Sofia Carson And KJ Apa Were Heavily Involved In The Screenwriting Process For "Songbird"
The songbird isn't a WHAT, but a WHO.
Earlier this week, Sofia Carson sat down with me — don't worry, it was via Zoom — to talk about her upcoming film, Songbird. Our conversation ranged from surprising things she learned about costar/onscreen love interest KJ Apa, how Angelina Jolie in Salt was the inspiration for her character in the latter half of the film, and, overall, how involved she was in the production and filming process. Here's everything we learned:
FIVE things Sofia Carson learned about KJ Apa:
1. "[KJ] as an actor is really hands on — he really cares for the roles that he takes on. We were partners in this, so it was really enjoyable to experience it together."
FUN FACT: Sofia and KJ's scenes were shot over the course of a single week.
2. "He loves coffee. LOVES black coffee and he drinks a lot of them."
3. "He loves his beard. He had a really big, long beard when I first met him right before we started shooting, and they had him cut it down and it was a traumatizing experience. [Writer's note: Sofia was being glib.] He still misses it, but he was okay with the new beard."
4."He is a musician at heart — he loves music and could talk about it forever. One of his favorite songs is 'Hallelujah' by Jeff Buckley. Our first connection was music — I showed him some of my performances, and he showed me some of his favorite [songs]."
5. "His [full] name is Keneti James."
FOUR things Sofia Carson did to prepare for her role as Sara in Songbird:
FUN FACT: There's a scene in the film where Sara puts her hair up into a braid and removes the hoodie she's wearing to reveal a white tank top. This was Sofia's idea to include in the movie because she was inspired by Lara Croft in Tomb Raider.
1. "One of my favorite things that I got to do in the role — and that's thanks to our director, Adam Mason — [was that] he wanted us — KJ and I — to have a voice in Nico and Sara. So, he didn't tell us who Sara and Nico were [before the events of the film] — he wanted us to write their story. So, before we started shooting, I sat down that weekend and I wrote Sara's story from start to finish. Where she was born, who her mother was, her relationship with her mom, what her fears are, how she met Nico — everything that made Sara who she is in order to bring her to life."
2. "The second thing I did was that I did the same thing with KJ['s character]. We got together that weekend, that Saturday, and we spent the whole day bringing our love story to life: the first moment Sara and Nico met, the thing about Sara that made Nico fall for her — someone he's never seen, only someone he's heard through the door."
3. "I made a playlist for Sara and Nico and I called it 'Our Playlist.' In my mind, it was something that they had made together." [Writer's note: some of the songs included were Jeff Buckley's "Hallelujah" — KJ's fave — and Oasis' "Songbird" — which, apropos.]
4. "This is a Michael Bay movie, so even though Sara is a prisoner in her own home, I never wanted her to feel like a 'damsel in distress' or like she was just waiting for Nico to save her, because that wasn't the case. I don't wanna give ~too much~ away, but towards the end of the film, there are some more action-type sequences and I studied Salt starring Angelina Jolie and Mission Impossible to get into that action mindset."
THREE of Sofia Carson's favorite characters in Songbird:
FUN FACT: Sofia revealed that the songbird isn't a what, but a who, and that person is Sara. She is the warrior of hope.
1. "I might be biased, but I adore Sara. Not just because I have the privilege of playing her, but because of what she symbolizes — which is hope."
2. "I adore Nico — not just because Sara is in love with with him — but because I love his character. I love how in the face of so much fear and loss...he also never loses hope."
3. "I love Dozer [Paul Walter Hauser]. I love his storyline — how he's an injured soldier who was a hero, turned underdog, and ended up becoming a hero again in the end."
TWO of Sofia Carson's favorite BTS moments from the set of Songbird:
FUN FACT: To get better into the mindset of their characters, Sofia sang KJ a lullaby through the door that separated them.
1. "My first day on set was a really emotional scene between Nico and Sara — the one with their hands pressed against either side of the door as if they were touching. And we didn't even discuss this beforehand, but for some reason, [KJ and I] both kind of stayed away from each other during the day because we wanted our scenes to feel so real — that we hadn't seen each other, that we hadn't touched, that we had ZERO interaction with one another other than through the door [that separated our characters]. We would actually touch our fingers underneath the door to show that we were there for one another — that's the most we could do."
2. "We would often rewrite scenes in Sara's living room — me, KJ, and Adam [the director] — and it really gave us a voice."
ONE of Sofia Carson's favorite scenes from Songbird:
1. "The final scene — the climax. It just felt so exhilarating because of how it was shot. Everything happened at the same exact time, so it was actually as if I was being pulled out of the car, surrounded by [men in] hazmat suits, [Nico's] motorcycle was circling around — all of it was happening in real time, for 10 minutes at a time and it was so thrilling. And when [Sara and Nico] finally touched and their lips touched...it was magical."
Thanks for chatting with us, Sofia! Be sure to check her out in Songbird, available in theaters and VOD now.