If you’re looking to cast a period piece, Anya Taylor-Joy has increasingly become the one to call. She broke out of the 2015 Sundance Film Festival with Robert Eggers’ searing horror folktale “The Witch” as the sexually repressed elder sister in an excommunicated New England family. She starred in the PBS miniseries “The Miniaturist” as a 17th-century New Amsterdam woman bewitched by dollhouses. And she starred in the recent season of the gangster period epic “Peaky Blinders.”
Taylor-Joy returns in 2020 as Jane Austen heroine Emma Woodhouse in music-video director turned first-time filmmaker Autumn de Wilde’s “Emma,” which Focus Features will release on February 21. Austen’s beloved comedy about finding your equal and earning your happy ending is reimagined in this new film adaptation, with a script from Eleanor Catton. Watch the first teaser trailer below.
Austen’s 1815 novel about the titular restless queen bee who, unrivaled in her sleepy small town, adventures through misguided matches and romantic missteps on the path to love, has been adapted to the screen before.
1995’s “Clueless” revised the story to fit modern-day Beverly Hills, with Alicia Silverstone as Emma stand-in Cher Horowitz. 1996’s “Emma” introduced Gwyneth Paltrow to the world. In 2020, an Indian adaptation of the novel, “Aisha,” starred Sonam Kapoor. And of course the novel has been adapted to television many times, with various BBC broadcasts and miniseries — most memorably a 1996 miniseries starring Kate Beckinsale as Emma.
The rest of the cast for de Wilde’s vision of “Emma” includes Gemma Whelan and Mrs. Weston, Josh O’Connor as Mr. Elton, Bill Nighy as Mr. Woodhouse, Mia Goth as Harriet Smith, and Callum Turner as Frank Churchhill. Prior to directing “Emma,” Autumn de Wilde helmed music videos for the likes of Florence + the Machine, Rilo Kiley, Beck, Jenny and Johnny (RIP), and more.
“Emma” is a departure for star Taylor-Joy, who tends to lean into darkness. “In Hollywood people always want you to have a thing,” Taylor-Joy said in a recent interview with IndieWire. “People give you a thing, whether you want it or not. I followed the roles that I love and the story that I love. I never make the decision of, ‘I’m pretty good at horror, so I’m going to keep doing this right now.’ It’s more just like my characters just happen to inhabit very dark worlds.”