Anya Taylor-Joy Says COVID and Flash Floods Didn’t Stop Furiosa
Feb 10, 2023
Anya Taylor-Joy keeps putting herself in dangerous situations. Earlier this year, she battled Vikings alongside “The Northman,” and her latest movie, “The Menu,” finds her caught up at a dangerous destination restaurant that isn’t necessarily what it seems. But for most of the year, the Emmy winner was down under, shooting the “Mad Max: Fury Road” prequel, “Furiosa,” in Australia.
READ MORE: “Furiosa”: New Synopsis Reveals Heroine Will Face A New Wasteland Warlord
Stepping into the boots of a younger version of the character Charlize Theron originated in “Fury Road,” Taylor-Joy knew she was testing her endurance when taking the role in a George Miller “Mad Max” film (something her “Menu” co-star Nicholas Hoult knows all too well). Unlike the last installment, which had infamous delays, “Furiosa” wrapped on time. But, according to Tayor-Joy, it had to overcome a ton of real-world challenges to get there.
“I sort of make a joke, and I say this to George, any place there’s a drought, just send George Miller to make a movie there, and it will pour,” Tayor-Joy says. “So we had torrential rain and flooding for the entirety of the shoot. And that’s quite intense when you’re making a desert film where there’s no water. But to his credit, I’ve never seen somebody that is so dedicated and so present. We’re shooting three units. He is on all of them, and he never went down. I saw a lot of things that said that we had shut down production or production was delayed, and none of that was true. We kept going through everything, through COVID, through the rain. George did not go down. And that’s quite important to me that people know that because, yeah. Yeah. He is really incredible. And when he had COVID, he showed up to set on an iPad with a little hat and a jacket, and we continue to shoot. I need people to know that that’s his dedication level because we didn’t once shut down in the whole six and a half months that we were going.”
During our conversation earlier this week, Taylor-Joy reflected on the unusual process of shooting “The Menu,” whether she’s truly a foodie, how much Hoult had to eat on camera (it was a lot), and much, much more.
The Playlist: The script comes your way. What about it made you say, “Yes, I want to go to Savannah and spend three or four months making this film?”Anya Taylor-Joy: Oh goodness. Well, I am terribly annoying to watch any film or television show with because I can always guess the next line. I can guess the ending. I can guess the overarching theme. It’s a game that I play with myself. I should technically probably keep it in my own head rather than spoiling it for everybody else. But it’s a fun game that I play. And with “The Menu” on every page that I turned, I had no idea that that was going to happen. And I just thought, “O.K., this is exciting. This is original. It’s so funny, it’s so dark.” And currently, in my life, I’m just trying to put myself in absolutely unique situations. And I think, having seen the film, you can agree there are quite a few terribly unique experiences that all of us go through. And I just wanted to be in the room, and I’m so glad that I was because we had a ball, a genuine ball.
Margot is a very interesting character, and her character keeps changing throughout the film. Did you feel like you had to give her a backstory at all to get her where she ends up? Completely. Yeah. I just wanted to imagine what her week looked like or what she would do when she wasn’t [on the island]. Because there are elements to this without giving any spoilers away where it’s almost a performance within a performance, and that enigmatic quality that she has, you peel it away. And I was almost playing two different people at times. And I think having that inner world for her was very helpful to me because then I could decide when the facade went up and when it dropped and at what moments I could do that.
Are you a foodie? Did that part of the film appeal to you at all?I love food. But I’m not particularly fussy about, obviously, an incredible meal. But mostly, I just don’t like being hungry, so I get very “hanxious,” which I call hungry anxious. So, I just need to be full at quite a constant level. It definitely gave me a new appreciation of the art of food, though, because I watched a lot of “Chef’s Table” beforehand, trying to get a bit of a handle on who these creatives were that were so passionate about what they were doing. And I have a lot more appreciation now, I think, for when I do go to a fancy restaurant. But I’m more of a takeaway girl, myself.
When you guys were on set, I know that there were real chefs playing the sous-chefs. Were you guys eating the real food? Were you eating a lot of food on set, or was it take a little bite, move on?I wasn’t particularly, but I have to tip my hat off to my wonderful co-star, Nick Hoult, who, as the foodie of the movie, had to devour every plate, every take. And he did it. He committed to it, almost to the point where sometimes I was a bit worried about his health. You can’t stuff that much bread in your mouth all day long and be okay. But yes, I didn’t get to eat that much in the movie, so I was always very much looking forward to lunch because it’s quite torturous to be sat in front of delicious-looking food and not eat it.
This is what I’m curious about, though. It’s lunch, and you’ve got all this food that they’ve made for the film. It just can’t go to waste. Were they bringing it over so you guys could eat it in craft services?Well, I mean, certain dishes are O.K. for the day, as in you can make a big batch in the morning, and they’ll be all right. But for things like the scallops, that eventually becomes a potato because you can’t eat fish that’s been out all day long. The movie would’ve shut down relatively quickly if that had been the case. Also, the irony of us getting food poisoning on a movie called “The Menu” would just be too much for anybody.
I talked to Mark Mylod a couple of weeks ago and he told me one of the interesting things about the film is that when the scenes were happening in the dining room, all the actors were there. How did that help you in your own scenes?Well, it’s interesting because it was something that Mark wanted, especially when we were doing wides; the camera was just roving. So, all of us had to be improvising as the characters the whole time because we didn’t know whether you were on camera or not. You didn’t know if the camera was going to come and find you. And that was something that he wanted to do creatively that I think we all really relished. However, in moments when we could step offset, all of us chose not to because we have a front-row seat to brilliant actors performing. And so we all just stayed, and we would clap after takes, and it was just an incredibly supportive environment. It felt like being on a stage in a play for 12 hours a day for two and a half months, and we all really like each other and each other’s work. So, it was wonderful.
And the film, like lots of Mark’s work, has a very specific tone. What did he say to you about filming in that regard?Visually, he referenced Robert Altman. In terms of the tone, I think we played around with that in terms of take to take. So, sometimes we had to be more comedic, and sometimes we had to be a bit darker. And I think Mark’s just such a master of hitting that very specific, teeny-tiny bullseye.And he runs a very supportive, collaborative set where everyone’s allowed to interject and throw in their own ideas, but he very gently has a complete hold over it. He really knows what it needs and he knows how to get the best out of his actors.
I know that you recently wrapped on “Furiosa,” which people are so looking forward to, and I think one of the most amazing things is that for a George Miller film, and this is no shade, it ended on time. Were there any typical George Miller hardships, a dust storm, for example, that affected production? Or was it sort of smooth sailing?Oh goodness, no. I sort of make a joke, and I say this to George, any place there’s a drought, just send George Miller to make a movie there, and it will pour. So, we had torrential rain and flooding for the entirety of the shoot. And that’s quite intense when you’re making a desert film where there’s no water. But to his credit, I’ve never seen somebody that is so dedicated and so present. We’re shooting three units. He is on all of them, and he never went down. I saw a lot of things that said that we had shut down production or production was delayed, and none of that was true. We kept going through everything, through COVID, through the rain. George did not go down. And that’s quite important to me that people know that because, Yeah. Yeah. He is really incredible. And when he had COVID, he showed up to set on an iPad with a little hat and a jacket, and we continued to shoot. I need people to know that that’s his dedication level because we didn’t once shut down in the whole six and a half months that we were going.
I know you don’t want to give too much away about that film, but if there’s one word or one phrase you could say to tease people about the film, what would it be?Epic.
“The Menu” opens nationwide on Friday
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