Role Mommy Talks to the Stars of THE BOOK THIEF

Written by Role Mommy Contributor, Kristin Flannery

Based on the beloved bestselling book, THE BOOK THIEF tells the inspirational story of a spirited and courageous young girl (Sophie Nelisse) who transforms the lives of everyone around her when she is sent to live with a new family (Geoffrey Rush & Emily Waston) in World War II Germany. Rolemommy sat down to discuss the film.
Though audiences might not know SOPHIE NÉLISSE (Liesel) right away, at the young age of 13, she has already won a Genie Award for her performance in Monsieur Lazhar which was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film of the Year in 2012.
Since Sophie is so young but very talented, we wondered how she felt working with a seasoned professional such as Geoffrey Rush. Sophie told us, “Well, it was fun, but at the same time it was kind of hard because you know the scene when Max vomits the soup. I say, “Is he going to be all right?” And then, he would go, “Of course… not.” And that was just so funny. I would do the scene, and you can hear him, he’d go, “Of course.” I would start laughing, and I had to be serious. It was just so fun to work with him and to see how he gets every detail of the scene. I’d be looking at the scene and go, “Okay, so that’s it.” And then, he’s going to go, “No, no, no, why is my character doing this?” Every little detail, like maybe I should throw the spoon or maybe I should do this there or change my legs there, and it’s just how every scene is so detailed. I remember going in rehearsals with him and he had the book with all these little posters saying, “this there,” just underlying all this writing. I’m quite organized myself. I did have a lot of post its saying like, “this scene and this scene,” but I didn’t have any links from the book because I actually didn’t read the book. But he just details everything and it’s really interesting. It’s amazing to just see him work really.”
Sophie even memorized the whole script. She revealed that she would often help Geoffrey remember his lines, “He would stop the scene and go, “I can’t remember what I’m saying.” And so, I’d have to tell him his line but that’s fine.
We were wondering if Sophie has ever stolen anything. Sophie told us a story of when they were filming in Berlin, “I stole some books because it was the birthday of someone on set and I had nothing to buy. There was this shop right in front of the hotel, and I just said, “I’m going to steal some books.” So, I took three random books and left. Eventually, I figured out like a week after that my mom paid for the books. It was kind of a bummer because it like sort of ruined my fun. But at the same time I was happy that she paid for them because I don’t steal.”
Geoffrey let us know that he was in on it, “I said, “I’ll encourage Soph to do it and everything,” but I knew that she’d warned the shop staff. She wanted to do that just to feel the adrenaline.”
A huge part of the theme of the movie is about friendships. We wanted to know what Sophie learned about friendships during the filming of the Book Thief. Turns out, she proved to once again be wise beyond her age, “Oh, that friends are really important and that you don’t have to have many good friends. People just going around saying like, “Oh, I have 500 friends on Facebook,” but no. You only have the good friends you can only count on your hands, you know? And I would say that I have three, three good friends that I know that’ll never change.”
Don’t miss Sophie Nelisse and Geoffrey Rush in their beautiful performances as they bring to life the characters of The Book Thief, an adaptation of Markus Zusak’s 2006 novel of the same title in theaters in limited release November 8th. There is already Oscar buzz surrounding these performances, see for yourself in the latest trailer –