Anya Taylor-Joy almost had a very different career before she became a breakout star in Robert Eggers’ 2015 horror film The Witch.
The actress recently explained that she was offered two roles on the same day: one in a Disney Channel pilot and one as Thomasin in The Witch. Had she chosen the Disney pilot instead, her career trajectory might have been unrecognizable from the one she’s on today.
“I remember it was the same day I got asked to be in a Disney Channel pilot, and it was so exciting to be offered anything at all that I ran around the house like a loon,” she told Harper’s Bazaar in a recent cover interview. “But I just had this really good feeling about The Witch that made me willing to forego the Disney experience for the thing that felt unknown to me, the thing that felt sacred.”
The film, which premiered to acclaim at Sundance in 2015, takes place in New England in 1630. It follows Thomasin, a young farm girl whose baby brother vanishes while under her care, prompting her family to blame her for his disappearance and suspect her of witchcraft.
Shooting for the movie took place in a remote location in Canada. The experience was a formative one for Taylor-Joy, who was still a teenager at the time.
“It gave me the cornerstones of the way I work now, which is essentially the idea that there is no hierarchy on set: you work hard, you stay on top of the shots and you don’t assume anyone else is going to do that for you,” she said. “Your title doesn’t stop at actor – you’re a creative on this film, and that’s how you need to approach it.”
But before she heard the positive reviews of her performance in The Witch, Taylor-Joy was quite discouraged.
“I thought I’d done a really bad job, and I saw myself failing miserably with this dream I’d had for such a long time,” she said. “I guess I’m not always the best judge of my own work.”
On the contrary, The Witch was just the beginning of a wildly successful career for Taylor-Joy, who has gone on to star in a long list of films including The Queen’s Gambit, Thoroughbreds, Last Night in Soho, The Northman, The Menu, and Amsterdam.
Main Image: Anya Taylor-Joy in The Witch. Credit: A24