Taylor Swift Says Quarantine Movie Nights Inspired Album: 'Opened This Portal in My Imagination'

"I feel like consuming other people's art and storytelling sort of opened this portal in my imagination," she said

Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift. Photo: Kevin Mazur/WireImage

Movie nights in quarantine played a part in Taylor Swift's creative process for her album folklore.

The "Cardigan" singer, 30, appears on the cover of Entertainment Weekly's January 2021 issue as one of the Entertainers of the Year, opening up about her career and her most recent musical project. Swift told the magazine that Folklore drew some inspiration from her at-home entertainment while isolating with boyfriend Joe Alwyn during the pandemic.

"I wasn't expecting to make an album," she said. "Early on in quarantine, I started watching lots of films. We would watch a different movie every night. I'm ashamed to say I hadn't seen Pan's Labyrinth before. One night I'd watch that, then I'd watch L.A. Confidential, then we'd watch Rear Window, then we'd watch Jane Eyre."

"I feel like consuming other people's art and storytelling sort of opened this portal in my imagination and made me feel like: 'Well, why have I never done this before? Why have I never created characters and intersecting storylines? And why haven't I ever sort of freed myself up to do that from a narrative standpoint?' "

Entertainers of the Year 2020
Swift's Entertainer of the Year cover reunites the pop star with her Folklore photographer, Beth Garrabrant. Beth Garrabrant for EW

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Swift explained that taking inspiration from the movies and entertainment she consumed during isolation helped her be more cinematic in her songwriting, opening her imagination.

"There is something a little heavy about knowing when you put out an album, people are going to take it so literally that everything you say could be clickbait," she told EW. "It was really, really freeing to be able to just be inspired by worlds created by the films you watch or books you've read or places you've dreamed of or people that you've wondered about, not just being inspired by your own experience."

For the album, Alwyn, 29 — known for roles in The Favourite and Harrietco-wrote the songs "Betty" and "Exile" with Swift under the pseudonym William Bowery.

"That was huge for me," Swift said of writing from a male perspective in "Betty." "And I think it came from the fact that my co-writer, William Bowery [Joe Alwyn], is male — and he was the one who originally thought of the chorus melody. And hearing him sing it, I thought, 'That sounds really cool.' "

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"Obviously, I don't have a male voice, but I thought, 'I could have a male perspective.' Patty Griffin wrote this song, 'Top of the World.' It's one of my favorite songs of all time, and it's from the perspective of this older man who has lived a life full of regret, and he's kind of taking stock of that regret. So, I thought: 'This is something that people I am a huge fan of have done. This would be fun to kind of take this for a spin.' "

Alwyn and Swift began dating in fall 2016, which she confirmed in a diary entry from the deluxe edition of her album Lover.

While the two have kept their relationship private, Alwyn made a brief appearance in her Netflix documentary Miss Americana in which the “Blank Space” singer ran into the actor’s arms before they walked around backstage following one of her concerts.

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