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Your first online source for all things ANYA TAYLOR-JOY. She is an American-born Argentine-British actress and model. She is best known for her role as Casey Cooke in "Split" (2017), her lead role as Thomasin in "The Witch" (2015) and more recently in "The Queen's Gambit" (2020) playing Beth Harmon. Enjoy your stay!
Written by admin on May 15, 2024

ELLE US – For a long time, Anya Taylor-Joy kept a secret. Aside from her mother, very few people in her life knew the truth. Anything to keep the tabloids from finding out. The fact that she and a certain new man in her life were able to keep the story as quiet as they did—for as long as they did—was, she says today, “unbelievable.”

To be clear, the secret she’s referring to was her shock appearance in Dune: Part Two, a minute-long fever dream that made international news and reportedly set up a major role in the next film. News of her cameo—unknown perhaps even to her costar Zendaya—broke just before the London premiere earlier this year. “I think Z had suspicions whilst filming,” Taylor-Joy says, adding, “I really wanted them to know. I didn’t just want to show up and be like, ‘Hi.’”

Yet there she was on the sand-colored “red carpet” in custom Dior Haute Couture, a white cape framing her face (Hi!). Nearby, Zendaya stunned in retro-futuristic Mugler. But to industry watchers, that night was about more than fashion. It was the unofficial coronation of a new class of bona fide A-list movie stars in Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Austin Butler, Florence Pugh, and now Anya Taylor-Joy.

At 28, Taylor-Joy was a movie star with one tiny, pesky asterisk: She hadn’t actually starred in a blockbuster movie yet. That all changed this May with the launch of Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga, a prequel to George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road. And it’s a seriously big swing. That last film made approximately $380 million worldwide and scored 10 Academy Award nominations, winning six. It was also a notoriously difficult shoot. After seeing the film, Steven Soderbergh muttered: “I don’t understand how hundreds of people aren’t dead.”

Adding to the challenge, Taylor-Joy inherited the title role from Charlize Theron, who played the one-armed Furiosa with a buzz cut and indelible grit. The inevitable comparisons would be intimidating enough for any young actress, let alone one tasked with carrying her first global franchise. For Taylor-Joy, it turns out there was a more personal question at stake: Of her whirlwind career to date, she says, “I had no idea what it was to put myself first in any way or how I wanted to exist.”

We’re seated in a corner booth at a chic hotel restaurant, Taylor-Joy dressed in a blazer over a white tank top, her platinum blonde hair tucked behind her ears. As we talk, she stares back at me from across the table, arms folded, her face resting on her hands. It’s a gesture she used to great advantage in The Queen’s Gambit, an early quarantine success story that drew 62 million viewers and famously got young people horny for chess.

It’s been an unlikely journey over the past decade, from indie darling to IMAX screens. And it’s a story filled with strange coincidences and premonitions. “Sometimes,” Taylor-Joy says, “I’ll get these little flashes of truth where I just know something’s going to happen. It’s not a controllable thing, it’s just weird instinct.” When she got the call that her Furiosa casting was going public, she was in Belfast—walking directly past the movie theater where she’d seen Fury Road nearly a decade earlier. What are the chances? Later, she met with director Denis Villeneuve about a role in Dune: Part Two, but was told that her Furiosa schedule—coupled with COVID regulations—made doing both films impossible. But she felt certain this wasn’t the end of the story, insisting to her agents: “It’s not over.” Nearly a year later, Villeneuve called to offer her the role of Alia Atreides, sister to Chalamet’s rebel Paul Atreides, whisking her away to Namibia for a single day of filming.

She tells these stories almost like a mystic reading tea leaves. Of Taylor-Joy’s essence, director George Miller explains: “There’s got to be that mystery, that ethereal quality, but there’s also got to be something accessible. That’s the contradiction. That’s the essence of charisma. You want to watch them. That’s what differentiates the movie star from us ordinary people.”

Furiosa is undeniably Taylor-Joy’s movie—a full-tilt, postapocalyptic origin story. Ripped from the mythical Green Place of Many Mothers as a child (a place of abundance in a world starved for resources), Furiosa was held captive by the Warlord Dementus (played with giddy charm by Chris Hemsworth in a prosthetic nose). But she made a promise to herself, or maybe it’s a threat: She would return home at any cost.

When Taylor-Joy read the script for the first time, she felt she knew this woman immediately. “The most beautiful and heartbreaking thing about Furiosa,” she says, “is that she’s the embodiment of impossible hope—living in a world where everything is a violation to you. The air that you breathe, the lack of food, the fact that empathy is punished, that trust is punished. And throughout it all, she just has this relentless conviction that she’s going to make good on that promise she made. I still get chills thinking about it.”

Taylor-Joy has been on a similar quest from the jump, traveling the world but longing for a home. Born in Miami to a Scottish-Argentinian father and Zambian-Spanish-English mother, she was raised in Buenos Aires until the age of six, when the family relocated to London, a move she’s described as traumatic. “I never made sense in my school environment,” she says. “Everything about it was sort of telling me that there was something wrong with me rather than being celebratory in any way.” (Spanish is her first language and still the one that feels most true to herself, she says.)

At 14, she ventured to New York for a summer directing program where she lived in a hostel, dyed her hair pink in the bathroom of a Chipotle, and exhaled for the first time in years. She later signed with a London modeling agency, which led to small acting gigs and then a break. At 18, she flew to Sundance for the premiere of a small, twisty allegory called The Witch and never looked back.

The Queen’s Gambit was a surprise sensation that won her a Golden Globe, an Emmy nomination, and a Dior contract. (She’s also a brand ambassador for Tiffany & Co.) But Furiosa was a singular challenge, mentally and physically. Taylor-Joy had not driven a motorcycle since an accident at age 19 in Argentina. “My best friend’s older brother had just bought a Ducati,” she says. “I went off on the bike in shorts and heeled espadrilles. I did pretty well until I had to stop. Then I went into a tree.” She shows off a scar on her left knee. “I got really, really lucky,” she says. “I lost quite a bit of muscle.”

Furiosa forced her to get back on the bike, to belabor the metaphor. Stunt car lessons followed (she doesn’t have a driver’s license), and then weapons training when she arrived in Australia for the six-month-plus shoot. Miller wasn’t concerned that his star was new to action films, praising a physicality born of her childhood days studying ballet. It’s something she and Theron share, says her director, but more importantly, “They’re both incredibly resolute.” He recalls more than once looking at a take on the monitor and saying to the stunt coordinator, “‘Hayley’s a great double for Anya.’ And several times he’d say, ‘That was Anya.’”

Adds Hemsworth, “I’ve worked with a lot of people who come from a different background into the action space. Some people don’t quite commit and never get there, but she certainly did. It was quite an iconic figure that she was stepping into, and she didn’t want to leave any stone unturned as far as preparation.”

In the end, the real mind-fuck wasn’t inheriting an iconic role—or even the massive set pieces—but rather the isolation Taylor-Joy endured. Furiosa spends much of the film alone and on the run. “I was really pushing the boundary of what my body and mind could do,” she says, recalling 3 A.M. rides to set. “I was driving through the streets of Sydney like, ‘I’ve not seen a single person in months. I haven’t seen anybody who doesn’t look like they’re in the Wasteland. I’ve been living in an alien world.’”

Looking back on the experience, Taylor-Joy says, more than anything she “wanted to be pushed. I wanted to really understand grit in a different way. Because I knew that I had it. But I understood that in isolation, I was going to really experience it. Okay, you’re in a house in the middle of nowhere with just your thoughts and this character. How do you cope with that? And when you don’t have comfort around you—when there’s nothing that you can turn to for distraction—how are you going to experience that?” She adds, “My favorite flowers have always been seeded dandelions or the daisies that grow through concrete. I think I wanted to be placed in concrete. I wanted to understand how that would feel. When you get too comfortable, you stop growing.”

“I try not to get too caught up in the rest of it,” Taylor-Joy says of the movie star question and what that Dune: Part Two premiere spells for the future. “I just want to be able to do the thing that I love. And I hope that the purity of that love shines through.” But 10 years out from her first trip to Sundance—a line in the sand so thick it might have been drawn by one of those giant Dune worms—she’s been thinking about her career and the choices she’s made. She’s grateful to have had so many opportunities come her way, and couldn’t imagine saying no to any of them, but there’s a cost.

“I woke up and realized I had not taken a break in 10 years. I’ve always been somebody who wants to take care of other people before taking care of myself,” she says. “I have always been sick, and working, or exhausted at dinner. I was like, I need to figure out what I do for fun.”

A year ago, she promised to take some time for herself. Last year’s dual actors’/writers’ strikes forced her to follow through. And so off she went to Kauai, and then to Egypt. She trekked with gorillas in Rwanda. And, yes, she got married. After so many years on the move, she made a home with Malcolm McRae, 30, one half of the band more* (asterisk theirs). The couple’s September 2023 wedding at a historic palazzo in Venice included guests Cara Delevingne and Julia Garner. Naturally, the bride wore custom Dior.

The couple had quietly eloped 17 months earlier, just before Taylor-Joy returned to Australia to shoot Furiosa. “We’re just real romantics,” she says of the secret ceremony. “We were born on the same day. And we wanted to make sure that our first experience was something that was completely for us. So we eloped in New Orleans with our two best friends and had the time of our lives. It was magical. But I’m lucky to say that the second experience—with all of our families—was so beyond beautiful, and I just feel very, very lucky.” The couple is now nesting in their home together in Los Angeles.

Taking some time to refuel looks good on her. This weekend, she says, she had her first day off in months, enjoying a hike on a nearby trail, getting a massage, and watching a Russian film. She’s also gotten into The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City. Reality TV used to depress her, but a friend insisted they watch that infamous finale—“Receipts, proof, timeline, screenshots!”—and now Taylor-Joy is hooked: “I don’t know what happened in my brain, but I’m so invested. I’ve never seen so many people yell at the same time.”

Of her own life right now—of marriage more than two years in—she says, “I’m an incredibly sensitive, hyper-feeling person. I did not realize that I could have more feelings, but I can. I feel so unbelievably lucky to be completely and utterly in love. I have found my person. I cannot believe that we get to do life together. And in talking about experiences where you get to grow, what an unbelievable thing to live your life with a mirror—and a mirror that causes you to become a better version of yourself.”

A world tour to promote Furiosa is about to begin. What she’s trying to do in this moment—on the eve of this next big chapter—is to hold onto the part of herself that went into this business for the love of it. “I got into this because I love art and I have no choice,” she says. “This is what I need to do.” Last week, she tells me, she slipped into Grauman’s Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard to watch the Furiosa trailer from the back of one of the largest IMAX auditoriums in the world. “We went on a Tuesday,” she says, “and it was packed. It still feels like the kid part of me can go, ‘This is amazing.’”

Almost as an afterthought, I ask, What did she hope for when she went to Sundance with her first film 10 years ago? “I hoped for magic,” she says.