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D&D Diaries: Sophia Lillis Wants To Change The Way You Look At The Game (SXSW 2023 Interview)

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at TX State chapter.

Sophia Lillis is unapologetically a huge Dungeons & Dragons fan. In case you weren’t at the SXSW Opening Night World Premiere, she explained to the audience how she played D&D in high school and has contributed to play it after the filming. With her character, Doric, Lillis portrays a Druid with nowhere to go until she is introduced to Edgin (played by Chris Pine) and Holga (played by Michelle Rodriguez) to help Edgin retrieve his daughter, Kira, back safely. After the world premiere, I spoke with Sophia Lillis about the progression of Dungeons & Dragons throughout our generation, stunt-work, and Doric’s insecurities as a character. 

This article contains slight spoilers for Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves.

Leia Mendoza: Hi Sophia! How are you doing? 

Sophia Lillis: Hello! Hi Leia, how are you?

LM: I’m good! First of all, I just want to say that I saw Dungeons and Dragons last Friday at the premiere and I loved it so much. I asked the first question of the festival and I did not mean to put y’all on the spot. 

SL: No way! *laughs*

LM: Yes! I loved this film so much. I was just telling my friend about this and this kind of leads into my first question, but if we had watched this when we were younger because I’m 20, this would’ve become my whole personality. 

SL: *laughing*

LM: So, I’m curious, what was it about John and Jonathan’s execution of the script and the writing of the project that made you want to audition?

SL: Well, I played Dungeons and Dragons in high school. I played it a lot and I still enjoy it! *laughs* But, I think their voice really pushed through on this script and their humor is very unique, very actiony, especially the kind of things that are being made these days. I’m not saying anything wrong about Marvel or DC movies, but their humor is a little more unique to this genre. Just seeing that very Monty Python, almost sardonic type of humor in this movie made it really fun and unique and I wanted to be a part of that. This group of people are amazing, and the character, Doric, getting to turn into animals is also a plus. 

LM: No, yeah! I totally get it. It also gave me The NeverEnding Story vibes. 

SL: *laughing* A little bit, yeah! 

LM: I love that movie so much, so when I was watching Dungeons and Dragons, I was like “Oh, I love this! This is perfect“. It was hitting my sense of humor and everything. Kind of going back to Doric, I think she’s one of the most interesting characters of the whole film. In a way, she kind of has this very harsh exterior at the beginning and keeps to herself. But throughout the film, you kind of get to see this opportunity of her opening up and making jokes with everyone and kind of starting to care about their well-beings. In your opinion, what do you think is her shift moment in the film? 

SL: Definitely in the beginning, she’s definitely more closed off with her whole backstory of her parents abandoning her, with being a member of the Enclave. She kind of doesn’t have this home, so she doesn’t really have a family that she really loves. She has this sort of dry and closed off exterior in the beginning after coming to sign on and be with this group of people that she doesn’t particularly enjoy hanging out with. She ends up finding strength in these people that she would consider weak. I think there’s parts where she watches them work and maybe seeing Chris’s character fight for something that she would assume to be heroic in nature. I think also being with Simon and seeing him say “I can actually bring back the dead!”, and knows everything about this magic stuff, she starts to enjoy their company. I think that point in the beach scene where they’re together and she ends up realizing all of this was a facade, I think she does actually feel hurt. I think that’s the point where she realizes that she may actually like them a bit. She realizes how hurt she’s feeling when they kind of betray her. It’s probably something she hasn’t really felt before, or at least, in a long time. So, I think that’s the moment where she starts to feel like, “Shoot, this actually kind of sucks.”, and then after they forgive and forget and you know, end up being heroes, so that’s helpful. 

LM: I loved that explanation! You kind of touched on Simon as well, and first of all, I loved Simon and Doric’s dynamic. It’s so flirty and so much banter, but like, it’s so good. As an audience member, I was watching them and was rooting for them to make amends. Doric breaks off what they had because of what Simon lacks in self confidence, but sometimes throughout the film, you see that Doric has insecurities too. Do you think that in a way, she sees a lot of herself in Simon?

SL: Oh, absolutely! I think the one main difference with them is she kind of keeps it to herself and Simon is very open with his emotions, which in a way, is a little more healthy. They actually have a lot of similarities. Maybe that’s why at firsts she doesn’t really like him. Overall, I also really enjoy the way they wrote that relationship. I think it’s also because it wasn’t such a serious thing and it didn’t change the way they think about people, or quote-on-quote “love”. It’s not like “Oh, I love you and this is why I want to change!” or whatever. It ends up being a sweet little relationship that ends up not being a main part of why they change, but still is a really sweet relationship. At the end, where she says, “Yeah, I’ll give it one more shot.” I think because of it and the way they’ve written it has made it more realistic, so yeah, I agree! 

LM: I think that John and Jonathan do a really good job on writing relationships, whether it’s a romantic relationship or like with Holga and Edgin, being a friendship or platonic love. I think they’ve done a really good job on that as well, with exploring each type of relationship. Something I’ve also noticed is that you’re Gen Z as well, and I feel like as I’ve grown up and seen the perception of Dungeons and Dragons has sort of changed throughout the years. It’s become a lot more prevalent in pop culture and especially with this movie, it’s going to have a lot of attention towards you guys as the cast, but also exploring this movie. What do you hope that people from our generation will get from watching Dungeons and Dragons? 

SL: Well, I love the game of Dungeons and Dragons. I think it’s a game that really came back after COVID, because it was kind of a way to communicate with others and keep in touch. It’s such a fun game that anyone can play but when it first started, it had this image of “Oh, only really geeky people will enjoy playing this game!” which is actually not necessarily true, it really is just kind of a way of hanging out with your friends and family and just making up random shit and seeing how it works out. I think that’s what we should promote and I really hope that people should hope to see this world that seems really daunting first like “I have to discover all these math problems and whatever, like I’m not going to enjoy that.” kind of stuff. I hope it opens it up. I think one thing that the directors did really well is that when people watch this movie, you don’t actually have to know about D&D to like the movie. There’s elements in there where they don’t make them speak in only certain ways where only certain people who played D&D will get it. They just had elements of the D&D world in place and blended it into this movie. They made it as an introduction to D&D, almost. I hope that people come out thinking “I think I want to play D&D and I want to try this out.”, and to make it more of a universal game for anyone. 

LM: Absolutely! After I watched it, I was just like “I have to learn everything about this game, I have to go watch this again to go play this”. I loved what you said about there’s this stereotypes of only very smart geeky people can play this, because I feel like especially being at the Paramount Theatre, there were so many people who have never played Dungeons and Dragons like me, and we were all very much relating to every aspect of this story. We do have those times even in outlandish situations where we feel like an underdog and I think you guys have 100% achieved that with the movie. I think you guys have a very good example of teaming up and coming to a full sense of everyone has an amazing character arc. Simon finally overcomes his fear and doubting himself, Doric finally opens up, and I think you guys as the actors have done a really great job on portraying that well enough and being relatable. 

SL: Thank you! 

LM: It gravitated a lot of the audience members who are wanting to play more and putting themselves into these characters that they imagine. 

SL: Well, thank you so much, we tried! 

LM: I’m really excited for people to watch this because I think on surface level to most people they’ll think it’s just an adventure movie, but it’s so much more. There’s so many good things to say about it. I guess I asked this at the Paramount, but I’ll ask this to you. What was something that you’ve taken from this movie that you’ll carry with you for the rest of your career? 

SL: I think the experience was different for me then what I usually do. The whole CGI stuff is what I wasn’t really used to, and I don’t really do all the big actiony stuff. But, I actually really love doing my own stunts. I’m not really the most stunt-like person, but I tried to be. I think it’s also a good way of getting in shape is doing all of those running scenes and dodging, which I really ended up learning how to do. I actually didn’t know how to do a somersault until doing this movie. I think it was a very different experience and not something that I was used to but being with all of these people who are basically veterans of the CGI world, and working with them ended up being a really good way of introducing myself into this action fantasy genre. I think that’s what I’ll take away from this movie. 

LM: You’re much braver than me. I did dance for three years and I cannot do a somersault, so that’s a great thing to take away from this. 

SL: *laughing* 

LM: Like I said, I think you’ve done a phenomenal job on this! I’m so happy I was at the world premiere and I’m happy that you guys received all the love. I’m so excited for people to watch Dungeons and Dragons! 

SL: Thank you! I’m so happy you liked it. 

LM: Of course! I loved it.

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves is now playing in theaters. This article was written for SXSW’s Film & TV Festival for 2023.

Leia Mendoza

TX State '24

Leia Mendoza is a national entertainment & culture correspondent and writer at Her Campus, where she writes and talks about the latest entertainment news and pop culture updates. As well as updating timely news, she covers a broad aspect of film, television and music for Her Campus Media. She is also a contributor to Offscreen Central, where she covers award shows and future Oscar contenders. In 2024, she created Director Brat, a website centered around film and television reviews and exclusive industry interviews for the next generation of creatives. In addition, she is a Film Production and Fashion Merchandising student at Texas State University. In the past, she has covered events conducted by Texas State University, Austin Film Festival's On Story, & SXSW. She has conducted interviews for Paramount, MGM, and A24. You can find her in her spare time talking about bridging the worlds of film and fashion together, cinema preservation, indie darlings, and fabulous shopping sequences.