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EXCLUSIVE: Horror It Girl Anya Taylor-Joy Overcomes Her Fear of Fashion

by Stacy Lambe 6:10 AM PST, December 26, 2016
Photo: Getty Images

You can say Anya Taylor-Joy is something of a modern scream queen, breaking into film this year with The Witch, Morgan and the upcoming Split from M. Night Shyamalan. Aside from Netflix’s Barack Obama biopic, Barry, Taylor-Joy’s first three movies have established her as the new It girl of the horror genre.

The Witch, in particular, was a 2015 Sundance Film Festival breakout that scared up $40 million at the box office when it was released in February and topped Rolling Stone and Vulture’s top horror film lists. The film, about a Puritan family threated by witchcraft, earned nominations at the Critics’ Choice Awards and Independent Spirit Awards as well as a Gotham Award for Breakthrough Actor for Taylor-Joy, where the 20-year-old actress stunned in a Gucci gown designed by Alessandro Michele.

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“He made me love fashion,” Taylor-Joy says of the designer. Her glamorous look on the red carpet -- the first of many to come -- was a far cry from the layers of mud and blood she’s usually covered in on screen. 

Despite her background as a ballet dancer, the actress says she was a “real tomboy” growing up. “I was usually covered in mud, like on a motorbike or something,” Taylor-Joy reveals. “Fashion used to really stress me out and recently, I have been really embracing it. I see it as works of art, and, if Frida Kahlo would wear it, I would usually wear it.”

“What would Frida do?” she muses. “Frida or Bjork, I am there.” 

Anya Taylor-Joy at the 2016 Gotham Awards and in The Witch. Photo: Getty Images

Taylor-Joy’s next film, Split, sees the actress starring opposite James McAvoy, who plays a man with 23 different personalities who abducts three girls, including Taylor-Joy’s character. “I was amazed how it really kept you on the edge of your seat,” she says of the film, which premiered at the Fantastic Fest in September and is scheduled to hit theaters on Jan. 20. “Obviously, when you’re acting in it, you don’t see the finished product. So actually seeing it, you get to meet your character for the first time and you get to understand what you’ve made communally.” 

“I’m excited to see the rest of the movies I’ve been shooting, to be honest,” Taylor-Joy adds, referring to Marrowbone and Thoroughbred, co-starring the late Anton Yelchin, both of which are slated for 2017. 

But there is one catch: “I will always hate my face,” she reveals, admitting it’s an issue she has to get over in order to watch herself on screen. “I love to act, so I try to separate those things.” 

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While she only has a handful of films to her name, Taylor-Joy reacts to her own vanities like a seasoned pro. “In my opinion, you have made a movie with a whole bunch of people and it’s not just about you. You’ve got to support your family. You’ve got to support your career.”

And when she looks back on the year, it’s those friends Taylor-Joy has made on set that mean the most to her. “They have stuck by me through everything,” she says. “The year goes by and we’re still as tight.” 

“It’s really difficult to make a family and then leave a family,” Taylor-Joy continues. “But when you know that you have made a family that you keep around forever, I feel proud.”

--Additional reporting from Darla Murray

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