Interview: Sofia Oxenham On Extraordinary Season 2
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Interview: Sofia Oxenham On Extraordinary Season 2

Extraordinary season 2 is streaming now on Disney+

Disney+’s breakout British comedy Extraordinary is finally back for season two – and we can’t wait to get stuck in. If you haven’t watched season one yet, Extraordinary centres on Jen (Máiréad Tyers), an ordinary 25-year-old who is one of the only people in the world who didn’t develop a superpower when she turned 18. Alongside her best friend Carrie (Sofia Oxenham) and Carrie’s boyfriend Kash (Bilal Hasna), Jen grapples to find out what her power should be, and how exactly she can will it into being. Picking up where season one left off, we’re expecting season two to be just as laugh-out-loud wacky, with Sofia delivering a stand-out performance as Sofia, a young woman who can channel the spirits of the dead. We sat down with Sofia to chat all things Extraordinary season two, plus everything else she’s getting up to.

Interview: Sofia Oxenham

Sofia Oxenham

© Klara Waldberg

Hi Sofia, how’s life going at the moment?

Life is good. I’ve just got back from India which was a really incredible experience. I’ve never been before and found it such an interesting place.

You’re about to appear in the second series of Extraordinary on Disney+ – can you give us a quick introduction to the show for any readers who haven’t seen it before?

Extraordinary is a comedy show written by Emma Moran. It follows 25 year old Jen (Máiréad Tyers), who is the only ordinary person in a world where everyone develops super powers on their 18th birthday.

What can we expect from series 2?

You can expect some great new characters, some hilarious new situations and some wild costumes. And of course fantastic writing from Emma!

You play Carrie – can you describe her?

Carrie is naturally quite reserved and shy and likes to play by the rules. She’s hardworking, compassionate and kind. She always thinks of others before herself which means she doesn’t always stand up for herself much to her own detriment. However, in the second season, she begins to discover who she is, what she values and what is important to her. So it’s an empowering trajectory.

What is it like playing her?

It’s so fun playing her. Her power is to channel the dead so, as well as playing her, I also get to play the people she channels. This is such an opportunity for me: to take on cameo roles of characters I would never normally be cast as such as Hitler, Charles II and a 50 year old country singer! So it’s nice to give those things a go, and it means that every day really is different.

How did you get into character/prepare for the role?

I read the script a lot to begin with! And then we had an incredible rehearsal period with two acting coaches and our director, Toby MacDonald. We spent time getting to know each other first and forming relationships and a connection. We then started to tackle our characters and figure out how we all related to each other and what was the world we were building. We did lots of improvisations and activities. They provided a really safe, explorative environment so much of the prep was done in the room. It was the first time I had worked this way but I found it so useful.

Any funny stories from rehearsals or filming?

When we were workshopping and doing bonding exercises before the first series, Bilal (who plays Kash) and I were given the task of making a poster asking for the return of a missing cat to get us working together in character. So we designed the poster and then had to go around various shops in East London asking them to put it in their windows (in character). I got so over involved with the task that I ended up putting my real telephone number on the poster as a point of contact… And only realised once they were up all over Whitechapel. Surprisingly, no one actually called. No stray cats reported that day, obviously.

I can’t tell you how many funny scenes we had working with the animals. They were all incredible and highly talented, but getting a cat to perform on cue is a challenge as you can imagine. And because of the nature of the show, every day is pretty fun. The directors let us improvise a lot, which always creates some funny moments.

Are you still in touch with any of your co-stars?

Yeah…. We see each other all the time and have become really close friends. We go on a trip straight after we wrap. Our last destination was Wales where we all went surfing in the rain. That was really special.

It’s all about superpowers – if you could have any superpower what would it be?

I’d like invisibility. I love people watching, but always get told off for staring, so I think that would be the perfect coverup. Or maybe the superpower that you never overthought anything. Wouldn’t that be blissful?

You’ve also got A Very Royal Scandal coming up – can you tell us a bit about that?

Yes! The series follows Emily Maitlis’ professional and personal journey as a Newsnight journalist, leading up to her acclaimed interview with Prince Andrew. Michael Sheen plays Prince Andrew and Emily Maitlis is played by Ruth Wilson. I grew up watching them, so it was pretty surreal to get to work with them.

What is it like playing a real person? Did it change how you prepared?

I always feel a sense of responsibility with every character I play but I was particularly worried as this person, Princess Eugenie, actually exists. So I felt I had to get her ‘right’, but our director Julian Jarrold reassured us that this was not an impersonation and to try to create the character with the knowledge we had of the person. It was our version set in the world of this story. That was really freeing. I watched lots of documentaries and read many books and articles about how they lived and then took it from there.

Sofia Oxenham

© Klara Waldberg

You’ve also starred in the likes of Poldark and Cursed, but what has been your favourite project to date?

It’s tricky to say because they have all been so different and I’ve loved something about each of them. Poldark was filmed in Cornwall, so it was amazing to be filming where I am from and it was also only my second job. Cursed was so epic, the scale was unbelievable. But Extraordinary will always hold a special place in my heart. There’s a special energy between everyone that works on it and it really feels like a family. Also, because it’s a comedy, it means you are laughing all day, which is the best way to spend the day.

Any other roles in the pipeline that you’re excited about? (If you’re allowed to tell us!)

Sadly, nothing that I can talk about yet. But hopefully soon!

Which co-star did you learn the most from?

I learnt a lot of different things from all of them. I’m fascinated by watching the way different people work. I find it so interesting, and try to learn from everyone on set. But in particular, I didn’t know much about the world of clowning until I met Luke Rollason who plays Jizzlord. He introduced me to it and also physical comedy.

What’s a genre you’d like to do more of?

Ooh… I’d like to do maybe a horror film and also a western. Maybe both at the same time? That would certainly suit my rather awful equestrian skills.

Do you live in the town or the country? Which do you prefer?

I live in London but I’m from Cornwall. I think I will always be a Cornish girl at heart. The sea makes me feel immediately relaxed but I love the accessibility London provides and there are so many cool things to see and do. And all my siblings live in London at the moment, so that’s also a big plus.

What’s your interior design style?

I’m still figuring it out. It changes quite a lot. At the moment I’m liking cosy but minimalist. But I do quite like it tidy as clutter makes me feel stressed (note to my flatmate).

How do you find balance in your personal and work lives?

Exercise, and time with friends and family. Oh, and sleep. Everything’s better after a good nights sleep. Watching films and reading are fantastic downtime pursuits too.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?

I think initially an astronaut, which seems quite bizarre to me now because I can be a nervous flyer, so that would have been a terrible choice. Maybe my science abilities might have been a drawback too. Not sure where that one came from – maybe the spacesuit was the lure.

If you could give advice to your 15-year-old self, what would it be?

Care less what other people think. Be brave and ease up a bit on the tinted moisturiser.

How can we all live a little bit better?

I think we can all live a bit better by spending time in nature and being kind and thinking outside ourselves.

Anything fun in the pipeline – professionally or personally?

I’d quite like to learn how to play the saxophone. Ear plugs might have to be provided for the neighbours.

Sofia Oxenham

© Klara Waldberg

Sofia Oxenham Recommends…

I’m currently watching… True Detective with Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson.

What I’m reading… Just Kids, Patti Smith’s autobiography. Which is epic.

The last thing I watched (and loved) was… The Bear!

What I’m most looking forward to seeing… Jonathan Glazers new film The Zone of Interest

Favourite film of all time… It changes but, at the moment, I can’t stop thinking about Anatomy of a Fall.

My ultimate cultural recommendation… Soho theatre. They always have the best late night shows.

Cultural guilty pleasure… It’s not really a guilty one – if anything, I’m proud – but I’m completely and utterly obsessed with Louis Theroux documentaries.

WATCH

Sofia Oxenham stars as Carrie in Extraordinary. Extraordinary S2 is streaming from March 6 on Disney+. Stream the first series now on Disney+ or ITVX. disneyplus.com