There’s being dedicated and there’s being dedicated. Anya Taylor-Joy is dedicated. Such is the staunchly committed work ethic of the 20-year-old actress that she’s not averse to filming “intense” scenes – involving hysteria, tears and tunnels – amid a rather serious bout of food poisoning. “I would be there doing the scene, fighting the urge to be so violently ill and then they would cut and I’d just go to the side and throw up a couple of times in a bucket,” she says, of a recent experience. But for her it’s all part of the job. “By the end of that day I went home and I was like, ‘What did I just do? That was insane’.” And she wouldn’t have it any other way: “But we got the shot.”
That work ethic is also the reason why the past two years have seen her fast-tracked to breakthrough actress status with the success of her role as Thomasin in The Witch, the supernatural horror that is both harrowing and beautifully bleak, directed by Robert Eggers. The eldest daughter in a devout Christian family who move to New England in the 1630s, Thomasin is blamed for the disappearance of her baby brother and the bewitching of her other younger brother. The Guardian praised Anya’s performance as Oscar-nominee-worthy, Vanity Fair described her as being “destined for big things”, and Variety singled her out as pretty much owning the whole film.
“MY FIRST LOVE IS NOT A BOY; IT’S ACTING,”
Until the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, no one in Hollywood had heard of Anya Taylor-Joy, a wide-eyed teenager from Miami, Florida starring in the low-budget horror movie The Witch. But that was just the beginning of things for the young model-turned-actress. “Everything changed really, really quickly after that movie and it’s continuing to change,” she says. “I went to Sundance and didn’t really go home.”
Now, Taylor-Joy is starring Morgan, a sci-fi film produced by Ridley Scott, and Barry, the Barack Obama biopic that premiered at the Toronto Film Festival and regularly wears brands like Chanel and Gucci. For these reasons, we crowned her the new indie queen in W‘s Royals portfolio, and paired her with actress Elle Fanning, an equally stylish teenage actress who, too, I poised beyond her years.
Four Actresses on the Rise, in Minimalist Knits
When she was just 17, Anya Taylor-Joy was faced with a particularly meaningful decision: She could fulfill her childhood dream of appearing on a Disney show, or she could make her lead-role debut in “The Witch,” the puritanical horror film that would eventually launch her to stardom. “I had to be honest with myself, and realized that I’m a lot darker and less bubbly than I thought I would be at this age,” the now-20-year-old says. A former model — she was discovered while walking in London, where she was tailed by a car containing the Storm Model Management founder Sarah Doukas — Taylor-Joy will next star as an at-risk artificial being in the sci-fi thriller “Morgan,” the debut film from Luke Scott, the son of filmmaker Tony Scott. It’s been a rapid ascent, to be sure, made real when Taylor-Joy recently spilled trade secrets with her acting idol, Saoirse Ronan. “That was the first time I thought, ‘I guess I’m officially an actor.’”