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