Also Journal


Frankie Corio

Interview 01.07.24

Photographer Giulia Frigieri Stylist Rachel Caulfield Writer Gilda Bruno

Hoodie – acne studios

Knitted top – KADILL

Shorts – Samsoe and Samsoe

Trainers – Acne Studios 

Interview and words by Gilda Bruno

Scottish breakthrough star Frankie Corio was only 12 when she took the world by storm as the empathetic, high-spirited Sophie in Charlotte Wells’ feature film debut Aftersun, playing opposite Paul Mescal’s Calum. Her undaunted and sensitive portrayal of a fresh-faced, struggling father’s pubescent daughter earned her over 20 accolades, including a Best Actress win at the BAFTA Scotland Awards. Here she talks to Also about her serendipitous discovery of acting, the highs and lows of teenagehood and what she learnt on set.

Thanks for making some time to speak with me today, Frankie.

How has your day been so far?

It has been good, thank you. I have just got back from school, but fair enough. I have got my last day of S2 tomorrow!

Exciting! Do you feel relieved?

A little bit, actually. School is [rolls her eyes] argh

Shirt – Tory Burch

Skirt and jacket – Wales Bonner

Sunglasses – Gucci

Boots – Tretorn 

Let’s jump straight into it: what does a day in the life of Frankie Corio look like?

Well! I get up, film get-ready-with-me videos for my close friends on Snapchat where I am like, “oh my God guys, today I have science” and then I go to school. What do I do at school? I don’t really know… I hang out with my friends. After that, I come home and if I have any self tapes to do, then I probably lie to my mum telling her that I know all the lines [laughs] when, in reality, I will be sitting up in my room practising them over and over again till I am good at them. Sometimes it takes really long, sometimes it goes really quick. And then what else do I do? Oh yes! On Fridays, I go to drama classes, and I guess that is it.

What is another passion of yours people don’t know about?

I really love football. I go to an after school club with my best friend who doesn’t even play; she just comes along and lists what boys are the fastest. There used to be another girl but since she left, I am the only one, so my best friend joins me as moral support. She always goes, “he is not that fit”, or “OMG, he just smiled at me”. It makes me chuckle.

Shirt – dries van noten

Tights – stylists own 

What is the best thing about being 13 years old? What is the worst one?

The best thing is just being a teenager on the whole, because you get to always make new friends and do things you have never done before. Being this young is really exciting; even just going from being 12 to being 13 feels like such a huge jump – everything is constantly changing in and around you, you know? As for the worst thing, I guess it is when people don’t think I am that mature, which I am not of course. I mean, come on, I am only 13 after all. But that is exactly my point: when you are a teen, you are caught between being too mature and being seen as a child. Some people talk to me at awards as if I was an adult, to whom I am like, “hold on, I am literally just a teenager – I don’t even know what you are talking about”. Others treat me as if I was five.

I remember that phase: you feel like you are not old enough to do what you would actually like to do, and too old to continue doing whatever you have been up to until that moment – it can feel frustrating. I have only just realised you have got some Italian blood in you: is that right, Francesca Corio? What is the story behind that?

Oh, God. Honestly, I don’t speak one bit of Italian. I know bella, which should mean beautiful – I remember that one, can’t remember the rest. But basically it is my dad’s side of the family: my great granddad, I think, was Italian. At some point, he and his relatives all moved from Italy to Scotland. Sadly, they lost speaking Italian so even that part of my family all just speaks English now.

Green bow dress by AJE at The Outnet

Floral dress worn underneath by KADILL 

Aftersun is one of those films that sticks with you days after watching it. I was stunned to realise you had never acted before being part of it: how did it all happen?

My mum sent a photo of me to the casting team working on the film. From there, it was just a series of callbacks and callbacks and callbacks… It was only while doing those that I realised how much I enjoyed doing it. One of the biggest memories I have from the audition process is when at some point, during one of the very final callbacks, the guy that did our COVID test revealed to us that there were only eight people left [auditioning for the role]. I remember I went in and they told me, “try and get across the room in a funny way”, so I cartwheeled through it. I remember sitting in this massive chair and them being like, “OK, we need you to do a sad scene”. I don’t even think I was supposed to, but I started crying. There was a lot of random stuff I had to do during those auditions: I had to whisper a story, move around in space… all sorts of things. Most of the time I was just like, “what is this all about?”

You make it sound so easy. Was there ever a time when you felt like you couldn’t do what you were asked to, or were embarrassed about it?

Because it was my first time acting, I needed a lot of reassurance throughout the filming. Charlie, the director, would guide me through the script step by step. She would go like, “you are just going to be walking down the street talking to Paul”. I would keep on asking her, “right, so you literally just want me to say that?” I wanted to be certain about every little detail. A lot of the scenes were easy because they felt really natural. In others, I would be like, “wait, am I doing this right? How am I supposed to be doing this?” There was one scene, which is not even in the film anymore, where I had to cry but I couldn’t. It must have been because I had never done it in front of loads of people. Had they asked me to do that now, I would have been like, “right, big girl pants on – can do this!” But to my little 11-year-old brain it seemed impossible. It was on my birthday as well and clearly didn’t quite work out as planned. They had to put tear stick on me; it was horrendous.

Full look by KADILL

Trainers – Acne Studios 

We tend to forget that scenes that look really intimate on screen were filmed with a huge number of people around; it puts a lot of pressure on actors. How familiar were you with Paul Pescal before joining the film?

Not at all. They were like, “you are going to be acting with this guy called Paul”, and I said, “sound”. I didn’t know who he was, my mum knew him from Normal People but because I was ten at the time, I wouldn’t have watched that anyway.

What was your first impression of him?

It is quite hard to explain. Paul is just a really nice guy and I immediately got along with him. I first saw him when we were at the airport on our way to the film location. It must have been midnight when we met. As we started spending time together, we just got such a deep bond really quickly. He literally just took me and told me, “we are gonna bond”. And we did – we bonded so well. He became my best friend during filming because I was there for two months, which is a very long time for someone my age. We would always hang out: we went out to get waffles, we went out to get ice cream, we even went into the sea together. I feel like he tried really hard to make that work for both of us. And with his effort and me just being me, we ended up becoming really close and I couldn’t be more glad that that happened.

The chemistry you have on screen is proof of that. What was it like to leave Scotland behind for two months to film alongside director Charlotte Wells in Turkey?

I loved every second of it. As much as I didn’t have anyone my age there, I had all these people around me that were so nice, welcoming and supportive and got to do something most people dream to do their whole life for two months straight. I really love Charlie, she is such an incredible director. She knew how to work with me: when we went over the script during the first two weeks, we did a lot of mindfulness, because she understood that otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to shut up for an hour and focus on reading. Though I hated it at first, it did really help in the long run. She was also very good at explaining things to me in a way I would understand, which I appreciated as everyone else was speaking in “adult terms”. Charlie was a real angel on set; she would always make me feel like there was nothing I couldn’t do. Together with Paul, she helped me understand that if offset I could be whoever I wanted to, when it came to filming I needed to be fully present. I wonder if the reason why I enjoy acting so much is because I can play this whole other character for ages.

Were you aware that Aftersun was partly autobiographical for Wells? I guess impersonating her through the character of Sophie must have felt like quite a responsibility.

I knew that the story was kind of sad, but I wasn’t allowed to see any of the intense scenes because they didn’t want that to affect the way I acted as Sophie. Looking back at it now that I have watched it as a whole, it is crazy to think how we pulled it all together into such an incredible film. And while at times it was hard for me to focus as I am constantly buzzing with energy, watching the end result was such a rewarding experience.

What do you think makes a good actor?

Probably being able to know what the story is about, being able to understand how everyone and their characters are feeling, as well as what is going on in specific scenes, while also managing to portray what your own character is going through. In order to be a good actor, you need to be able to think about the scene and how the person you are bringing to life would feel in it – what their place in it is – rather than considering how you would act in that same situation.

Skirt and trousers – Burberry

Shoes and jacket – Acne Studios

T-shirt – Beyond Retro 

What is the biggest misconception people have about this profession?

Oh, that is hard. Maybe that people think that, when you are on set, everything needs to run smoothly and quickly all the time. It is important to know that you can just be yourself when you are filming, too. It is not all stressful and definitely not everything that comes out of it will necessarily be perfect: there will be stuff that gets filmed that won’t be an actor’s best job, and that should be OK as well. At the end of the day, film sets are like one big family; everyone knows each other and looks after one another. It is not all like [claps her hands]: chop, chop, chop – get this done!

I know you love Stranger Things’ actress Millie Bobby Brown. Is there anyone else you look up to in this field?

I am trying to think of people from my generation that I think are crazy good, like Violet and Madeleine McGraw: they are two sisters very close to my age whose acting I find absolutely insane. The same goes for Bella Ramsey, another amazing actor. Though they are a bit older than I am, they are just incredible and have been acting since they were roughly as old as I am. 

Something that really caught my eye since I first came across you are your styling choices. Who are your fashion references and what function do clothes play for you?

See, I don’t even know any fashion people but again, Bella Ramsey’s suits are just so on point. I don’t know where my style came from, I just remember being on set one day when they told me I had to go to an award ceremony, to which I was like “I will wear a suit”. I was with my chaperone and together we drew out a picture of what I would be wearing on that occasion. For some reason, I just knew I wanted it to be a suit. When I was filming Aftersun, I also decided I wanted to cut my hair short, which I eventually did do. I guess you could say I have always been a bit of a tomboy, which I think is cool.

Leather jacket by Acne Studios 

How does wearing a suit make you feel?

As I have gotten older, I have enjoyed being more feminine. But at the time, being in a suit was my comfort place. Had I worn a dress instead, I feel I would have spent the whole evening thinking, “oh, this doesn’t look good” and worrying about it. When I am in a suit, I feel like I can be myself completely, and it is so much more comfortable as well. It just proves that not every woman has to be hyper feminine.

That is exactly how I feel about it. What else would you see yourself doing if not acting?

For a while, I thought I could become a teacher – not a boring kind of teacher though, more like a PE teacher or anything else that allows me to be active. I don’t think I would be able to sit in an office working all day. I want to make sure that, whatever it is I end up doing, it is something I actually enjoy, something that keeps me going.

What would you like people to feel while watching you act?

I want them to think that I am capturing the person I am portraying well – that is the main thing. You know when you have just watched a film and there is that one single scene that stays in your head all the time? I want to be able to have that impact on people, so that they can go, “wow, whatever that was, it was crazy”.

I am in love with the photographs that Giulia Frigieri took of you for this shoot. You are such a natural in front of the camera.

I love doing photo shoots. It is the same as acting: I just get dressed up and pretend to be different things, different people. This photo shoot was especially fun because Giulia gave me a lot of freedom. You see editorials that people do in which they have such straight faces, but I like photo shoots because, being my age, I am just asked to do whatever I want. I can mess around with it, have fun, and I love that. Plus, the makeup: I loved getting my makeup done for this one – it was so cool. Hair and makeup are just the most fun thing ever. Some people are like, “we will keep it natural”, but I actually love it when makeup artists do crazy stuff to me. Okay, maybe not too crazy, but you get what I mean; I enjoy it when they dare to be playful with it – that is how things are meant to be when you are 13 like me.

What is next for you?

I am not sure. At the moment I am just doing a bunch of self tapes and auditions hoping something good will eventually come my way. I know it might take a while, but I am not giving up any time soon. I would really love to do a film or a series for Netflix as it is just so massive and it would be great to see where that leads me.

Putting the word out there – Netflix, are you listening? I am sure it is only a matter of time. My final question is: how would you describe yourself in one sentence?

One sentence? Ah, that is tricky. I can’t think of a sentence, but I can think of a word: full-on. I am hyper energetic and straight up very full-on.

Photographer Giulia Frigieri Stylist Rachel Caulfield Writer Gilda Bruno Talent Frankie Corio Make Up Linda Andersson Hair Brooke Neilson Photographer Assistant Phoebe Somerfield Stylist Assistant Megan Smales
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