Anya Taylor-Joy Thought She'd 'Never Work Again' After Watching Debut Performance in 'The Witch'

"It was just the worst feeling of, 'I have let down the people I love most in the world. I didn't do it right,' " Anya Taylor-Joy said of playing Thomasin in the 2015 supernatural horror film

Anya Taylor-Joy in The Witch (2015). Photo: A24 / Everett Collection

Anya Taylor-Joy is a household name after her award-winning turn in The Queen's Gambit and recent Saturday Night Live hosting gig, but there was a time she thought her acting days were numbered — barely after they began.

Chatting with The Hollywood Reporter for an interview published Monday, the 25-year-old actress recalled feeling "devastated" while watching The Witch, which marked her film debut, shortly before an audience screening.

"I thought I'd never work again; I still get shivers thinking about it," said Taylor-Joy. "It was just the worst feeling of, 'I have let down the people I love most in the world. I didn't do it right.' "

She added, "And I'm quite verbose — I like to talk, I like to communicate. I did not talk; I just cried. I couldn't handle seeing my face that large."

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Anya Taylor-Joy in The Witch (2015). A24 / Everett Collection

Her audition for The Witch came shortly after she tried out to play the part of the young version of Maleficent in the 2014 film of the same name.

"Oh, I wanted it so badly," Taylor-Joy admitted. "It was Disney and I love Angelina [Jolie]. I look nothing like her, so I was never going to get it, but I was naïve and I thought, 'Miracles happen.' " (Isobelle Molloy and Ella Purnell were eventually cast as the child and teenage Maleficent, respectively.)

She was asked to audition for The Witch afterward "but just never thought I would get it, because the character Thomasin was described as plain," the actress said of her lead role in the film: an oldest sibling dealing with the supernatural in 1630s New England.

"And I just thought, 'Okay, there's a lot of things that I can do, but I can't really change my face that much,' " Taylor-Joy said.

Anya Taylor-Joy
Anya Taylor-Joy. Rodin Eckenroth/WireImage

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Between her gigs in Emma., The Queen's Gambit, the upcoming psychological thriller Last Night in Soho and more, Taylor-Joy told THR that she "worked for a year" straight.

"I had, collectively, a week off that entire year; it was crazy, and I was already starting off at an emotional space where I was like, 'Oh, I don't know if I can do this,' " she admitted.

But despite being "completely overwhelmed" and "tapped out" to the point of considering quitting acting altogether, the silver lining for Taylor-Joy was that it was "the year that has most changed" her — for the better.

"I just fell in love with my job again," she said. "I'd forgotten that the job feeds me. I felt like I'd been feeding it for a little while."

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