In Elite Daily’s I Can Explain… series, we’re asking celebrities to revisit their most memorable photos and tell us what really went down behind the scenes. In this piece, we chat with Uncharted star Sophia Ali about her role in The Wilds, her early days on Grey’s Anatomy, and following her moral compass.
From playing a dedicated surgical resident on Grey’s Anatomy to starring as a spoiled teen on Amazon’s The Wilds, Sophia Ali is proving to have quite the range as an actor. As it turns out, she’s had to be pretty adaptable IRL as well. She spent her early years living in Dubai before moving with her family to Texas, and had to face the challenges that come with not fitting in at a young age.
“I was made to feel different in some ways, and so I consciously tried to change my voice and change things about me to make myself more accepted,” Ali, who is Indian Pakistani American, tells Elite Daily. “I think, in that process, I sort of realized how people prioritize their views as far as what makes them comfortable. They want to see things that they know that make them comfortable.”
But blending in to make others feel comfortable is no longer a priority of hers. Now, Ali is determined to take on roles that help those who can sometimes feel like outsiders feel seen. Recently, Ali starred in the dramedy India Sweets and Spices, which she says was an opportunity to tell a story that hadn’t been told yet. The film follows Alia Kapur (Ali), an Indian American young woman who explores her desire to live differently from her traditional parents, to hilarious and heartening results.
Now, Ali is preparing for her biggest box office release yet, starring opposite Tom Holland in Uncharted, which hits theaters February 18. She tells Elite Daily it was “a dream” to portray treasure hunter Chloe Frazer alongside such a star-studded cast. “Tom Holland, what a guy. He’s such a nice gentleman and just very, very good at his job. It was such a pleasure to work with Tom and Mark [Wahlberg], and Tati [Gabrielle]. They're all so amazing,” she says.
Below, Ali discusses some of her favorite memories from her past roles.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Grey’s Anatomy Throwback
Content Warning: This section contains a brief mention of sexual assault.*
Elite Daily: This looked like a pretty bloody scene. What was it like to play Dr. Dahlia Qadri on Grey’s?
Sophia Ali: It was the biggest test of my technical ability I think I've ever had. It's one thing when you're portraying an emotion — it’s really difficult, you know — but then to have to get a medical point across that you don't understand. Sometimes we don't understand emotion, but we're still human at the end of the day, so we can kind of still grasp it because we understand human tendencies. Doctors go to school for years and years and years and learn how to diagnose people. To have to emulate that accuracy to the best of my ability, it was a lot of pressure. It definitely was. It was almost harder than emotions.
ED: Tell me about the fake blood in this photo.
SA: The mechanism that shot out the blood when he pulled out this a piece of shrapnel in his leg — he pulled it out and then the blood squirted everywhere and it aimed right at my face. I didn’t realize it, but in the take, it was just a fountain almost directly right into my eyes and face. It was hilarious.
ED: What was your most memorable experience filming for Grey's Anatomy?
SA: The most memorable scene, hands down, is in the episode where a woman who was raped comes in and it was just really powerful. She was injured and she's just really scared to get surgery, and so all of the women in the hospital line up along the hallway and support her journey into the surgery room. When we were filming it, it felt really powerful.
Getting Wild In Australia
ED: What were you in Australia for?
SA: I was in Australia for The Wilds’ second season. We filmed it in the Gold Coast. We lived in Surfer’s Paradise and it was a really cool experience, just getting to see Australia in such a large quantity. I was there for so long, I felt like I was a local.
ED: How do you feel when you look at this photo?
SA: It was when I first got there to go see koalas. This photo is funny because it looks like the koala is checking me out.
ED: Since this was taken while you were on location to film The Wilds, is there anything you can tease about Season 2?
SA: As far as Fatin [in Season 2], you get to see a major side to her you don’t expect. She becomes sort of a mother figure, like a caretaker of sorts. She’s really, really good at it. In the first season, she’s very selfish. To see her fill this role and to see her being aware of it as she’s doing it, it’s cool. I hope fans love it.
A Spicy Time On Set
ED: For those who haven’t seen India Sweets and Spices, what is going on with this cucumber?
SA: I was trying to offend this lady, so I found this huge cucumber, the biggest cucumber I could, and held it up. I was like, “What a massive cucumber, I’ll take five.”
ED: I'm sure a lot of potential projects get sent your way. Why did you say yes to taking on India Sweets and Spices?
SA: Even before I did Grey’s Anatomy, I wanted to make representation important to me in my career. It felt like something that was necessary for my moral compass. Instead of making it about me, it could be about something that was bigger than me. I love acting, obviously. It’s so much fun and that’s motivation enough, but to have this other motivator of giving other people the opportunity to see someone onscreen that looks like them, which I didn’t have growing up, it makes me feel good.
*If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, you can call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or visit hotline.rainn.org.