Back in 2017, Sophia Anne Caruso was hired as a model for a trailer of a new book that was coming out. She’d been tapped to show what one of the characters would look like, and while on set that day she met the author, Soman Chainani.
Cut to the pandemic a few years later and she found herself on a Zoom call with director Paul Feig, who was adapting that very same book into a movie. It turned out that Caruso’s portrayal in the trailer had been so spot on, she was hired for the part.
Caruso joins Kerry Washington, Charlize Theron, Michelle Yeoh, Laurence Fishburne and Sofia Wylie in “The School for Good and Evil,” out now on Netflix. The film follows Caruso and Wylie’s characters, two best friends, who are kidnapped and taken to the magical school, where they are thrown into a fight between heroes and villains.
Caruso was skeptical about her character Sophie at the beginning, brushing her off as yet another princess role. But on second look she realized Sophie was anything but.
“She’s got all the glam of a princess and all things we love, but she’s also got a sort of spunk and dark side that is sort of a recurring theme in roles I do,” Caruso says. “I think there are so many reasons to relate to her. She wants to be a good girl. She wants to be a good person, but she’s not. She’s not perfect. She’s kind of like the antihero and she’s that sort of beloved demon — like we all hate her and she does crazy stuff, but we also love her. I guess I see a lot of myself in her imperfection.”
Joining the all-star cast was intimidating, but ultimately empowering for the 21-year-old.
“Kerry Washington and Charlize, Sofia and me, Michelle Yeoh. All the women of this cast really held it together, I feel like. It’s a movie about girls and female friendship and companionship. And I think that as the ladies of the film, we kind of held the fort down,” she says. “We made a really, I think, awesome film, and I couldn’t have done it without all the other women backing me up.”
Prior to the movie, Caruso is best known for her star turn as Lydia Deetz in the Broadway run of “Beetlejuice.” Originally from Spokane, Washington, she moved to New York at just nine years old to pursue acting with her mom, “kind of a quarter in our pockets and a dream,” she says. “Here I am. It is a long road. It’s a lot of hard work.”
Caruso’s parents have home videos of her not just cooing but fully singing as a baby, and her mom, an artist herself, would let her stay home to watch old movies.
“I was nurtured in an artistic sense,” Caruso says. “My mom used to drop me off at the local theater. She called it free babysitting. And I would just sit there and watch.”
In addition to acting, she has gotten more serious about painting lately, having done it for years but finally completed her first pieces this summer. She’s also a musician, having recently released her third single.
Rather than work toward an album, she likes the approach of reaching into her Dropbox and plucking out a single from time to time to release.
“They’re all just so different from each other. I just like the idea of releasing them as singles and really fine tuning how they present themselves,” she says of the singles. “I don’t not have plans for an album, I do. I just am kind of releasing my favorite ones as singles, because they just built up with time. So many years later, it’s like I kind of just want to put them out individually instead of trying to cram it all into one album under one title and stuff. I don’t limit myself to one style or sound. If I’m in the music studio or I’m making music, I kind of just do whatever comes up first. I’m not trying to confine myself to this little box.”