, Gustaf Skarsgård and Annica Bejhed.
That was followed by Two Mothers, a drama adapted from Doris Lessing's novel The Grandmothers, an Australian-French co-production directed by Anne Fontaine (Coco Before Chanel) and scripted by Christopher Hampton.
Shot in Sydney and coastal NSW, the film stars Robin Wright and Naomi Watts as close friends and neighbours who each fall in love with the other's teenage son, played by James Frecheville and Xavier Samuel. Sophie plays the girlfriend of Xavier's character. She sounds star-struck when describing her first meeting with Watts and Wright, observing, “It was surreal. I was so shy around them I couldn't speak [initially]. They were so lovely.” Hopscotch/eOne is the Australian distributor.
She's excited about her role as Lola, explaining, “I put down an audition, sent it to Los Angeles (where Glasson is currently based) and got the job. I was so eager to get this role.”
Glasson, who's producing the film with his Coffin Rock collaborator Ayisha Davies, says it's fully financed by private investors. He'll start looking for distributors after the film is in the can. He's also developing The Vault, a bank heist thriller, with producers David Lightfoot and Tom Jacobson.