Even though she claims not to be a horror movie geek, Anya Taylor-Joy, at all of 20, is quickly become the genre’s leading heroine. The latest indie star to emerge out of Sundance in her critically adored horror film The Witch in 2015, which became a surprise hit last year, the young Argentine-British model-turned-actress has gone on to star in the underrated sci-fi horror film Morgan as well as M. Night Shyamalan’s latest fright, Split, in which Taylor-Joy’s actor falls prey to a terrifying schizophrenic. (In between, she also managed to feature in the Barack Obama biopic Barry, as his collegiate girlfriend.) Here, she reveals her strangest fears, and why making horror movies is kind of therapy—even if she is a “scaredy cat.”
Public Appearances > Appearances from 2017 > January 21: Creators League Studio at 2017 Sundance Film Festival – Day 3
Public Appearances > Appearances from 2017 > January 22: AT&T at The Lift – Day 3 – 2017 Park City
The Split actress explains why the genre’s so addicting, and why it’s annoying to go from blonde to brunette.
Talking to Anya Taylor-Joy is sort of like watching a suspenseful movie. With each passing moment, you’re sure something crazy’s about to go down—or, in this case, that the star can’t possibly this sweet and genuine—but with Anya, the big reveal never comes. She happens to be the real-deal: an insanely talented actress, who’s so passionate about her job, she starts to question if she sounds crazy while explaining it.
Anya’s newest film, Split, however, is full surprises you’d never (in a million years) expect, and not all of them are scary ones either. Some will make you think, and “the twist” will have you Googling, but it’s earning M. Night Shyamalan praise once again—and making us even bigger fans of Anya.
When we caught up with her, she explained why she enjoys doing scary movies so much, along with her process for getting into character (spoiler alert: it seems intense). Anya also shared the struggles of going from blonde to brunette, and why a friend asked if she was balding one night at dinner.
Actress says she spent school years ‘crying in bathrooms’ after moving from Argentina
Model and actress Anya Taylor-Joy says she was so badly bullied at her west London school that she fled to New York as a teenager to escape.
The rising star, now 20, was born in Miami then lived in Argentina until she was six. She said she struggled to be accepted after moving to Britain.
“When I was younger I didn’t really feel like I fit in anywhere,” she said.
“I was too English to be Argentine, too Argentine to be English, too American to be anything.”
The star said she had “a tough time” in the classroom.
“The kids just didn’t understand me in any shape or form, and I was really badly bullied,” she said. “I used to get locked in lockers, you know, barred from classrooms, not invited to things. It wasn’t pleasant.”
Taylor-Joy said she spent a lot of her time in school “crying in bathrooms”.
“We’re social creatures and we don’t do well when we’re not accepted, or when we feel like we don’t belong anywhere,” she said.
She said her decision to move to New York at 14 — then give up school two years later to act — “terrified” her family.
But at 17 she got her big break, when she was spotted by a modelling scout as she walked her dog outside Harrods, and she is now in the running for the EE Bafta Rising Star Award.
She faces competition from other up-and-coming talent including Ruth Negga and Tom Holland.
Past winners include James McAvoy, with whom Taylor-Joy is starring in her latest project, M Night Shyamalan’s Split.
She plays an abused woman in the film, a role which she found emotionally difficult.
She said: “My characters are incredibly real for me and I was just in so much pain for her.
“No one should ever have to endure that, and I don’t know where people get off thinking that they own other women’s bodies, because you are the only owner of your body and no one is allowed to touch you without your consent.”
She terrified audiences in The Witch and played Barack Obama’s girlfriend in Barry. Now Anya Taylor-Joy is starring in M Night Shyamalan’s new thriller and competing for a Bafta. She talks to Samuel Fishwick about overcoming the school bullies and ‘pranking’ James McAvoy
For someone on the cusp of Hollywood superstardom, with its fans, foes and endless requests for selfies, Anya Taylor-Joy is refreshingly off-duty around strangers. She stoops to stroke someone’s puppy outside The Ivy Kensington Brasserie where we meet, cheerfully asks for a cigarette lighter from a passerby and gives me a massive hug as a greeting.
The Bafta Rising Star nominee, 20, is in the middle of a full-on press tour for M Night Shyamalan’s latest thriller, Split, and only arrived in London on a flight from New York an hour before we meet. Wearing a short leather miniskirt with bare legs despite the cold, her blonde hair pulled back in a jaunty high ponytail, she’s quick with smiles and laughter and her mood seems high-octane and excitable — but isn’t she tired?