Sophie Thatcher as Natalie in Showtime’s Yellowjackets Credit: Paul Sarkis/Showtime

Sophie Thatcher

Monica Vitti. Peter Ivers. Béatrice Dalle. Esoteric influences the impossibly cool Sophie Thatcher pays tribute to on her impossibly cool Instagram account, which all have me running for Wikipedia to keep up. After her breakout turn on Showtime’s Yellowjackets, this 21-year-old product of the Chicago theater scene has literally become her generation’s Juliette Lewis. They play the same character on the show, but they also share a rocker/rebel/feminist sensibility whose free spirit and sharp edges will undoubtedly be welcomed by the coming “vibe shift.” (For those who missed it, a “trend forecaster” is predicting the return of “indie sleaze,” messy style, and more fractured subcultures within music and fashion.)

A decade ago, 12-year-old Thatcher was among a cast of “delightful child actors” I praised in a review of Provision Theater’s feel-good original musical, The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey. A few years later she took a starring turn in The Diary of Anne Frank at Writers Theatre, a 200-show experience she still mentions often as one of her proudest moments as an actor. An obligatory turn on Chicago P.D. could have been the peak, and an admirable one at that, but Thatcher has found her way into an intriguing slate of film and TV that doesn’t shy away from thrills, horror, trauma, and complex female characters. (Other highlights: The Exorcist, The Book of Boba Fett, and Stephen King’s The Boogeyman filming next month in New Orleans.)

Reflecting on her first feature film, Prospect (2018), Thatcher credits indie filmmaking great Jay Duplass for some of the best advice she’s received to “not give a shit,” an attitude that made her character Natalie one of the best parts of Yellowjackets. For those not yet initiated (where have you been?!), the show chronicles the plane crash of a high school girls soccer team and their descent into Lord-of-the-Flies-meets-Lost occult occurrences and even cannibalism. It’s dark, even tortuous at times, but it’s also a completely spellbinding portrayal of female ingenuity and friendships at their most feral. Thatcher’s husky-voiced Natalie vacillates between jaded, self-sufficient maturity and lovestruck vulnerability, a preternatural range with impressive potential. Moral of the story to Chicago theatergoers—save your programs (unlike me with Jonathan Toomey). You never know when you’ll be saying “I saw them back when . . . .”

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