Anya Taylor-Joy is quickly making a name for herself in Hollywood.
The actress, 19, became a Sundance sensation in 2015 with her breakout role in The Witch, playing the eldest daughter in a Puritan family threatened by witchcraft. And with the film’s nationwide release on Feb. 19, it seems the rest of the world has also been struck by her terrifying yet gut-wrenching performance.
So who is the up-and-coming actress behind one this year’s most buzzed-about horror films? Here are five things to know about Taylor-Joy:
She grew up living between Argentina and London.
“It was very difficult to leave Argentina when I was kid, so I only spoke Spanish for the first six years of my life. I refused to learn English for two years when we moved to London hoping to send my family back home. It was tough, but at the same time it has given me a sense of displacement that actually really suits the life that I’m living now. I don’t really feel like I belong anywhere, which makes me belong everywhere. Plus they are both beautiful places that I love being able to call my home.”
She never struggled with the Puritan-inspired New England dialect in The Witch.
“I find it semi-bizarre now, looking back, that when I read the script it never crossed my mind that this is different than the way people speak today – I never thought about it. I just thought it was beautiful, it’s like poetry. I have this annoying real-life habit but great for acting where I mimic the people I’m around, so it’s easier for me to pick up different accents [and dialect]. Lucas, one of the 6-year-olds, had this broad Yorkshire accent, so I would just talk with him to get into the accent of it all.”
She’s a believer in the supernatural.
“I have always believed in magic. I used to run into the woods as a little kid looking for witches. But I’m not superstitious because I m not afraid of it. I see it as something really beautiful, and I wouldn’t want to live in a world without magic.”
She’s always wanted to be an actress.
“It sounds really precious but I can’t actually remember becoming aware of it – I just know that my entire life I’ve wanted to be an actress. I have too many feelings and I just needed to express them in some way, whether that was like dancing or something else, but acting was never a choice. I was just like, ‘I’m going to be an actor, that’s what’s going to happen.’ ”
She admires actress Saoirse Ronan.
“I don’t get starstruck, but if I met her I would die. I watched all of her movies in one day and just thought, ‘The roles that you’ve picked, you didn’t sell out in the slightest. You picked incredible, amazing roles and have told stories that a lot of other people would have shied away from and you did them beautifully.’ That’s what I want to do. I want to pick stories that mean something – like The Witch did.”