Spotlight: Anya Taylor-Joy

My goal is to make a movie that no one would sort of expect me to make. I just want to work with wonderful people. I never want anyone to be able to put me in a box. Definitely don’t want to be in that box. I want to be on top of the box.

Anya Taylor-Joy

Anya Taylor-Joy is pretty new but I’d say she already has a proper fanbase around her. I’ve only seen her in four movies and I have no hesitation to say that she’ll be nominated for an Oscar in the next couple years.

So who is she?

Why should you care?

Let me tell you!

My first time ever seeing Anya in anything was also her feature film debut. The VVitch (Yes I’m going to write it like that because that’s how it was stylistically written and it’s cool.) was a divisive movie within my friend group and, from what I can tell, a lot of the public. It is a painfully slow burn with an incredible payoff in my opinion. That opinion has wavered depending who I’ve spoken to. What nobody can argue is that Anya is a force in that movie. She’s incredibly magnetic and to take your eyes off her is a mistake…that is if you even can. From this first role, she came out of the gate running and she hasn’t stopped since.

Anya as… a young girl in the 17th century just trying to live her best life.

To imagine Anya was offered a role in a Disney show but chose The Witch over it is such a perplexing thing to do but it’s 100% true.

”I had to tell little 11-year-old me, ‘Let that dream go. You outgrew it. Pick The Witch.’ Now I’m like, ‘Good job, adult Anya.’

Anya Taylor-Joy

The thought in some alternative universe Anya’s talent could have been wasted and stream-rolled by the Disney machine. Now that is the darkest timeline. Let’s not talk about that. That’s a scarier thought than any of the movies Anya has been in.

Now for a movie that I personally was split on. He he he. …I’m sorry. I even made the same joke on Letterboxd. It’s still bad. Carrying on…

Once again, Anya was positively radiant on screen as Casey, one of three girls who were kidnapped by James McAvoy’s Kevin. While Split is a star vehicle for James, Anya holds her own and it certainly helps that she was the only one of the girls who had a discernible personality (I love both Haley Lu Richardson and Jessica Sula but am I wrong?). I know it was because they had the sequel already planned and she’s a character in it. Never saw Glass and I didn’t see Unbreakable. No matter how good Anya and James were in Split, I just wasn’t interested. But Anya with dark hair… masterpiece!

Anya as… a kidnapped girl who is anything but a victim.

Thoroughbreds was the turning point for me and my love for Anya Taylor-Joy. I went in for Olivia Cooke (she deserves her own spotlight post honestly. Olivia is just amazing) and Anton Yelchin (He was truly beginning to come into his own before his tragic death. RIP) primarily but came out as a budding Anya super fan. I can not even begin with this movie. It’s simply that good. The dark humour. The chaos of being a teenage girl. The dynamic between Anya and Olivia that I would watch a million movies of them together. In Thoroughbreds, Anya plays Lily, the typical bored, too smart for her own good rich girl and that’s when anything standard ends. Lily and Olivia’s Amanda voluntarily jump down the rabbit hole into darkness. In my Letterboxd review, I wrote that Anya was entrancing. I have to agree with myself on that one.

Anya as… a clever rich girl looking for a way to correct aspects of her life.

Before we get into more current movies Anya has performed in, I have to address movies I haven’t seen of hers and set time aside to watch them. First there is Morgan. It simply didn’t look that great. I’m sure Anya was great in it because I don’t think she has it within her not to bring her A game to any project. I saw the trailer and I just didn’t care. The cast looks amazing but unfortunately the best cast can’t make improve a mediocre movie that much. I will watch Barry because Obama and Anya. I honestly haven’t heard of Marrowbone or The Miniaturist prior to looking at her filmography. I didn’t watch Radioactive as I’ve been protecting myself since the downfall of Rosamund Pike’s movie selections post Gone Girl. I know I do have to watch Peaky Blinders as I heard it’s amazing and also Anya joined the cast later on so sure, I’ll do it!

And now we have arrived in present time and to what I’m most excited to talk about. Possibly my favourite heroine ever and my current favourite movie of 2020…

Emma. is one of the countless adaptions of this Jane Austen classic that I hold closely to my heart like most others hold Pride and Prejudice. This delicately beautiful pastel take on the story made my heart flutter and full with so much happiness. Anya has never particularly acted in such a movie prior to this. It’s refreshing and a welcome addition to show the range Anya has.

I read the following quote about her initial thoughts of portraying Emma and it near broke my heart.

I genuinely had a panic attack on Emma because I thought I am the first ugly Emma and I can’t do this. Because the first line in the movie is, ‘I’m handsome, clever and rich.’ And then I thought, f— it. I don’t care about losing my looks. I have worked 18 years to put as little emphasis on my looks as possible because it is not condusive to my mental health and it is not condusive to me putting out the best work possible. So I have made it a practise in my life to not turn down compliments. If somebody says I look pretty today, I just say thank you.

Anya Taylor Joy

It’s fair to say that Anya isn’t the standard we hold in Hollywood movies and this certainly isn’t a bad thing. It’s actually purely the opposite. What makes us different makes us beautiful. The first thing that drew me to her before even seeing her act were her wide eyes and her striking cheekbones. No wonder she had one of those classic being spotted in public and signed to a modelling agency the next day stories. It only makes sense.

I look forward to watching Emma. as many times as I’ve watched Clueless. It’s one of those movies you literally want to jump into. Anya as Emma Woodhouse plays the well meaning yet precocious young women to perfection. I have to add that Mia Goth is adorable as Harriet Smith. If you love period movies, pastels and Jane Austen, watch Emma. now! I demand it.

Anya as… the best Jane Austen heroine. I said it…I simply distribute facts.

Where to even begin with The New Mutants? I love that the new tagline of “Nothing will stop the new mutants” almost sounds like a threat. Literally nothing will stop this movie and hopefully it’s worth the wait for the sake of the cast and crew and the shit storm they’ve been put through. I’ve got to admit I’ve been hot and cold about this movie. The new trailer sold me mainly on the fact of how badass Anya looks. We’re coming full circle here with her first movie The Witch to playing a mutant named Magik. I want this to be good. I think you’d have to be part of the sad side of Film Twitter to wish ill upon any movie. I’ll be seeing it with expectations that Anya is going to have to go to a chiropractor after carrying the majority of this movie on her back. But I’d love to be proven wrong.

Anya as… simply letting her inner Magik shine through.

So what’s next for Anya? COVID has stopped the production of the current must anticipated Edgar Wright film, Last Night In Soho which Anya is a lead in. It’s set in the 1960s and simply from the on set photos, Anya looks stunning in the costumes. Edgar Wright is such a unique director with such a clear vision to his movies. To see Anya in one of his creations is going to be such a treat. We also find her reuniting with her The Witch director Robert Eggers for The Northman and possibly another in development called The Vampyre. Here Are The Young is another movie she has already filmed and set to release that appears to be a movie around troubled teens. It seems a little more generic than what Anya usually does but I’m sure it will be good. Others currently and/or possibly in development which are Weetzie Bat, The Sea Change and The Hunger.

Four films and I can already safely called Anya Taylor-Joy one of my favourite actresses to watch. I plan to watch more and keep up with her career as I can only see it blowing up more and more from here. With the perfect combination set out in front of her, there is no doubt in my mind that an Oscar is coming her way. She might not always be the most obvious starlet in Hollywood to gravitate towards. Typical is boring and Anya Taylor-Joy is anything but. She comes onto the screen and her uniqueness immediately draws you in but it’s her talent that magnetizes you to her. She’s one of a kind and frankly the much needed breathe of fresh air we need.

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