Before 2014, no one knew who Anya Taylor-Joy was. Today, she’s in everything or at least it appears that way. Looking younger than the 20-year-old actress really is, some have mistaken her for a child actress. With her innocent-looking face, it would appear that Taylor-Joy would be ripe for family-friendly programming, but don’t expect to see her in anything cute and cuddly from the Morgan star any time soon.
Anya was born in Miami then moved to Argentina and moved again to London at age six. She got her exotic looks from her Spanish/English mother and Scottish/Argentinian father. Her first movie role was that on an uncredited part as a “feeder girl” for the 2014 movie, Vampire Academy, but most are more familiar with her breakout role as Thomasin in the 2015 horror flick, The Witch. Ironically, the Witch role was offered to Taylor-Joy at the same time that Disney was offering her a part on a new TV series.
“I had to tell little 11-year-old me, ‘Let that dream go. You outgrew it. Pick The Witch.’ Now I’m like, ‘Good job, adult Anya,'” Anya told Interview magazine.
The Witch opened with record-breaking ticket sales and some critics, like Nigel Smith of the Guardian, said that her performance could make her a possible Oscar nominee, and Justin Chang from Variety praised Anya’s screen presence saying “If there’s any one performer to whom the movie belongs it’s Taylor-Joy.”
In Morgan, Anya plays a manufactured “human” built from synthetic DNA. Unlike normal children, Morgan walks and talks at just one month. She continues to grow and learn at a rapid pace threatening to outsmart her creators. The film is produced by Ridley Scott and directed by newcomer Luke Scott, Ridley’s son. The script was written by Seth Owen who Scott has admitted was intrigued by Owen’s approach to storytelling and questioning scientific motivations.
“What motivates us to synthetically produce or reproduce a human being?” asks Scott in a press release for the movie. “These are issues that encompass faith, morality, science and technology.”
After doing research at Queens University’s microbiology lab, Scott’s next biggest challenge was finding an actress who could pull off being a synthetic human describing the character as “imperfect as a human, but in other ways, she is absolutely perfect. We needed someone who could meet the role’s physical requirements, and had the skill to project somebody who is in many ways childlike.”
Like others, Scott was impressed by Anya Taylor-Joy’s performance in The Witch and with her, the crew was able to create “something that was familiar and recognizable,” says Scott. “I reasoned that if I were a scientist designing this kind of being, I would go out of my way to create something that was indistinguishable from a human being.”
“We didn’t discuss specific scenes,” says Anya. “It was more about Morgan’s viewpoints on certain things and events.”
In Morgan, Kate Mara plays Lee Weathers, an investigator overseeing the aftermath of a “accident” caused the synthetic human and Paul Giamatti plays Alan Shapiro, a psychologist to see if the “human” is “malfunctioning.” His conclusion? Morgan isn’t real or human.
While Morgan comes out in theaters this next weekend, it won’t be long before we Anya Taylor-Joy in another creepy movie. She stars opposite James McAvoy in M. Night Shyamalan’s next thriller, The Split, which comes to theater in January of next year. The Split is about a man who has 23 different personalities with one very strong dominate one wanting to control the others. The man has a plan for abducting teenage girls including one played by Taylor-Joy.
[Photo via 20th Century Fox]