Sophia Mitri Schloss stars in Seattle director Megan Griffiths' moody family drama set in an Everett trailer park. It's just the latest big-screen success for the thoughtful, focused Seattle teen, whose stage debut was at age 3.
Megan Griffiths that is amusing, touching — and as chilling as the Everett trailer park in which it is set.You have to remind yourself that Sophia Mitri Schloss isn’t the girl she plays in the title role of “Sadie,” a new film by Seattle writer and director
The film, which opens in New York and Los Angeles (and Olympia) on Oct. 12, and which will play at the Northwest Film Forum from Oct. 19-25, is the story of a young girl who lives with her mother (Melanie Lynskey) and who pines for her father, who is serving in the military somewhere in the Middle East. When the mother becomes involved with a neighbor (John Gallagher Jr.), Sadie does what she can to stop the affair. She is calculating and somewhat diabolical, but also just a kid who doesn’t understand that what she thinks are solutions actually create huge problems for those around her.
So when Mitri Schloss walked into a Greenwood coffee shop one recent rainy afternoon, I didn’t say hello right away, just took her in as she moved toward a table, a wet umbrella in one hand, looking all business and single-minded. Like Sadie.
Then she turned, saw my raised hand and smiled. Like the 15-year-old high-school sophomore she is.
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“It’s such an intense character,” she agreed, settling into a chair with a hot chocolate after school at the Seattle Academy of Arts and Sciences (SAAS). “Sadie is way beyond her years, but also really innocent and has this frame of mind where her actions don’t have consequences. And she finds that she’s very wrong.”
Still, Mitri Schloss found that she had a lot in common with her character.
“Sadie and I are both really driven people and we know …” she said, then turned her head to think for a moment. “We have a vision. I don’t know, I guess ‘vision’ is the best word for it.
“But we’re very different in that she has a ton of stuff going on inside that she doesn’t show to the world,” she said, “because she doesn’t think it will make a difference, or that people will care.”
Mitri Schloss started acting at the age of 3 in productions at the Seattle Children’s Theatre, and later appeared in student films around Seattle.
“I really loved that,” she said. “Learning about the process.”
By the third grade, she had landed the starring role in an NBC comedy pilot called “Isabel,” playing opposite Marcia Gay Harden and Kevin Nealon — and learned an artist’s disappointment when the show wasn’t picked up.
She also had a leading role in Amazon’s “The Kicks,” guest-starred on NBC’s “Grimm,” TNT’s “The Librarians” (“I played a dying girl,” she said. “But it was a fun episode, too.”) and IFC’s “Portlandia.”
Things took a fateful turn a few years ago, when Seattle filmmaker S.J. Chiro cast her in the title role in “Lane 1974,” in which she plays the teenage daughter of a woman (Kate Moennig of “The L Word” and “Ray Donovan”) living in a California commune. She was nominated for Best Actress when the film screened at the Seattle International Film Festival in 2017, and the Huffington Post noted her “riveting screen presence.”
The role not only showed off her talent, it connected her to what she calls “the Seattle film family,” which includes casting director Amey René, who worked with Chiro to cast Mitri Schloss in “Lane 1974” and who was helping Griffiths find a young actress to fill the title role in her new film, “Sadie.”
This is the sixth full-length feature that Griffiths has directed. She wrote and directed the thriller “The Night Stalker”; wrote and directed “Lucky Them,” which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival; and wrote and directed 2012’s “Eden,” which won two awards at South by Southwest. Griffiths had seen Mitri Schloss in “Lane 1974,'” as well as in a 2014 film called “Desert Cathedral” that she filmed three years before. The two met, and a few weeks later, the role was hers. Every morning of the 19-day shoot, Mitri Schloss’ mother drove her to the set, which was a cluster of empty trailers in Everett. It was January, and freezing. But there was Griffiths and Lynskey and Tony Hale from “Veep.” There was John Gallagher Jr. from “The Newsroom” and Danielle Brooks from “Orange Is the New Black.” There was Tee Dennard from “The Librarians” and Keith L. Williams who, like her, is a child actor.
This is the sixth full-length feature that Griffiths has directed. She wrote and directed the thriller “The Night Stalker”; wrote and directed “Lucky Them,” which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival; and wrote and directed 2012’s “Eden,” which won two awards at South by Southwest.
Griffiths had seen Mitri Schloss in “Lane 1974,'” as well as in a 2014 film called “Desert Cathedral” that she filmed three years before. The two met, and a few weeks later, the role was hers.
Every morning of the 19-day shoot, Mitri Schloss’ mother drove her to the set, which was a cluster of empty trailers in Everett. It was January, and freezing.
But there was Griffiths and Lynskey and Tony Hale from “Veep.” There was John Gallagher Jr. from “The Newsroom” and Danielle Brooks from “Orange Is the New Black.” There was Tee Dennard from “The Librarians” and Keith L. Williams who, like her, is a child actor.
The costume designer asked Mitri Schloss what Sadie might wear, which is how the actor came to pull on a pink wool hat every time she left the trailer. It helped her transform.
“I had Sadie in me and I could turn her on and off,” she said. “She’s trying to figure herself out. Trying on a different part of herself.”
“I would go with the things that felt like her,” she said. “Stoic, hard to read and internal.”
It was a challenge for Mitri Schloss, who described herself as “an open person.”
“I love finding things out about other people,” she said. “And I also think that kids make a difference in the world. I hope I’m part of that movement, too. But Sadie doesn’t think anyone cares what kids do. She totally takes things into her own hands.”
Mitri Schloss’ work on the screen has little impact on her life in the halls of SAAS, a private school where she is a member of the singing group The Onions, and where no one makes a big deal about her film and TV credits.
“It’s just who I am,” she said of her acting work. “People are dancers, mathematicians. People have things that they love, and this is mine.”
She also loves to write and sing songs, and has put some of her work out through Spotify.
Her artistic life makes sense, when you consider that her mother, Irene Mitri, is a violinist, and her father, Andrew Schloss, is a professor of electronic and computer music at the University of Victoria. They help her perform and record auditions and have accompanied her to film festivals from Kansas to Los Angeles to Orcas Island.
Does she have her own mileage-plan card?
“I should,” Mitri Schloss said with a laugh.
But that’s the only “should” she’s willing to entertain. She has no big plan, doesn’t fashion her career after anyone’s.
“I don’t want to say what I want to do for the rest of my life,” she said. “I want to keep everything open.”
“I love it right now.”