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Anya Taylor-Joy Was ‘Devastated’ After Watching Her ‘Witch’ Acting: ‘Thought I’d Never Work Again’

"I did not talk, I just cried," Taylor-Joy said. "I couldn’t handle seeing my face that large."

THE WITCH, (aka THE VVITCH: A NEW-ENGLAND FOLKTALE), Anya Taylor-Joy, 2015. ©A24/courtesy Everett Collection

“The Witch”

Everett Collection / Everett Collection

Watching yourself onscreen can be hard to endure; just ask Anya Tayloy-Joy. During an interview with The Hollywood Reporter as part of her Emmys campaign for “The Queen’s Gambit,” the actress admitted to feeling “devastated” after watching her performance in Robert Eggers’ “The Witch” for the first time. The 2015 horror movie world-premiered at the Sundance Film Festival to great acclaim and served as Taylor-Joy’s breakthrough, but her first impression of the film was rather dire.

“Rob [Eggers] showed us the film maybe two hours before the audience screening, and I was devastated,” Taylor-Joy said. “I thought I’d never work again, I still get shivers thinking about it. It was just the worst feeling of, ‘I have let down the people I love most in the world. I didn’t do it right’  And I’m quite verbose, I like to talk, I like to communicate. I did not talk, I just cried. I couldn’t handle seeing my face that large.”

Taylor-Joy of course did work again, making the jump to Hollywood studio films after “The Witch” by starring in M. Night Shyamalan’s “Split.” The actress hasn’t stopped working since “The Witch,” starring in Shyamalan’s “Glass,” the X-Men movie “New Mutants,” Autumn de Wilde’s “Emma,” Netflix’s limited series sensation “The Queen’s Gambit,” and more. Later this year, Taylor-Joy will start pre-production on her biggest role to date: Furiosa in George Miller’s “Mad Max: Fury Road” prequel. She also has reunited with Eggers for “The Northman,” releasing April 2022 from Focus Features. The film was a full circle moment as it also stars her “Witch” co-star Kate Dickie.

“I was in Northern Ireland, in Belfast, with Robert Eggers, filming a movie I’m very proud of called ‘The Northman,'” Taylor-Joy said when asked how she discovered all the “Queen’s Gambit” fan praise. “But I mean, you can’t get more different than ‘The Northman’ and ‘The Queen’s Gambit.’ I was isolating, alone in this apartment with nothing but my phone, and my phone was telling me information that I could not compute. And then luckily Kate came to stay with me — Kate Dickie, who plays my mom in ‘The Witch’ — and every day just more information would come in, and I’d just look at her and I’d say, ‘I think it’s going well. I think people are liking the show.'”

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