Anya Taylor-Joy Has Got Good Game

Anya Taylor-Joy has made great strides in TV and film, and the 25-year old has managed to pick up a number of honours, with a Golden Globe Award for her portrayal of chess prodigy Beth Harmon in The Queen’s Gambit.

There may well be more to follow – recent film Last Night in Soho sees her go back to familiar surroundings – she was born in Miami but raised in London. It’s the acclaimed director Edgar Wright’s latest foray into psychological thrillers, and the actress, who has a fascination for the styles and sensibilities of 1960s London, stands out…

RSNG How great is it to be back working, now that you’re able to? ATJ “I’ve always worked at 100kph, so to find myself having to slow down has been difficult. I’ve always been admiring of actors who can be calm and not nervous when they don’t have projects on. I’m not like that – I couldn’t be.”

“I need to be active, moving along, looking for the next thing. I am lucky in the sense that during lockdown I still saw momentum in the projects I’m working on.”

RSNG I’m hearing that you had a bit of an unorthodox way of learning English when you were young? ATJ “I actually learned a lot of English from Harry Potter books. They were the ones that connected me with the English language when we first moved there [from Beunos Aires] and as much as I rebelled against that at first, ultimately, I was swept along by those stories, and they opened my eyes to then language at the same time.”

“But the thing is that although I do speak with a clear and soft English accent because of my time in London and growing up there, I don’t always speak that way. It depends on the people who I am speaking to and who I am around at the time.”

“So, I may seem as if I am a quaint and well-spoken young English lady, but say I am with other English people who are dropping a few letters and speaking a bit more Cockney, that can rub off on me. I think it’s good to be able to change a little bit and God-knows it could help me get future roles that I would never have even thought about reading for, in the future haha!”

I need to be active, moving along, looking for the next thing

RSNG It’s widely known that The Queen’s Gambit was a tremendous hit, breaking Netflix records. But did you feel it would become so popular before you took the role? ATJ “Well, I had read the book and it became so apparent to me that I was falling completely head over heels in love with the main character, Beth. As soon as I had read the book – which didn’t take me long, because I couldn’t put it down – I felt like it would be an amazing adaptation if someone was thinking about making it.”

“Lo and behold, director Scott Frank was making it and yes, I did think it would be a good watch and I was intrigued to see how he would do it for the screen. But did I think it would reach the astronomical number of viewers that it has on Netflix? Not for a second.”

“The thing is, I wasn’t aware that it was blowing up because – what happens if you catch a good run of roles – I was working almost immediately on the next project. That was far from the same as sitting in the warmth indoors, pondering over the next move.”

“I was up on the side of a mountain, barefoot, in the freezing cold and not realizing that the last project was being watched by a lot of people.”

“That was until I would come back down from those cold heights, have something to eat and a nice hot bath and read the notifications on my phone. That’s when I became aware that something good was happening.”

I believe that is music’s greatest achievement – understanding and unity

RSNG Your new film is an interesting one. Tell us a bit about it? ATJ “My new film is set in Soho and called Last Night in Soho. I have always found that area of London so enchanting. It is so rich, so diverse, so alive, but at the same time so dark and mysterious.”

“It is very easy to get lost there in a haze of danger and darkness, and that is what I love about it. Mostly though, it is the people. Like any place, it has to be the people who make it what it is.”

WHAT NEXT? Find out how how Ben Affleck gets through his setbacks in the RSNG interview.