×

Soko: International Star You Should Know

French singer-songwriter-actress enjoys a challenge, and she doesn’t really care about fame

BREAKTHROUGH ROLES

Soko received a Gallic Cesar nomination for female newcomer for Xavier Giannoli’s “In the Beginning” (2009), and played the younger version of the Beatrice Dalle character in helmer Virginie Despentes’ “Bye Bye Blondie” (2011), in which she described her role as “a punk lesbian who spent time in a mental institute.”

CLAIM TO FAME

Born in Bordeaux, France, but based in Los Angeles, the raven-haired talent has generated buzz for her title role in “Augustine,” based on a real-life maid treated as a hysteric by 19th Century French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot. The film premiered at Cannes in 2012 and opened Stateside May 17. A.O. Scott of the New York Times called the film “intellectually satisfying” and described Soko as “grave and luminous as a silent film star.”

DIVIDED LOYALTIES

Soko, born Stephanie Sokolinski, describes herself as a musician first and an actress second. Her debut album, “I Thought I Was an Alien” (Community Music, 2013), on which she plays many of the instruments, has generated acclaim in France and is being released in the U.S. on June 11. It’s the kind of fragile-yet-forthright, highly personal statement one might associate with Chan Marshall (aka Cat Power) but with a dash of Bjork’s eccentricities. She’s been working on the followup, “My Dreams Dictate My Reality,” since November.

VIVE LA INDIFFERENCE

For a rising film star, the 27-year-old is remarkably blase about her career prospects, or keeping the fame flame alive. When she trekked to the Mar del Plata Film Festival in Argentina, she didn’t stick around to accept the actress award for “Augustine,” but hightailed it to Buenos Aires where she headlined an impromptu gig with members of Pulp as her backing band. “I don’t have that thing where I need to be out there for people to remember me; or to consider every offer to make sure I make money,” she says. “So unless it’s something super-challenging and vital, I’m not interested.”

PET PEEVES

Although she leans toward music, Soko calls herself a movie junkie who hates violence and horror. “To me, ‘Black Swan’ was like a horror film; I couldn’t even watch it.” Her likes? Comedies, historical dramas, Robin Williams (who reminds her of her father, whom she lost at age 5) and the films of Todd Solondz and John Waters.

TESTIMONIAL

“Soko is an actress who likes to put herself in danger; jump without a net,” says “Augustine” director Alice Winocour. “She was on set with me like a fighter. She was very intuitive and I often used the first take. We created her character together.”

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • 'Elephant' Review: Less Majestic Than the

    'Elephant,' Narrated by Meghan Markle: Film Review

    Of all the members of the animal kingdom we think of as akin to humans — chimps, dolphins, whales, perhaps (if we’re being honest about it) our dogs — elephants may be the most movingly and preternaturally aware. Because you can see how intelligent they are. You see it in a chimp’s face, too, of [...]

  • Ken Shimura

    Ken Shimura Japanese Comedian Dies of Coronavirus Age 70

    Ken Shimura, a comedian who was a fixture on Japanese television for decades, died on Sunday evening from the coronavirus, the Japanese media reported Monday. He was 70, and immediately before his illness had been set for his first starring role in a feature film. Shimura entered a Tokyo hospital on March 20 with fever [...]

  • Gerard Schurmann, Film and TV Composer,

    Gerard Schurmann, Film and TV Composer, Dies at 96

    Gerard Schurmann, whose 1960s film scores included “The Bedford Incident” and “Dr. Syn, Alias the Scarecrow” but who also composed extensively for the concert hall, died March 24 at his home in the Hollywood Hills. The cause of death was not announced; he was 96. Schurmann’s death was announced by his music publisher, Novello & [...]

  • Rita And Tom Hanks Coronavirus

    Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson Return to U.S. After Coronavirus Diagnosis in Australia

    Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson are back home in the U.S. after they revealed they had contracted coronavirus and were quarantined in Australia. Hanks gave an update on Twitter Saturday morning, thanking everyone who had helped them in Australia and assuring people that they are still isolating themselves in the U.S. “Hey, folks…We’re home now [...]

  • Film Comment Magazine Goes on Hiatus

    Film Comment Magazine to Go on Hiatus as Film at Lincoln Center Lays Off Half of Staff

    Many companies are being financially impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, and the Film at Lincoln Center is the latest organization to have to lay off employees and pause some of their operations. On Friday, executive director Lesli Klainberg released a memo announcing that the center had to furlough or lay off about half of its [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content