This article is presented by Paramount Pictures.
Sophia Lillis is no stranger to fantasy, having played the lead in the 2020 film Gretel & Hansel. But while that film had her primarily in a realistic world where fantasy rudely intruded, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves has Lillis completely surrounded by the fantastic, both in special effects and immersive sets—and her very own set of horns. Lillis spoke with Den of Geek about playing Doric and what it’s like to see herself turn into an owlbear.
Den of Geek: You play Doric, a tiefling druid. What can you tell us about her?
Sophia Lillis: Out of the group, she’s kind of the straight man. Everyone else is a thief or an outlaw. She’s more lawful good. She’s the one keeping everything together instead of going out of control and spiraling and failing. She helps things move along if things get too crazy. It was actually a relief for me because all of the comedy aspects were left to the experts like Chris Pine, Regé-Jean Page, and Hugh Grant. My humor, I suppose, was very deadpan.
How did the party wrangle her in if she does not want to be involved with the chaos?
They had similar objectives. In order for her to do what she wants, she felt, “I suppose it’s necessary for me to help you guys on your journey because I want you to succeed and it doesn’t seem like you would succeed without me.”
What kind of makeup process did you have to go through?
It did make my day start a little bit earlier than usual. I wore a wig; underneath it was this contraption that went around my head that had two magnets toward the end. [There were] two holes in the wig that they’d plop little magnetic horns right on top. For the ears, it was just simple prosthetics. I thought they were a lot of fun. The only problem is, when I do stunt work—and mostly for Doric, it’s just rolling around and dodging things—the horns do plop right off.
What about your tail?
It was not on my body—it was added on afterward, so I actually forgot that I had a tail until they reminded me! A lot of the shots are just my upper body, and then you see a little bit of [the tail, and think], oh, there it is!
Doric turns into an owlbear; what was your part of that special effects work?
Basically, I crouched down, I turned into an animal, and then I was done for the day. I was happy with how it turned out. There was always that [question] in my mind, how would they do that realistically? Would my face elongate into something? They did a very, very, very good job.
It was really fun to see the whole movie put together, because they did as much with practical effects as they possibly could.
What about things like jumping into the gelatinous cube?
There was one scene where I put my hand in something, and they had a jello-screen—so basically, they did technically make a gelatinous almost-cube! It just needed all the other sides to it. But yes, they covered us up with some sort of gel and had us behind a green screen.
Was most of the film green screen, or was there a lot of location work?
They built all the sets—there’s this place where we were underground and in a fiery plane. They really wanted to make this as realistic as they could for us. They built the Dragonborn with animatronic heads; people were playing the characters, and a puppeteer would move the mouth as the person was speaking. We were also shooting in Northern Ireland, in awesome, old castles. Getting to be on location was a lot of fun.
Do you have a favorite prop?
If I had to choose one, it would be the weapon I use, which is an arm slingshot. I have terrible aim. I thought “I’m going to break this camera at some point, and it’ll all be my fault.” Luckily, that didn’t happen, although I have accidentally hit some people on set. They did not give me anything hard to throw, so don’t worry about that—they’re ok!
How much background did you have with Dungeons & Dragons before the film?
I played a bit in high school. I’ve actually never finished a campaign, but I love D&D and I’ve loved that world. When you’re playing the game, you think, “I would love to see this animated.” They did it for Vox Machina! Everyone wants to see [their games] animated or made into a movie or a comic book. Making a D&D movie made so much sense. I definitely wanted to be a part of it.
Which character from the film would you like to take out for a drink at a tavern?
Definitely Michelle Rodriguez’s character, Holga, because she’s very rowdy, definitely the most fun.
Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves will be released in theaters on March 31.