Robert Eggers’ 2015 horror movie “The Witch” served as an acting breakthrough for Anya Taylor-Joy. But while the film led to more sizable roles for the young actress, including a studio debut in M. Night Shyamalan’s “Split,” it also gave her the first real heartbreak of her life. During an interview with “God’s Own Country” and “The Crown” star Josh O’Connor for Variety’s “Actors on Actors” series, Taylor-Joy recalled how emotionally overwhelming it was to wrap production on her first feature film.
“I cry hysterically on airplanes,” Taylor-Joy said when asked if she has a go-to thing she does after filming a movie or television series. “But it’s good crying. My first heartbreak was not a relationship. My first heartbreak was finishing my first job [on “The Witch”], and experiencing that loss. The loss of there was a world that existed with a group of people that became my everything for a period of time, and now it’s over. I had no concept as to how to deal with that.”
Flashing forward to “The Queen’s Gambit,” the Netflix limited series sensation starring Taylor-Joy as a damaged chess prodigy, the actress added, “I think spending seven episodes with Beth was good. Any less, I would’ve felt cheated or I would’ve felt like I didn’t spend the time with her to make sure that she was ok. It sounds mental, but I know you understand what I mean.”
Taylor-Joy’s ascent from “The Witch” to “The Queen’s Gambit” marks a five-year journey in which she has become one of the most in-demand actors in Hollywood. She’s currently a frontrunner to land an Emmy nomination for Best Actress in a Limited Series thanks to “The Queen’s Gambit,” which won her prizes from the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild Awards earlier this year. Next up for Taylor-Joy is playing Furiosa in George Miller’s highly anticipated “Mad Max: Fury Road” prequel, which will be the biggest film project of her career so far.
“The thing that makes me most excited about ‘Furiosa’ is, No. 1, George Miller,” Taylor-Joy told O’Connor. “That brain is incredible. I feel so lucky and privileged to spend time with him, and to grow alongside him. I’m also really excited to do something physical. To physically become something else is something that will weirdly give me a lot of peace. I’m quite excited to work hard.”
Taylor-Joy also reunited with “The Witch” director Robert Eggers last year to shoot “The Northman,” opening April 2022 from Focus Features. The intense feelings that broke her heart on “The Witch” were exactly the same feelings Taylor-Joy couldn’t wait to experience again heading into working with Eggers and his team again.
“Robert and I have now been friends longer than we have been co-workers,” Taylor-Joy said in an interview last year. “Getting the opportunity to create art together again is amazing. We have both grown so much apart and now we get to grow back together. I am so proud to be a part of this project. Every moment on set I am proud. I think we will be presenting to the world something it genuinely hasn’t seen before. I just feel so humbled I get to be a part of it.”
Head over to Variety’s website to read Taylor-Joy and O’Connor’s conversation in its entirety. “The Queen’s Gambit” is now streaming on Netflix.