Q&A: Frankie Corio speaks about her debut acting role in ‘Aftersun’

Frankie Corio sat down with WSN to talk about her first feature film, favorite actors and artists, and plans for the future.

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Frankie Corio debuts as Sophie in her youth in the film “Aftersun.” (Courtesy of A24)

Stephanie Wong, Film & TV Editor

“Aftersun” notably features the debut role of 12-year-old child actress Frankie Corio, who plays Sophie in her youth. The film tells the story of a woman, Sophie, reminiscing on her childhood summer trip on the Turkish coast with her father (Paul Mescal). 

Charlotte Wells’ debut feature film, “Aftersun,” has garnered widespread critical praise and firmly marked her as one of the most promising up-and-coming indie Scottish filmmakers of the past decade. Similarly, the naturalistic performance from Corio has drawn worldwide acclaim, leaving many excited to see where the young actress’ career will lead next.

[Read more: NYFF 60 Review: ‘Aftersun’ is a tender exploration of the intimate space between a daughter and father]

Corio sat down with WSN after the film’s debut at 60th New York Film Festival to talk about her first experience in the limelight, her influences and her favorite song by Olivia Rodrigo.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

WSN: How did it feel attending the premiere of your first film?

Corio: I just loved going to Cannes — that was amazing. It was my first ever premiere. And then Edinburgh, all my family and my mom’s friends got to be there too. That, and everything, really has just been amazing. And obviously, going to the festival here in New York, it’s probably been the best one by far.

WSN: Is this your first time in New York?

Corio: Yeah! First time in America, even.

WSN: What’s been your biggest highlight since arriving here?

Corio: My highlight is all of it. Everything here is just so much cooler than it is back home.

WSN: Your performance in “Aftersun” just blew me away. Who do you cite as your main influences when it comes to acting?

Corio: I absolutely love Millie Bobby Brown. I watch her stuff a lot, especially when she does crying scenes. I always take tips from them. Obviously, Paul as well — it’d be kind of hard not to have him as an influence. Paul, Charlie, Millie — all the “Stranger Things” characters, actually.

WSN: Are you a big “Stranger Things” fan?

Corio: Yes. Definitely.

WSN: Who’s your favorite character?

Corio: Probably Eleven or Max. 

WSN: Those are good choices. So what was the process like being cast in “Aftersun”? How did you get involved with the film initially?

Corio: My mom was the first to see it — I don’t know what they’re called — it was one of those casting calls. It asked for a short, tomboyish girl between 10 and 12. No acting experience was needed. My mom sent in a photo of me and the production people just kept coming back, until I went to Glasgow for an audition. The next day, I came back to Glasgow and then found out I got the part, which was just so exciting.

WSN: Before this, you’ve never acted? 

Corio: Never.

WSN: Did you always want to start acting?

Corio: The thing is, I never really knew that you could just start acting. It was kind of like stuff you’d see on Nickelodeon, with all the American people acting. I was definitely never like, “Yes, I’m going to do acting,” and more so like, “It’d be cool if I could I guess. I don’t know how.”

WSN: As of this moment, do you want to pursue acting in the future?

Corio: Yes, definitely.

WSN: Is there anyone that you really want to work with — such as directors or other actors?

Corio: I don’t really know many directors but obviously, for actors, Millie Bobby Brown is one for sure. I mean, if Olivia Rodrigo counts as an actor… she was an actor when she was younger.

WSN: What’s your favorite song of hers?

Corio: Probably “deja vu.” 

WSN: That’s a good one. To go back to “Aftersun,” what do you think was the biggest challenge you encountered while filming?

Corio: The karaoke scene. When I had to sing that — what was it called — R.E.M. song. I hated it. I could not do it. It was so nerve-wracking. There were so many people there. We had two weeks before to practice and get set up, so Charlie would sometimes go up to me and try to get me to rehearse the song, but I never, ever, sang the full thing until the day before filming. I remember thinking “I’m doing it one time, and then we’re leaving.” 

WSN: Was it all done in one take?

Corio: One and a half. One was a full run, and then we tried to shoot it again, but then my hours were up so we couldn’t really continue. 

WSN: What about your favorite scenes to film?

Corio: I loved the scene with all the teenagers when Sophie gets to jump in the pool. I think we got to do that one twice, maybe. I loved filming that scene. I also loved filming the scene where Sophie sings “Happy Birthday” to Calum — I can’t remember what that bit is called — but I loved going there and running up and down the stairs, whispering to everyone “Come down, it’s my dad’s birthday!” 

WSN: The rapport that you have with Paul in the film is so natural and authentic. Did you and Paul do anything outside of filming to help develop a father-daughter bond?

Corio: Yes, we had two weeks of rehearsal and preparation before shooting. That was really used for bonding and getting to know each other. Charlie would be there for us to go through and rehearse the script — not the full thing, but some bits of it. Most of the time, Charlie had to go away for something, which gave me and Paul the chance to swim in the pool, play pool, mostly learn to play pool because I was terrible. We sometimes went out and got ice cream, waffles and pancakes. I remember we also went into the sea one day, when it was super high and the waves were just crazy. In those two weeks we really got to build a good bond. Paul is super easy to get along with, so it wasn’t that hard. 

WSN: Did you watch any of Paul’s performances, like in “Normal People,” when you found out you’d be working with him?

Corio: I saw clips of it when I found out who he was — not the dodgy ones, obviously. 

WSN: Did you watch anything in preparation for filming?

Corio: No, not really. I didn’t even get to read the script, either. Charlie wanted me to not really know what was happening with Calum, so I wasn’t allowed to read the full script. But I think it helped everything end up super natural. She never told me what it was all based around or what was happening. 

WSN: How does your family feel about your recent performances?

Corio: They’re so happy. When I went to the Edinburgh International Film Festival, all my grandparents and friends got to watch it for the first time. It was all so crazy, and everyone was so happy. My parents and my family are very excited for me, I’m super excited for myself.

Contact Stephanie Wong at [email protected]