Tom Jolliffe on the rise of Anya Taylor-Joy and just how far she could go…
Have you seen The Queen’s Gambit? Have you? What about you? You must see The Queen’s Gambit (and repeat ad nauseum). The latest water cooler TV show that only a few sad wretches haven’t yet seen is making waves across the world. For a number of reasons it’s essential viewing but one of those reasons is overwhelming – Anya Taylor-Joy. She’s made a name for herself from a young age, capturing the attention of audiences with a combination of striking looks and magnetic talent.
She broke out with a star turn in Robert Eggers’ critical smash, The Witch. This American/British/Argentine actress made us take notice, able to portray an inner complexity even with roles light on dialogue. She also caught the eye with a recurring role in Peaky Blinders and another starring role in Split, M. Night Shyamalan’s return to top form. There was the underrated (moreso from Joe Public as opposed to critics, who were positive) Thoroughbreds. Under 25, she’d made significant movement to the base of the big league and then a well timed shift of her chess piece, and The Queen’s Gambit has now rocketed her up to the top of the heap, up with the hottest and most in demand talents in the business.
Anya Taylor-Joy is the signature every studio probably wants to get, soon to hit a stratosphere that Margot Robbie did after The Wolf of Wall Street. Even the misstep of The New Mutants won’t stop Taylor-Joy from a run of potential A-list dominance for the next couple of decades.
A Golden Globe win for her turn in The Queen’s Gambit was a foregone conclusion. It’s a great show and she’s sensational. She’s impossible to shift your gaze from, always enthralling. It’s not even a barnstorming kind of role, it’s introverted, very refrained. It takes a rare gift to be that powerful without masses of dialogue, and something she seems to have in abundance. In days gone past TV might have been considered a little lesser, or a medium where subtlety is displaced by broader strokes, in order to more succinctly portray a mood or feeling. Not so this century of course, and if anything, TV is overtaking film for brilliantly written and subtle drama. Whichever medium though, this is an actress well skilled in creating an interesting character that will grab its audience.
Just how far can she go? I would say we could be looking at an actress who will be an awards regular in years to come, and undoubtedly successfully mixing the money spinning films, with those which will capture the gaze of award voting panels. We’ve seen that with fellow young wonders like Jennifer Lawrence, Margot Robbie, Awkwafina, Timothee Chalamet, LaKeith Stanfield, Daniel Kaluuya and Saoirse Ronan. The future is bright and there’s a lot of talent around. It also seems like we’re hitting an era less concerned with the next superstar. Where concept rules over star name to an extent, so the big league young stars need a powerful talent. They need complexity. It may well be the most exciting young bunch for at least 30 years. I’m enamoured by many of them, looking forward to seeing what they deliver, but perhaps Taylor-Joy more than most. She’s going to be an Oscar winner, a few times over perhaps too.
What lies in the immediate future is an eclectic mix and the first signs of becoming a heavyweight hitter. The much anticipated next instalment of George Miller’s Mad Max franchise sees her playing the young Furiosa and steering that sand and sun pounded post apocalyptic world away from Max. It’s going to be big. It’s tentpole and it’s her film (perhaps to the chagrin of Charlize Theron). She also has a three film lightning bolt run with three of the best directors around. There’s Last Night in Soho with Edgar Wright (which means potential cult movie), a new David O. Russell film (which could mean award season attention) and the next film from auteur Robert Eggers, Northman (a reteaming for her with The Witch director). This one in particular really allures me. The cast is eclectic, full of really interesting and great character actors and a mouth watering setting. Eggers has an innate gift it seems, to make a film exactly as he would like it, and whilst The Witch and The Lighthouse might have divided some, those who love them, absolutely LOVE them (me). She may also have a feature with the creator of The Queen’s Gambit, Scott Frank (who undoubtedly knows how to get the best from her) called Laughter in The Dark. Let’s see how the land lies and the trophy cabinet looks in the next couple of years. I’d dare say, impressive.
Tom Jolliffe is an award winning screenwriter and passionate cinephile. He has a number of films out on DVD/VOD around the world and several releases due out in 2021, including, Renegades (Lee Majors, Danny Trejo, Michael Pare, Tiny Lister, Ian Ogilvy and Billy Murray), Crackdown, When Darkness Falls and War of The Worlds: The Attack (Vincent Regan). Find more info at the best personal site you’ll ever see…https://www.instagram.com/jolliffeproductions/