Welcome to Adoring Anya Taylor-Joy
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 "Emma" (2020) playing Emma Woodhouse. Enjoy your stay!
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Just Jared Spotlight

Photoshoots & Portraits > Photoshoots from 2016 > Session #10 – Just Jared

Anya Taylor-Joy is still processing what has happened to her over the last year. One minute, the aspiring actress was crafting a letter to her parents to explain why she was planning to drop out of school to pursue her passion and then next, she had an IMDB page filled with an array of extraordinary credits. Life has changed in every way since she made her debut as Thomasin in 2015’s The Witch. “I went to Sundance and I didn’t go home,” she joked during our recent Spotlight photo shoot. I’ve now made 7 films back to back and I have a new normal.”

Acting is something that the 20-year-old had aspired to do since she was a young child. “I’d always known I loved it because I always used to go off into the woods and make stories for myself,” she reveals. It all started with a grade school production where Anya played a boy and donned a painted-on goatee. From there, she was scouted to model while walking her dog down the street near her family home. Modeling eventually catalyzed her passion of being employed on film and television sets and things began to quickly take off. She’s since forged a bond with horror-master M. Night Shyamalan, tussled around on screen with Kate Mara, and was directed by Grant Singer in the official music video for “Red Lips” by Skrillex.

For a young starlet that is sitting on a career ready to explode, Taylor-Joy is as humble as they come. As she waits for her current batch of films to hit theaters, she admits that she’s not quite sure what life in the public eye will bring her way. “I am more of a private person for sure and I’m very frightened to lose that to be honest,” she candidly admits. But there is not turning back for the Argentine-British beauty. “I’m just going to roll with it,” she jokes. “Hopefully it will be fine!” And that’s exactly what she did the morning of our interview when she was recognized on Hollywood Blvd at the same time that she was interacting with a gentleman in a Chewbacca costume and doing a phone interview. “I told the journalist I would call her back. I said hi to the really nice Australians who were just like, ‘The Witch was great.’ And then I gave Chewy a hug,” she reveals with an innocent giggle.

Check out our Spotlight with the budding star below where she discusses how her first walk in heels was what kickstarted her career, what she loved so much about playing an artificial human being in Morgan, and how Gucci is inspiring her to leave her tomboy tendencies in the past.

Just Jared: What was the first thing that you ever acted in?
Anya Taylor-Joy: I think I was 10/11. I did something at my primary school called Perkin and the Pastry Cook and I played Perkin, so I played a boy. And I loved it. It was so much fun. I just remember having this real feeling of exhilaration and being like, “I like this a lot.” I got a painted epic goatee and I never wanted to take it off. When I went home. I was like, “Oh so manly!”

JJ: You used to be a ballet dancer. Did you want to pursue that before acting?
ATJ: I think I always wanted to be a performer. I never really saw the difference. I just trained in ballet very hard and then when I was 15, it either just became a thing of I was going to pursue it full time or I was going to do something different. I was like, “I can’t give up acting. Acting is the love of my life. And so I have to follow it.” I’m trying to get back into dance. I now haven’t exercised in like 5 years. I want to get back into it because it’s really good for the soul. I love to dance. But mostly I’ll go to a salsa club and just dance with my girlfriends.

JJ: What was your first audition?
ATJ: It was to play the young Angelina Jolie in Maleficent. I am the biggest Disney fan ever. I was blonde at the time; I’m a natural blonde. And I thought, “Angelina Jolie? Me?” My mom came with me and it was in London. When I found out I didn’t get it, I cried and cried and cried. And then that was the last time that I ever cried over an audition. I had to get through that first rejection and then ever since then, I’ve always very firmly believed in if it’s meant for you, then it’s yours and nothing will stop it from being yours. And if it’s not meant for you, no matter how hard you try, you just have to let it go.

JJ: You have a great story about how you first got started as a model, which led to acting. Is it true that you almost missed your opportunity because you thought the modeling scout was a stalker?
ATJ: Yeah. It was absolutely terrifying. It was my first time wearing heels ever. I was about to be 17 and I was going to a party and I wanted to practice. So I took my dog out for a walk in heels. So I’m walking my dog and I felt this car behind me and I was like, “Anya, you’re being ridiculous. It’s not following you.” So I turned down a side street and the car came with me and I picked up my pace and the car picked up its pace. So I picked up my dog and I started to run.

JJ: In heels?
ATJ: Yeah! I was surprisingly pretty good. I think ballet sort of trained me for that. I’m pretty good at running in heels, which is useful for movies because sometimes you’re supposed to do that. And this guy just stuck his head out the window and screamed out, “If you stop you won’t regret it,” which is basically the worst slasher flick line ever but I did. I stopped dead in my tracks. The car came up and inside was Sarah Doukas and she was like, “I’d really love you to come to the agency tomorrow.” And what was funny was the last thing she said to me before she went was, “And by the way, never stop if a car is following you and they tell you to. Never again!” And so I went in the next day with my parents and they signed me and I connected modeling to acting. But it really was something I had never considered before because I’m a real tomboy actually.

JJ: How has your life changed since The Witch?
ATJ: In every single way. I went to Sundance and I didn’t go home. I’ve now made 7 films back to back and I have a new normal. I was saying that to my mom this morning: “This is my life now.” And I don’t know when that happened because it’s all been so fast. I’m not good when I’m overwhelmed and so I don’t really stop to think about anything. And now I’m like, “OK. I’m going to go shoot this movie and meet these cool people. And hello Ridley Scott!” I can’t allow myself to get overwhelmed because otherwise I wouldn’t be able to do it. It’s been a real whirlwind and life changed over night for me.

JJ: Are you a fan of horror in general?
ATJ: Oh God no! The only two horror films I’ve seen are The Witch because I made a horror movie. And I thought, “Oh I have a horror movie out. I can totally do this!” so I watched The Blair Witch Project and I didn’t sleep for like 5 weeks. And that was the end of that. I don’t like being scared. But it’s fun to be in a horror film because I have way too many feelings. So if you get to do scenes where you get to push your feelings in that way, it’s so cathartic and you go home and you just feel lighter. You’re just like, “OK. I’ve expunged a couple of. I feel better.”

JJ: Are there any characters that you have played that have been super heavy for you to take on?
ATJ: I just did a movie called Thoroughbred and my characters are very real for me. They are very real people and I love them dearly. I actually get really protective over them. It’s strange. You can mess with me but don’t mess with my character because I get like mama bear protective over it. This one character, I was defending her the whole time and at the end of the movie, I was like, “She’s a pretty toxic person isn’t she?”

JJ: What are you most afraid of?
ATJ: I’m a real animal advocate and I adore them. But baboons scare the crap out of me. They are so violent and so strong and they are very aggressive. I’ve had nightmares about baboons before for sure. I saw a baboon get violent with another baboon in the zoo and from that moment on, I was like, “Oh my God. I can’t deal with it.” There is a scene in some animated movie where a whole group of baboons are chasing this person. I cannot watch it! It’s the most terrifying thing in the entire world. It’s ridiculous.

JJ: Morgan looks really cool. What attracted you to the role?
ATJ: When I first read the script, I was so riveted by the opening sequence. I was like, “Whoa. That’s how you start a movie. That’s amazing!” And with Morgan, I just felt so much empathy towards her and I could really connect with her in a sort of way. It’s interesting because in Morgan, I spent a lot of time behind a sheet of glass. And when I was little, I used to tell my mom that. I used to say, “I feel like I’m separated from people by this sheet of glass. I can’t connect to people my own age.” It was only when I started making movies that I really found my tribe. I’m so happy that I got to tell that story. I know that she’s an artificial human being but anytime you see a character that is going through something that you understand, hopefully it makes you feel a little less alone.

JJ: Morgan looks like she spends a lot of time in isolation. What did you do to get into that mindset?
ATJ: I’d like to think I’m not a method actor because I’m pretty much joking right until “action” and right after “cut.” I love the crew. I love the family feeling of making a movie. But I find myself taking on certain traits of my character without my own consent to it. I’d literally spend hours in this room that was soundproof watching everyone else on the other side being like, “OK. Hi.” And so I became very close with the crew. We shot in Belfast. We’d go out a lot. You need human contact after a while. We shot that for 3 months, 6 day weeks. I’m Latina so I’m very tactile. I’m very touchy feely. I love hugs. And so there were several occasions where I was like, “Can I just hold your hand for a second?”

JJ: What do you love about playing these empowered female characters that also have a bit of a dark edge to them?
ATJ: I think it’s honest and I love that. I’ve been incredibly lucky. I was never really sent the girlfriend role or hot girl #1. It was always very meaty real women. Women are fascinating. Women are unicorns. And I think it’s so awesome that now there seems to be a want and a need for more of these roles. One of my favorite thing about Morgan is it is two strong female leads. But also, we have a couple of action scenes and when we started choreographing them, the stunt choreographer came in and said, “There is nothing sexy about these fights. These fights are mean. They are cruel. They have a lot of crunch to them. And they are more vicious than you likely see between two men.” And we were like, “Oh hell yeah! Let’s do it.” Because it’s true. Women are super tough and it’s fun to tell these stories.

JJ: You have a role coming up in Barry. What did you learn about President Obama that you didn’t know?
ATJ: So much! Charlotte, my character, is the amalgamation of three of Obama’s white college girlfriends. So it’s great because they are real people there and real things that happened but I also got to create my own character in a sort of way. I loved reading “Dreams From My Father.” I just thought that was lovely. And more than anything, I loved inhabiting that world. 1980’s New York was something that I’d always wanted to do – the music, the clothes, the experience, the essence in the air. It was just amazing. It was a dream come true. But regarding POTUS, I learned that he wanted to be a writer. I didn’t know that before. He wanted to be a poet and I think that’s really lovely. And he had an apartment that was absolutely freezing cold. They never had the heat on in there. And so he and his girlfriends would sleep in this tiny little college dorm room in this tiny little bed and it was absolutely freezing.

JJ: Does doing this film change your opinion about the upcoming election at all?
ATJ: I think people are really going to miss him. I think that man has so much class and so much style and I think he’s done a really great job. More than that, I think his heart is in the right place. That’s tricky with politicians; you don’t always have that. But I think he genuinely just wanted the best for America.

JJ: What’s the process of watching yourself on screen like?
ATJ: I’ve now seen 3 of my movies. The Witch was different because there was so much of me as Thomasin and I had never seen myself on screen. And so Rob [Eggers] knew that and he let us watch about 4 hours before the volunteer screening in Sundance. I watched it and I was completely quiet for the next 4 hours and just crying and crying. I was like, “I can’t act. I can’t do it. Oh my God. I’m terrible. This is my dream and I can’t do it. This is awful.” I’ve seen that movie so many times now and I’ve got really bad eyesight so I just don’t wear my glasses when I’m watching it and it could be any kind of blonde pink blur up there. When watching Morgan and Split, what was weird about it was I didn’t look in mirrors very much. So when I’m in character, I’m only obviously looking out and so it’s almost like meeting your character for the first time. When I saw Morgan, I was like, “Wow. That’s Morgan. That’s so crazy.” It’s funny because I can look at the person on screen and go, “Oh I don’t like that girl’s acting and I kind of wish she would get off screen” but I don’t connect it to me. I’m just like, “Ah. She’s kind of a terrible actress. That’s very awkward (laughs).” But I also couldn’t not have watched these movies because I love the people that made it so much. I’m a small facet of that film and I loved watching the movie and being like, “Hell yeah props. That was a hard day and you nailed it. And that’s amazing.” or “Oh my God that shot! I remember waiting for the sun to change and we got it and it’s amazing.” You have to support your family. You have to support your team.

JJ: Who is your celebrity girl crush?
ATJ: I have so many (giggles)! Women are awesome. Tilda Swinton forever! Always. Winona Ryder. Angelina Jolie.

JJ: What about a celebrity crush in general?
ATJ: Bill Nighy. I think he’s amazing. Any time I’ve watched him in anything, I’ve always been like, “You are so cool. How are you so cool?”

JJ: Is there a celebrity that you’ve met that you’ve completely lost your composure in front of?
ATJ: Dan Romer who scored Beasts of the Southern Wild. That soundtrack was/is still a big part of my life. I walk around to movie soundtracks a lot because I just love scores. When I met Dan, I walked into the room and I was like, “Hi I’m Anya” and he was like, “Hi I’m Dan.” I completely froze. I couldn’t talk. I went outside to have some fresh air and he came out too. I was like, “Oh my God. Say something say something!” and eventually we did start talking. He’s such a sweet guy and it was really wonderful to meet him.

JJ: Who are your favorite designers to wear?
ATJ: I was never really into clothes when I was younger, I never really thought about them. And when I say younger, I mean the last seven months. I’ve just always been like, “Whatever. It’s fine.” Different with costumes. I really love costumes because they are so much of the character. But then I saw Gucci and that changed a lot of things. Also it’s part of my job to get to wear these incredible things. At the beginning, I felt so uncomfortable with it because I was like, “Oh my God. I’m such a tomboy and I’m wearing this really pretty dress and I feel really uncomfortable” and then it’s like, “If you’re going to do it, you might as well enjoy it!” And yesterday I had a fitting and I was squealing and jumping around and looking at everything. The closer you get to fashion, the more I just appreciate the artistry behind it. I’m just like, “Damn. What you guys do is amazing and I couldn’t do it.” And it’s incredible how clothes can really change the way that you feel. I just really appreciate it and I’m really starting to enjoy it.

JJ: What are you most comfortable wearing when you’re not in work mode?
ATJ: No shoes. Just barefoot all the time.

JJ: There are rumors that you might be starring in the New Mutants. Any truth to that?
ATJ: I would be honored to be a part of that (grins).

JJ: If you were a superhero, what would you want your power to be?
ATJ: I’d want to be able to time travel but also just travel in general. I’d love to be able to snap my fingers and be back at home and give my mom a hug and then come back to set. That would be pretty cool! Not having to take a plane again! No jet lag. That’s a super power.

JJ: If you could emulate the career of any actress, who would it be?
ATJ: I love the fact that Tilda Swinton has always done whatever she’s wanted to do. She’s never shied away from anything. Cate Blanchett is amazing. Rather than emulating, I think it’s more about I just want to make movies like the ones I’ve made now that I’m always proud of. Even if no one else likes that, I can say, “I loved it” and it made me feel something. That’s the sort of career I’d love to have.

JJ: You’ve said in the past that you’re more of a private person but with 7 movies back to back, how are you handling all this limelight?
ATJ: Well it hasn’t happened yet. That’s what’s scary about it. I am more of a private person for sure and I’m very frightened to lose that to be honest. It sounds dumb but I can be kind of ditzy sometimes and it’s like, “Oh I get to act and I get to go to summer camp and I meet all of these incredible people. And as a family we make a movie” and then I’m off to the next one and I don’t think about it. And then the other day I called one of my best friends and I was like, “Oh my fucking God. I have shot 7 movies and they are all going to come out.” And she was like, “Yeah babe. That is kind of the point of making a movie” and I was like, I’ve never seen it that way.” There sort of is no going back now in a way. But at the same time, I’m not scared enough to have it stop me from doing what I love. And the truth is, there was a very real moment when I did suddenly think, “I don’t think I can do this. I don’t think I can be this seen” and I considered giving up acting for a heartbeat. And then I was like, “I can’t do it.” And so I’m going to roll with it and hopefully it will be fine.

JJ: Do you play any instruments?
ATJ: I play the ukulele. I write my own songs. And I just bought my first electric guitar. I’m playing around with that too.

JJ: When did you become a vegan?
ATJ: I became a vegan in November when I was shooting Split. I’ve been a vegetarian for a very long time, since I was about 10. I don’t think there is a problem with eating cheese or eggs or anything like that. It’s the mass production of it and it’s the fact that there are very few laws that cater to animal cruelty.

JJ: Is it true that when you dropped out of school to act, you actually wrote a letter to your parents explaining to them why you wanted to do this?
ATJ: Yeah. Well I have been living alone since I was 16. And then I got The Witch. My parents are very lenient and they have always very much respected me and really valued my opinions and really let me do what I want to do. They’ve really trusted me but obviously when you drop out of school, that’s a bit of a shock for any parent. So I wrote this very long essay that was just like, “And this is why I am leaving school.” And I wasn’t asking permission. I just wanted them to understand that I was making an intelligent, mature, and well thought out decision. In time they have appreciated it. In the beginning, not so much. But they have always been supportive and they are so proud. And they get to enjoy it with me so it’s nice.

JJ: What was it like working with M. Night Shyamalan in Split?
ATJ: I love him. He is one of my nearest and dearest, like genuinely. I was on the phone with him this morning and yesterday morning. We’re very close and he changed my way of acting completely. He taught me about craft and how much fun that is. Being so instinctual, I don’t do a lot of prep. And that’s okay with me but the internal work that he taught me how to do, being like “just let the thought flash across your eyes. Just have the thought. Just think like them.” I’ll always remember, I was doing this really emotional scene. I was sobbing and he came up to me and he put his hand on my back and he was like, “Anya, what you’re doing is beautiful but I’ve seen you cry like this. These are your tears. These aren’t the character’s tears. Don’t be selfish with it. Give Casey her tears” and every since then I’ve realized that I cry differently in every single film and that makes me really proud.

JJ: He interviewed you for Interview Magazine. What was that like?
ATJ: I think because we’re so close, when the interview finished, there was a moment of like, “Did I just bare my soul to the entire world? What was I thinking? Am I crazy?” I’m very open and I don’t really do bullshit and so if you ask me a question, I’m more than likely going to tell you the truth, or at least my truth. But it was also really lovely because it’s something that I’ll always have and I’ll always remember. He didn’t take it easy on me and I didn’t expect him to because that’s not the Shayma way. But it was great and I’m really glad that it was the two of us. We do have a really special bond and I love that man so it was nice.

Source: Just Jared

Interview Magazine: Anya Taylor-Joy Interview

It’s all happening for Anya Taylor-Joy. In the year since she shook up Sundance with her stellar turn as a 17th-century teen in the sensational The Witch: A New-England Folktale, and since we featured her in our Hollywood New Wave portfolio, all she’s done is stack up a slate of impressive films set to hit screens over the next year or so, and which will likely make her into a star. Born in Miami, raised in Argentina and then London, the 19-year-old daughter of a Spanish-English mother and a Scottish-Argentinian father is at home nowhere and everywhere—at least anywhere there is a film set. As her profile rises with the recent release of The Witch, and her life begins to change, the young actress tells M. Night Shyamalan, director of her forthcoming film, Split, she has wanted to make her home in film for so long, she can’t even remember when the wanting started.

M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: Hey, you awake?

ANYA TAYLOR-JOY: Uh, dude, I’ve been awake since, like, two this morning. L.A. does not care about London time.

SHYAMALAN: Two a.m.? What have you been doing for six hours?

TAYLOR-JOY: I read a lot, and then I tried to play my ukulele really quietly to not piss off anyone who was around the area.

SHYAMALAN: Wait, wait. You have a ukulele? If you’d told me this, I wouldn’t have hired you.

TAYLOR-JOY: The ukulele is a deal breaker? [both laugh]

SHYAMALAN: The ukulele is important for me.

TAYLOR-JOY: I did buy an electric guitar while shooting Split [2017]. Does that up my cool points?

SHYAMALAN: Definitely. So I was thinking: Being an immigrant in the United States making movies is an unusual feeling, for me. It defines the way I think and tell stories. Like, I try to tell stories to everyone around the world because my family’s all around the world. Does that come into your thinking about your roles, the way you approach your characters—being international?

TAYLOR-JOY: I’ve been quite lucky in that the roles that I’ve been able to play are all kind of outsiders. And, you know, I belong to so many places, and belong to none of them at the same time, so there’s this sense of displacement—I very much understand what it is to not fit in or belong somewhere. In The Witch or Morgan [forthcoming], my characters are people who just don’t belong in their world, in their scenarios, in their families, in anything. I think, probably, the place that I feel I most belong is a movie set. It doesn’t matter where it is in the world or who I’m making the movie with; that’s the closest thing that I’ve got to a sense of placement. So I guess acting was a way of finding a home, if that makes sense.

SHYAMALAN: I feel very similarly. Making movies is a circus, and you join a new circus family every movie, to some extent. It’s a new group of family members for this intense period of time, and then everybody packs up and goes on their way to the next circus.

TAYLOR-JOY: It is kind of bizarre, but at the same time, I feel like anyone that gets into movies didn’t fit into the real world, and so we made our own world.

SHYAMALAN: We certainly are comfortable with the itinerant quality of our lives, with these groups of strangers who become your family.

TAYLOR-JOY: Completely, the bond is so strong.

SHYAMALAN: I never even told you this … I mean, you auditioned with a thousand other girls who auditioned for the role in Split, and I remember my casting director sent me an e-mail saying, “Wait, I just recorded someone I think is really interesting. You need to look at this.” I looked at the tape, and I was like, “Whoa, this is something really different.” It really stood out. And, I never do this, by the way, I called someone in from one of the offices down the hall and said, “Just look at this.” Casting is such a private thing for me, what my gut’s telling me. But I called in Dom [Dominic Catanzarite, Shyamalan’s assistant], and his eyebrows went up. So when I called you in to audition in person with three or four other girls, I thought, “It’s hers as long as she isn’t, you know … ”

TAYLOR-JOY: Terrible?

SHYAMALAN: Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs. [both laugh]

TAYLOR-JOY: What is that?

SHYAMALAN: That’s a technical term, a director’s term. So wait, was it modeling that you did first? Or acting?

TAYLOR-JOY: I got scouted for modeling, and it was really scary—I was walking my dog wearing heels for the first time ever because I had a party to go to the day after, and I wanted to practice, and this black car kind of started following me, so I, being dramatic, picked up the dog and started to run. I was like, “This is the end.” And this guy popped out and was like, “If you stop, you won’t regret it.” Which now, looking back, I’m like, dumb move. If someone says that to you, you keep running.

SHYAMALAN: It’s the classic serial murderer line!

TAYLOR-JOY: I completely fell for it. But I stopped, and it was Sarah Doukas, the head of Storm Models, in the car. Modeling had never entered my consciousness. I was always like, “I’m going to act.” But I thought, “If this can help me with that, great.”

SHYAMALAN: How old were you when you knew you wanted to be an actress?

TAYLOR-JOY: Dude, it’s really bizarre. I can never remember becoming aware of it; I just knew I was going to do it. I can remember the first time I heard really good music. I was 3 and I was in one of those baby-seat things. We were in Argentina and I heard “Stayin’ Alive,” and I can remember being like, “Whoa, what is this?” When I was little, I would always make up stories; it never occurred to me not to do it. I danced ballet really hard core for a very long time. I just knew that I wanted to express myself in some way, whether it was through dancing or through music … I was very good at lying when I was little. So I was like, “Huh, I guess this is kind of useful.” [Shyamalan laughs] I’d make up the most outrageous lies. I kind of stopped doing that when I started acting. Strange.

SHYAMALAN: In some ways, I find modeling and acting very different, in what’s being asked of you. Like, what I’m asking of you is such an internalization of your character that your physical manifestations are unconscious, and I record that. You’re aware of what you’re doing, but it’s coming from a character. In modeling, it’s almost the reverse. You’re letting the viewer interpret whatever they want to interpret.

TAYLOR-JOY: Thinking about it that way, I think the biggest difference is characters are real—hopefully—they’re flawed and vulnerable, human. While modeling isn’t human. When you’re modeling, you’re projecting an ideal. Maybe you can help me riddle this out, because I don’t really understand it. When I’m taking pictures as myself, it is so rare for me to be like, “Oh, that’s me.” It’s sort of like a puppy looking at itself in the mirror, do you know what I mean? I can’t connect with the person in the pictures.

SHYAMALAN: Yeah. What they’re asking you to do in that moment is represent a broader color than what we do in film, where we’re talking about this specific girl in a specific situation that can only react the way she reacts. So, speaking of which,The Witch was your first movie, right?

TAYLOR-JOY: Yeah. I’m still kind of learning all the jargon, but I got to set and was just like, “What is going on?” I was so confused. God bless Rob [Robert Eggers, writer-director of The Witch]—he grabbed my hand and kind of waved me through everything. He was great.

SHYAMALAN: You just auditioned?

TAYLOR-JOY: Yeah. Rob tells this story—I love it—but I was the first tape he saw, and then he watched like a thousand more because he was like, “No, it can’t be that easy.” [laughs] When we met, I was so anxious—like, losing it. If a script is meant for me, I’ll get this sensation in my body where I’ll just start to shake. And so when I walked in, I was all over the place, and I was like, “I’m pretty much having a panic attack. Do you still want me to do this?”

And he was like, “Yeah, sure.” It was amazing. We shot in Canada. We stayed in a little place called Mattawa. Like, 60 people live there all the time. I love that place. And then we would shoot two hours away. So we’d drive two hours every morning and two hours every night.

SHYAMALAN: My goodness. We have talked a bit about fame and publicity that comes with our jobs, and how that can be unsettling for us as human beings, and distracting as an artist. How are you feeling about the things coming down the road for you, because you’re starring in three big movies in the coming year or so, how do you think that will affect you as a human being and create challenges for you as an artist?

TAYLOR-JOY: I mean, I never thought, “I want to be famous.” I want to act. This makes me feel good. Nothing makes me feel as good as doing this. Nothing could make me more satisfied. And I’m terrified of fame. I like knowing that, when people like me, they like me for who I am and because they’ve taken the time to get to know me. To be honest, it’s going to make me just more of a workaholic, because when I’m not working, I’m doing publicity, and I’d rather be on set all the time, which isn’t that different from what I already want.

SHYAMALAN: I have observed a direct correlation with people’s professional choices and their version of fame. If they didn’t love and respect their choices, and then they become famous, it feels like a betrayal. Every time someone says, “God, I loved you in x-y-z,” it’s a dagger. The worst thing that can happen is to become incredibly successful for something that you don’t respect.

TAYLOR-JOY: I’ve made three movies in my lifetime and all three have had three things: One, do I love my character so much that I’d do anything for her? Two, did the script give me that insane feeling in my body? And then three, would I follow the director to the end of the earth? Yes? Okay, I want to do it. I think about the relationship between an actor and a director like an Olympic athlete and their coach. Like, I am completely vulnerable and open and ready to create your vision and allow you to mold me. I’ve been so lucky with the people that I’ve worked with. You’ve taught me so much about so many things, as a human being and an actor.

SHYAMALAN: If you could plan the next 10 years, and it went exactly like you wanted, what would it be?

TAYLOR-JOY: Making movies that I’m unabashedly proud of. Growing. I want to keep working with all the people I want to work with. I also write a lot of music, I write a lot of poems, and I’d love to do something big for animals. I really love animals—the only thing that makes me properly mad is the mistreatment of an animal. I see complete red.

SHYAMALAN: A random thing popped into my head, and you can tell me to shut up when I bring this up. You can be like, “I can’t believe you brought this up on this Interview interview.” But when we started you on Split, there was a moment when we were in my office, and then you left for the weekend, and you left your script in my office.

TAYLOR-JOY: Oh, my God. Night. [both laugh]

SHYAMALAN: And you came back on Monday, and I let you have it. I just laid into you. I have to say you responded incredibly to it, but I just wanted to hear your side of it.

TAYLOR-JOY: I had already panicked. I knew it was in the office. I knew how much it was going to matter to you. But, also, when people yell at me, I am calm.

SHYAMALAN: [laughs] Well, I didn’t yell at you. I was disappointed.

TAYLOR-JOY: No, you didn’t. But I took it as a challenge. I realized how serious you were. I was just like, “I’m going to prove myself to this guy.” I was going to be the most dedicated actress you’d ever worked with. And, because we’d already had that, I knew our relationship worked. Does that make sense?

SHYAMALAN: It does. I mean, I’m very strict in terms of dedication to the craft of it all. But, you know, you are a very unusual actor. I could do take after take after take, and you seem to have an unending pool of emotion. That’s very unusual. You’re like an exposed, raw nerve. But I don’t want you to rely on that—whatever that is, call it a gift. If you bring craft to that, the sky’s the limit for you.

TAYLOR-JOY: Well, you made me an infinitely better actor—I hope so, anyway. [laughs] So thank you.

SHYAMALAN: I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like for you when The Witchopens. How does your family feel about your decision to go into acting, and then these astronomical opportunities that have happened like magic?

TAYLOR-JOY: Magic is my favorite word. And it does feel like magic. I have a lot of brothers and sisters, but they’re all a lot older than me, so my parents and I are very close. We’ve been through everything together. They always supported me. I was like, “I’m going to act,” and people would be like, “But how is it going to happen?” And I was like, “I don’t know. I’m going to be in the right place at the right time, and this is going to work.” And so when I actually started doing it, my parents were obviously immensely proud of me, like, “Hell, yeah. There’s our girl, doing what she loves.” But then I dropped out of school. That wasn’t that great for them. [Shyamalan laughs] But you would have laughed so hard how I did it. I wrote a five-page-long essay that was like, “I am 17 and you can’t tell me what to do, and this is why I want to leave school to become an actor.” [laughs] Luckily,The Witch came straight after that, so it all just kind of snowballed, and I’m getting to share it with them. It’s strange. My dad cries a lot randomly. Like, he’ll be really proud and start to cry. They’ve been so great and they’re complete rocks, and they’re so happy about it.

SHYAMALAN: That letter you wrote, was it running from something or running to something?

TAYLOR-JOY: It was running to something. I was done with school. I never got along with people my own age. People at school kind of didn’t get me. I had these wonderful teachers. I also have a very good short-term memory, and so I could do exams really easily, but it just, I was feeling so uninspired. I love to learn. I read a ton, I’m always fascinated …

SHYAMALAN: I’m going to stop you there. Everything you just said felt like running from.

TAYLOR-JOY: But if you’re running from something, and you already have the place that you’re running to, what are you doing? I was running from school towards the life that I wanted. And I’m very determined. I’m very stubborn. Once I set my mind towards something, it’s going to happen. By hook or by crook. And it all ended up happening, kind of miraculously, and in a randomly simple, complicated way. It just all sort of worked out.

SHYAMALAN: Well, I am the biggest believer in what you’re talking about. We’re all basically antennas, and if you’re putting that much focus into something with that much belief, it will manifest in some form. You’ve heard those stories, like, Jim Carrey writes a check to himself for $20 million when he was poor, wanting to be an actor, and he put it in his wallet … Did you hear this story?


SHYAMALAN: So he writes a check to himself saying, “To Jim Carrey, for acting services rendered, $20 million,” and keeps it in his wallet. And guess what happens? He becomes the first actor in the world to get paid $20 million.

TAYLOR-JOY: Damn. That’s cool.

Source: Interview Magazine

The Hollywood Reporter: Hollywood’s Next Big Thing

Hollywood’s Next Big Thing: ‘The Witch’ Breakout Anya Taylor-Joy Goes From Ballet to Studio Thrillers

The actress (and secret rapper) has parlayed Sundance buzz into lead roles and almost-“it” girl status.

A version of this story first appeared in the Feb. 26 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Anya Taylor-Joy became one of those brief Sundance sensations in 2015 with her very first movie role, playing the eldest daughter in a Puritan family threatened by witchcraft in The Witch. A year later, A24 finally is set to release the film Feb. 19. But she’s used the time well. Raised in Argentina and the U.K. as the youngest of six children, the former ballet dancer already has shot lead roles in Morgan, Fox’s sci-fi thriller directed by Luke Scott, Ridley Scott’s son, and M. Night Shyamalan’s new thriller Split. Next up is the drama Huntsville opposite Shea Whigham.

What do you love about acting?
I never feel happier than when I’m on set. I never fit in as a kid. I always felt that there was something different about me. And when I’m on a movie set, it sounds cheesy, but I really do feel complete.

How did you get the role in The Witch?
I put an audition on tape. I read the script the night before, which was dumb because I did not sleep. In the script, my character was written as sort of plain, and I thought, “I’m sort of weird looking,” so I didn’t think I would get it. I later found out that I was the first tape [director] Rob [Eggers] saw, but he thought, “It can’t be that easy,” so then he watched 1,000 more tapes before he gave it to me.

What filmmakers would you love to work with?
Everyone? (Laughs.) I would love to work with [Quentin] Tarantino. I’d love to work with the Coen brothers. And Steven Spielberg. E.T. was big for me.

What was your first audition?
Maleficent. As the biggest Disney fan, I was dying. I was so nervous, I was shaking. I cried for a very long time after I didn’t get it.

Whom have you been starstruck around?
Dan Romer, who scored Beasts of the Southern Wild. I listen to that soundtrack all the time. And I would die if I met Saoirse Ronan. When I was 15, I watched all of her movies in one day.

Do you have any secret talents?
I’m a surprisingly good rapper. I was hanging out with the director of my next film [Huntsville’s Eric England], and he put on “Rap God” by Eminem, and I rapped the fast bit. I love it. It wakes my brain up in the morning.

What are you looking for in the future?
I’ve been very lucky with the roles that I’ve played in that they were wonderful roles for women. They’re incredible, flawed characters that I really gravitate toward. I just never want anybody to be able to put me in a box.

Vital Stats
Age 19
Born Miami
Big break Sundance 2015 hit The Witch (Feb. 19)
Reps CAA, Troika and Felker Toczek

“I never fit in as a kid. I always felt that there was something differ­ent about me. And when I’m on a movie set, it sounds cheesy, but I really do feel complete,” says Taylor-Joy

“I’m a surprisingly good rapper,” said Taylor-Joy of her secret talent. I love it. It wakes my brain up in the morning.”

Source: The Hollywood Reporter

We Got This Covered: The Witch Interview Video

Talking Shop with Taylor-Joy, Breakout Star of “The Witch”

It’s rare that a movie these days has the power to truly terrify—with so much real-life horror happening every day, it feels like we’ve become accustomed to it. We’ve grown into unnatural terror in the past few decades like an evolutionary adaptation.

So when a film like The Witch comes along—a story with such palpable horror and brutality—it’s a big deal.

The indie movie (which won the Directing Award in the U.S. Dramatic Category at Sundance), has received universal acclaim from critics.

The story centers on a 17th century family that’s moved alone to an uncharted area on the edge of the New England wilderness; they’ve willingly left their Puritan plantation over a religious disagreement.

Self-righteous patriarch William, with his wife Katherine, and their children: daughter Tomasin, son Caleb, twins Mercy and Jonas, and infant son Sam, in tow, is eager to start a fresh on this new unscathed and blessed farmland.

Things soon worsen after the baffling disappearance of baby Sam, and the family becomes convinced of an evil presence lurking in the woods, just outside their property; an evil that soon infects inward, with the blame falling on Thomasin.

Though the setting is nearly 400 years ago, The Witch’s writer and director, Robert Eggers, taps into the same violence, repression/oppression, and paranoia that is in the very DNA of our country (and most countries around the world); we were born out of this ignorance and bloodshed—something that continues today.

The Witch, which is in theaters nationwide as of last night, is truly a horror movie of the present, while reveling in the past.

Its breakout star, 19-year-old Anya Taylor-Joy, is a revelation on screen.

Her gut-wrenching, naturalistic performance of Thomasin has her poised as one of the top rising young stars in the game, with lead roles in buzzed about projects from M. Night Shyamalan, and alongside Kate Mara in upcoming sci-fi movie Morgan (directed by Ridley Scott’s son, Luke).

PAPER caught up with Anya to discuss the intense experience making this movie, her love of Thomasin, roles for young women in Hollywood, and the daunting reality of rising stardom.

Interview with Anya Tyalor-Joy for Paper Magazine:

PAPER: Just from the terrifying content alone, did you have any reservations about the script—and especially when you got the role?
ANYA: What you just said is probably the intelligent reaction to approaching the script, but I’m a very instinctual person, and I don’t really rationalize thing.

I’d only been acting for a short amount of time, and I hadn’t read many scripts, so I just went into it fully.

I will say, though, that the feeling I got when I read the script is a feeling I will be chasing in future roles for the rest of my life.

Just in general, I always read scripts the night before the audition, and I learn the lines 10-15 minutes before, just to keep it fresh.

But when I read The Witch, it was late at night, in my bed, alone—which was very smart!

I turned the final page, and I swear my body collapsed on me and I inverted. I felt like ghost hands had strangled me with this overwhelming sense of fear and anxiety that I didn’t understand.

On my way to the audition I remember calling my mom and asking her, “Why am I so nervous about this?”

PAPER: Was it hard getting used to the dialogue?
ANYA: After page one, I never questioned that the dialogue was in Jacobean English; it didn’t seem odd. Obviously because of when it was set, but it was so lyrical and poetic and beautiful—it had a rhythm to it.

As unnerving as this film is, hearing our characters speak is semi-soothing, the cadence was almost like a Fairytale or nursery rhyme.

PAPER: The movie was filmed in the wilderness (Canada, though it’s set in New England.) What was the hardest thing about filming?
ANYA: We had a week of rehearsals that was unbelievably important. Rob picked very good cast of people, very intelligently, because the second we all met, it was like, ‘Let’s skip the awkward stage of not knowing each other, and go right to being friends forever.’

We loved each other instantly. And you need that support when you’re literally out in the middle of nowhere, no connection to our real lives or support network; we became each other’s support network.

The atmosphere on set was remarkably light because of this bond we had.

We’re still tight, I was in Venice recently living in a one-bedroom apartment recently, and the five of them all stayed with me; we’re intensely close now.

PAPER: The wardrobe was immaculate, and looked painful. What was it like wearing those restrictive outfits?
ANYA: The wardrobe was done with such incredible period accuracy; it changes the way that you move, eat, walk, and stand.

The first time I put on my costume, I thought, ‘How did women dress themselves?!’ I needed three people to help me.

By the end of filming, though, I could dress myself in a few minutes.

But really, with the clothes back then, your arms and legs could move in only one direction; it was like Barbie stewardess (motions with stiff, locked arms).

The Puritanical mindset was to go against everything that makes you human—even your clothes. They had children in these outfits—children who were meant to move and be free.

It was training them from a young age to not be human.

Thomasin questioned this more than most; she saw the “Why?”

Why were they doing these things? Wearing these things?

PAPER: What was your mission with portraying Thomasin?
ANYA: I see Thomasin as this beautiful flame that has a bucket of ice-cold water poured on it again, and again, and again.

I love my character. All of my characters feel real for me and I deeply care—probably too much—about doing right by them, and giving them a voice.

Something that made me so empathetic toward Thomasin was her burgeoning sexuality. Sexuality is something that everyone fears so much, and especially in the 17th century, when they didn’t talk about it.

PAPER: So Thomasin’s awareness of her body and her feelings made her a threat?
ANYA: Kids today are fortunate to have the explanation of, “Oh, honey, it’s just puberty,” when they’re going through weird things.

For Thomasin, she didn’t have that, and was dealing with these hormones and self-awareness, and becoming more vocal.

In the story, that threatens her family; they start to not trust her, and fear her.

I thought what that would be like: you don’t understand what’s happening, either. So back then, what kind of position what that put you in? What would your frame of mind be?

PAPER: Do you feel there’s an overt feminist statement in the script?
ANYA: When Rob (Eggers) wrote this, he didn’t set out to make anything other than a Puritanical horror movie.

When you read the script, however, feminism just jumps off the page—it’s just natural.

It’s not only in the script, but the documented accounts during this time period.

People feared outspoken women—accusing them of witchcraft wasn’t just a means of shutting down women who stood up for themselves.

For these people, witches were real, and they were an amalgamation of all these concepts of femininity that both men and women feared.
It turned these accused women into fairytale ogresses.

Though your acting has been universally praised, what’s been the most frustrating thing you get asked by the press?

PAPER: When I get asked if I’m “struggling to find another role this good.” Am I just getting girlfriend roles? Hot girl #1?
ANYA: I always say, “No, actually.”

Every single script that I have read is for a gritty, flawed, human being who happens to be a woman and owns it. But I should not be an anomaly. I should not be strange for getting these roles; they’re out there.

Every girl should have this opportunity.

People like to put things in boxes, and with actresses, it’s like “So, what’s her type?” “Is she a virgin, or is she a whore”

We’re all human beings; none of us are one thing; we are very complicated and it doesn’t change according to gender.

PAPER: Does it ever feel daunting to be on this cusp of stardom?
ANYA: I was in very deep denial about it for a while, and it got exhausting to pretend like something big was happening in my life. The most important thing that will always save me is that I would be acting if no one ever saw one of my movies. I can’t not act, I love the work too much; the work is all that matters.

Unfortunately, I’m a very private person and not into this idea of “celebrity,” but the attention does allow you to work with people you’ve always wanted to work with, and tell the stories you want to tell; movies you want to make. The pros far outweigh the cons for me.

I’m the luckiest girl, and I will never complain about any of this because it’s a dream come true.

Source: Paper Magazine

Anya Taylor-Joy and Robert Eggers Interviews “The Witch”

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