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Anya Taylor-Joy Says Scary Movies Are Like Yoga

The Split actress explains why the genre's so addicting, and why it's annoying to go from blonde to brunette.

Anya Taylor-Joy Says Scary Movies Are Like Yoga
Alec Kugler

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.

On the movie and why she chose to take on this role:

ThemovieisaboutamancalledKevin, oratleasthishostbodyiscalledKevin. Hekidnapsthreeteenagegirlsandasituationthatisprettycrazytobeginwithjustgetscrazierandcrazier. MycharacterisCasey—she’sdefinitelyalittledifferentfromtheothertwo. Sheis, unfortunately,uniquelypreparedforthispositionshefindsherselfin. IwantedtoplayherbecauseIjustfellinlovewithher. Shegetsdeeperanddeeperandmorecomplex. IknewthatIwouldhavetobeveryquietandcommunicatewithmyfaceandmyeyes, sothatwassomethingIwasattractedto.” 

How she was able to get into character:

“Eachcharacter [I’ve played]hasrequiredsomethingdifferentfrommeformetogettoknowthem. Ireallydoseethemasrealpeople. Iknowthatmakesmesoundalittlebuttheyfeelrealtome!WithMorgan [in the movie Morgan], itwasmoreofaphysicalthing. ButwithCasey,Ijustspentsomuchtimeinsideofherhead. IwouldsitdowninmyroomandjustthinkOkay, howdoesCaseylookataroom? Wheredoesshegowhenshecan'tcopewiththis? Whenshecan'tdealwiththis?’ Shesaysthisinthemovie, shelovestobealone—herentirelifeshehastriedtobeinvisible. Ibasicallyworked fromtheinsideout, ifthatmakessense.” 

On her own different identities:

Idefinitelyhaveanon-setsuperwomanstrength,whichisweird! IlovefilmsomuchthatIjustdostuffand,afterwards, I lookbackatitandam like, ‘I'mterrifiedofheightsandIjumpedoffwhat?!’ Butifthecameraisrolling and it's partofthestory, I'lldoit! IwishIhadalittlebitmoreofthatinmyreallife, but yeah, IthinkI'm semi-fearlessinfrontofthecamera.”

How acting in a scary movie is almost like therapy for her:

I recently did an interview—mymomsentapictureofitandwaslike,yousoundlikeapsycho!—Iwaslike, ‘Somepeopledoyoga, Imakescarymovies.’Butit'strue!Itjustpurgesmeofeverything. Whenyouhaveasafe,controlledenvironment, youreallydogettothatcoreofwhoyouarewhatkindofsoundsyoumakewhenyou’re inpain, or whenyouhitawalloffrustrationorsadness. Youconnecttosomethingdeeplyhumanewithin, veryanimalistic, and it releases that. ThenIcangohomeandfeelmorenormal.”

On whether or not she was always into magic and sci-fi:

“Asakid,IwashappiestwhenIwasinthewoodsandIwaswithmyimagination. I sodesperatelywantedmagictobereal, andIthinkmagicisreal! Inasense, Ithinklifeisprettymagical. Iwasalwaysmakingpotions. Inevergotanyonetodrinkone–I'mprettysurethatwouldbedisgusting. ButIwasvery, veryintothatworld." 

The struggle of becoming a brunette for the role:

”Ifyouareanaturalbrunetteandyoudyeyourhairblonde, yourrootscomeout, youlookgrungy, youlookcool. WhenIdidit, myblondewouldjustcomeoutwhiteanditjustlookedlikemyhairwasfallingout. Thatisnotsexy, notcute! SoIhadtogetmyrootsdoneallthetimebecausemyhairgrowsbackreallyfast. IwentbacktoblondemainlybecauseIcouldn'tsitinanotherhairandmakeupchairItsounds silly,butIwentouttodinnerwithafriendofmineandshewaslikeAreyouokay? Isyourhairfallingoutfromthestressofyourjob?!’ Iwaslike,Myhairisnotfallingout! It'sjustwhite!’

Why everyone should see Split, in her own words:

“It's unpredictable! It's reallyentertaining,withastellarperformancefromJamesMcAvoythatwilljustblowyourbrainsout! Ifyouwanttoseeanactorreallygettoplayandenjoyhimselfandhavefunwiththeaudience,thisisthefilmtogoandsee. Iamgenuinelysoproudofit! Ilovethismovie! It'ssuperquirky, it'ssupercool, Iloveit.” 

Part of the series:

One On One

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