Anya Taylor-Joy is a happy person now she is able to work again. The 26-year-old has made great strides in TV and film, despite her fledging years, prompting Time magazine to place her in their annual 100 Next feature. She’s managed to pick up a number of honors for her acting, with a Golden Globe Award for her portrayal of chess prodigy Beth Harmon in The Queen’s Gambit .
In Last Night in Soho, The Menu, and Amsterdam she excelled as someone thrilled to be back in a space where her star shines.
Q How are you living, post-lockdown? Would you say you are back to normal?
ANYA TAYLOR-JOY “I am back to normal but it’s clear a lot of us aren’t, and I do find that very sad.
“And maybe I am not totally back to normal, but I am certainly in a place where the fear is no longer prevalent.
“For a long time it was – that feeling that this is something we may not emerge out of; and even if we do, we may find ourselves plummeting into once again further down the line.
“I don’t actually think those things are true, but when you have the very fabric of your life ripped from beneath you, it’s difficult not to view things from a really hopeless perspective.
“What is true is that after so long working in different ways, and for a spell of time not working at all, I am dedicated and driven to take every opportunity and to work harder than ever before, and that’s what I have been doing.”
Q Indeed, your work methods haven’t changed much though, have they?
ANYA TAYLOR-JOY “I’ve always been admiring of actors who can be calm and not nervous when they don’t have projects on. I’m not like that – I couldn’t be.
“I need to be active, moving along, looking for the next thing. I am lucky in the sense that during lockdown I’ve still seen momentum in the projects I’m working on.”
Q How has the Vogue cover changed you?
ANYA TAYLOR-JOY “It was a fantasy thing, I guess – something most young girls dream of when they begin to find a way in entertainment and culture.
“Of course the perception versus reality is very different with these things, and much like is the case when you make a movie. That whole process of putting together an hour-of-a-half of drama is something that is very stunted, drawn-out, laboring and very un-Hollywood; yet what you see as the end result is everything you imagine this industry to be like. And I guess in a way photoshoots are much the same thing – they are regimented, finicky, awkward too.
“So I guess what I am saying is the idea of the cover is in some way greater than the actual experience… and perhaps that’s true of so much of what we undertake, look forward to and, indeed, look back on in life. “Perception is almost always different to reality – no necessarily better or worse, just different.”
Q Your film choices in 2022 were very stylish – The Menu and Amsterdam. Can you ever see yourself doing something that isn’t polished and pristine?
ANYA TAYLOR-JOY “Well, yes, since I am providing the voice for princess on the Super Mario Bros movie [laughs].
“I feel your movie choices ultimately reflect your tastes in life, and mine have always been about look, image, perhaps with a classy or luxurious edge.
“That’s not to say I think of myself in that way, but it is certainly a look and an image I aspire to, as I guess many of us do. “All that said, I am certainly looking to evolve and refine my film choices, as I believe that is important too. I don’t want to get stuck making one type of film, as I think that’s a path for an audience to quickly become bored of you!”
Q I can’t believe that would ever happen?
ANYA TAYLOR-JOY “Just watch… [laughs].”
Q I hear that you had a bit of an unorthodox way of learning English when you were young…
ANYA TAYLOR-JOY “I actually learned a lot of English from Harry Potter books. They were the ones that connected me with the English language when we first moved here, and as much as I rebelled against that at first, ultimately, I was swept along by those stories, and they opened my eyes to then language at the same time.
“Yet the thing is that although I do speak with a clear and soft English accent because of my time in London and growing up there, I don’t always speak that way. It depends on the people who I am speaking to and who I am around at the time.
“So, I may seem as if I am a quaint and well-spoken young English lady, but say I am with other English people who are dropping a few letters and speaking a bit more Cockney, that can rub off on me.
“I think it’s good to be able to change a little bit and God-knows it could help me get future roles that I would never have even thought about reading for, in the future [laughs].”
Q It’s widely known that The Queen’s Gambit, a drama that did help guide us out of some of the lockdown months, was a tremendous hit, breaking Netflix records. Are we being too optimistic to think it may at some point return for a second series?
ANYA TAYLOR-JOY “It was a lovely role and, of course, I was absolutely thrilled that it became such a big hit, but some things do need to be left, and the producers have been clear, and were clear, that there was an endpoint. I think we wrapped it at the right place.
“It was one of those projects that had such wonder cinematography for me. Even before we started, I had read the book and it became so apparent to me that I was falling completely head over heels in love with the main character, Beth. “As soon as I had read the book – which didn’t take me long, because I couldn’t put it down – I felt like it would be an amazing adaptation if someone was thinking about making it.
“Lo and behold, director Scott Frank was making it and yes, I did think it would be a good watch and I was intrigued to see how he would do it for the screen. But did I think it would reach the astronomical number of viewers that it has on Netflix? Not for a second.
“The thing is, I wasn’t aware that it was blowing up because – what happens if you catch a good run of roles – I was working almost immediately on the next project. That was far from the same as sitting in the warmth indoors, pondering over the next move.
“I was up on the side of a mountain, barefoot, in the freezing cold and not realizing that the last project was being watched by a lot of people. “That was until I would come back down from those cold heights, have something to eat and a nice hot bath and read the notifications on my phone. That’s when I became aware that something good was happening.”
Q But we should never say never in this industry?
ANYA TAYLOR-JOY “I guess not, and I guess that is true, but someone would need to write a second book first!”