Sophia Di Martino on playing a 'pregnant Princess' in Sweetheart – and what's next for Loki
The Loki star is the “pregnant Princess of Dunstable” in new movie Sweetheart – but she’s keeping quiet about her MCU future.
An indie film set in a near-deserted caravan park might not be the obvious next move for Sophia Di Martino.
After finding international fame in Marvel’s Disney Plus hit Loki, we might have expected to see her in a bit part in a James Bond movie, perhaps, or maybe a guest spot on Line of Duty – but instead she’s playing the pregnant sister of a troubled teenager in Sweetheart, a hazy coming-of-age drama where she’s not even listed as one of the top three billed characters.
Still, there’s a good reason for this. Di Martino filmed Sweetheart in September 2019, months before anyone had a hint of her starry superheroic future. Since then, she’s had a baby, gained a Marvel wiki page and (more or less) overnight superstardom. Suffice to say, she’s ending her Sweetheart journey in a very different place from where she began it.
“It just goes to show how long it takes to get an indie film made!” Di Martino laughs when I bring this up over Zoom. “Obviously COVID has slowed things down. But it’s actually really nice to have gone away and done Loki, and then come back, and to promote this indie film, which is a super-important story. It’s nice. It’s great to have both things going on.”
Certainly, Di Martino’s elevated profile will have brought more attention to this film than it might have otherwise had, a fact she’s sanguine about.
“Loki has possibly helped, yeah,” she says. “And anything I can do to promote an indie film…"
A personal project from writer/director Marley Morrison, Sweetheart follows a young girl called AJ (Nell Barlow) who’s forced onto a dreary holiday with her family, only to discover love and self-confidence with a female lifeguard working at the camp.
“It’s such a heart-warming, funny, cool film, and unlike the usual coming-out story, or your usual coming-of-age story,” Di Martino says.
“It’s a tiny budget, and I think six years of Marley Morrison’s life have been spent trying to get this film out there. So much blood, sweat and tears have been put into this. Anything I can do to support it and get it out there is just wonderful.
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“I also really believe in the film, because I think it’s just a triumph, especially knowing how little they had to make it. Michelle, the producer, is just a genius. I don’t know how they managed it, honestly.”
In the film, Di Martino plays Lucy, who she describes as the “pregnant princess of Dunstable” and “totally in her own world”.
“Lucy is the elder sister of AJ, who’s the main character,” she explains. “She’s the centre of the universe. She’s kind of just exasperated by her annoying teenage sister. She’s kind of ridiculous but a lot of fun.”
Helpfully, at the time Di Martino was actually pregnant in real life, which presumably helped with the film’s micro-budget – though surprisingly, this was a complete coincidence, and didn’t influence Lucy’s character as written.
“It was a real bump!” she tells me. “It was just really good timing. Just a happy sort of coincidence that I was actually pregnant."
She added: “When Marley told me there was a part in her feature, I was super-excited to do it, and to work with her again. But I was a little bit worried because I was, you know, three months pregnant, and I didn’t know if that would sort of ruin things, because I would have a bump by the time we were filming.
“And then she went on to explain that the character is also eight months pregnant. I said, ‘I have to play this part! I’m going to save you money on a prosthetic bump!’”
More recently, Di Martino made headlines when she revealed that her costumers on Loki had helped design her outfit to help breastfeed her newborn. Despite her positive experiences on Loki and Sweetheart, she notes that, on the whole, the TV and film industry isn’t set up too well for new parents (her partner Will Sharpe is also an actor, and directs for film and TV).
“Unfortunately, the workplace isn’t set up for parents at all,” she says. “And that includes breastfeeding mothers. It was a challenge to do that, and it was all about just figuring out what we needed to do to make it happen. But I think most workplaces are not set up for parents.
“And that includes men as well. Trying to get home for bedtime isn’t always possible. So much needs to change. I could talk about it all day with flexible working hours, and the cost of childcare, which is a big thing at the moment.
“If you want to keep people working in any industry, you’ve got to make it more accessible to people who have children, because, otherwise, you know, you’re going to lose them. And it doesn’t need to be that way.”
She adds: “I’m very lucky in the way that my job on Loki supported me as much as they could, from the costume to, you know, actually being able to bring my baby to work.
“Most people can’t do that. So we’re super-grateful and lucky, even though things still need to change and more needs to be done for the majority of people.”
While she’s happy to broach all sorts of topics in our conversation, Di Martino is more guarded speaking about her future in Loki. When I bring up the already-confirmed second season, her smile drops, and she retreats into herself, clearly weighing what she can and can’t say about it.
“Honestly, I know very little,” she says. “I don’t think — I don’t even know if they’ve started writing it yet. Honestly, I have no idea. I mean, I’d love to be involved, but I’m going to kind of… I’m going to have to wait and see, just like everyone.”
Certainly it seems impossible that her character, Sylvie – an alternate-timeline version of Tom Hiddleston’s Loki, and essentially the co-lead of the series – will take a back seat when it returns, especially given where the series ended (spoiler alert – Sylvie may have accidentally created the multiverse).
And even if she hadn’t had such a central role in the story, the fast-rising popularity of the character means Marvel would be fools to sideline her whenever Loki does come back.
“It was surreal and overwhelming at times,” Di Martino tells me, “but really lovely, just to see how much the fans were engaging.
“And a new audience has been brought in as well. You know, lots of people watched Loki that don’t usually watch that kind of show. That was really nice to see. People seem to really like Sylvie, and it inspired a lot of fan art and kind of edits that people do. It’s just amazing to see it all, really.”
Presumably it couldn’t be further away from a project like Sweetheart?
“Obviously there are differences, working on an indie film,” she agrees. “It’s a much smaller crew. There are less people. So you get more chance to spend it with everyone. You know, you get to hang out with everyone, really, that’s on the cast and crew.
“Whereas on a bigger show, there’s just more people. You just don’t get to spend that much time with people. You don’t get to learn everyone’s name, which is a shame, really. But at the end of the day, it’s quite similar, because it’s just people who are really clever and talented and passionate about making it as good as possible. The process is similar.
“You all just want to make it as good as you can. You muck in, and you work hard, and then you’re just trying to make the days.”
Looking ahead, she’s generally quite cagey about what’s next for her career, whether that means more Loki, or other roles she’s been offered in the wake of this new success.
“There’s nothing that I’m allowed to talk about,” she laughs. “I mean, there are exciting things coming, but I can’t really blab about anything. Yeah – so, there will be stuff. I’m not going to disappear.
“There might be a little thing that [Sweetheart director] Marley and I are working on, yes. There’s definitely been some conversations, some meet-ups. Yeah, definitely, I’d love to work with her again. I think she’s brilliant. I’m definitely along for the ride with Marley.”
Presumably, some of these secret projects are on more of a Loki scale – and who knows, maybe Bond 27 or AC-12 have her card marked already – but for now, fans will just have to wait and see what’s next for the erstwhile Lady Loki. Certainly, she’s not keen on giving up her indie movie credentials just yet.
“That’s the dream, isn’t it?" she says. "To be able to, you know, pay the bills, and, at the same time, work on really wonderful films and important stories like Sweetheart.
“I mean, the writing on Loki is great as well, though,” she adds hastily. “I just want to work on great projects, and to do a mixture of things is always great.”
She laughs a little. “Though I mean, I just take what I’m given.
“You know, being an actor, or any kind of artist, I guess you can’t really have a plan. You never know what’s going to happen. You just have to go along with it, and keep working hard, and keep hoping that you’ll be offered work, and you can pay your bills. When something like [Loki] happens for me, it’s always just a really lovely surprise and opportunity. I just run with it, and say yes.
“It’s just been a really lovely surprise, really. The whole thing. The whole career, from the first time I got paid for acting, right up until now – it’s just been a really nice surprise.”