Right from her breakthrough role in The Witch, it was clear that Anya Taylor-Joy is a major talent. Since then her cache has continued to rise, through other horror-thrillers like Glass and Thoroughbreds, period fare like Emma., and last year’s massive Netflix hit series The Queen’s Gambit. Next up, she’s one of the leading stars of Edgar Wright’s Last Night In Soho – and beyond that, she’s set to take on one the most iconic roles in the last decade of cinema: Imperator Furiosa, memorably brought to life by Charlize Theron in George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road. Miller’s long-gestating Furiosa prequel is barrelling towards production with Taylor-Joy lined up to play the younger version of Theron’s character – and the notion of casting her came after Wright screened him an early cut of Last Night In Soho.
In the new Celebration Of Edgar Wright issue of Empire, Miller and Wright got together (virtually) for an epic conversation digging into each other’s work – and Miller brought up the moment he realised Taylor-Joy could be his young Furiosa while watching Wright’s latest work. “I’d known about Anya but I’d never seen her in a film until I saw her in Soho,” he says. “And I remember thinking, ‘Gee, she’s interesting.’ I started to say to you, ‘I’m looking for someone to cast as Furiosa,’ and I barely got the sentence out before you said, ‘Don’t go any further, she’s great, she’s gonna be huge. She’s fantastic to work with.’ You were so emphatic about it.”
Wright’s enthusiastic response was enough to get Miller moving on the audition process – though he’s still yet to meet his new star in person due to the pandemic (“We’ve spoken many, many times now,” he says). But when he tasked her with performing an all-timer iconic movie scene, he knew he’d found his Furiosa. “I said to her, ‘I’d like you to do a very simple test, which is read something to camera.’ And it was the speech from Network. The ‘I’m mad as hell’ speech,” says Miller. “Apart from the brilliance of the writing, it’s a piece that can be done to camera. It doesn’t need an acting partner. Anya did one version, which was really good. Then I gave her just a couple of simple notes about intention and she just absolutely nailed [it]. I think it was done on an iPhone. I sent it to the studio. I explained why I thought she was right for the role. I said I was really happy to talk about it but it was so persuasive that we didn’t need to talk. The studio said, ‘Tick.’”
Read Miller and Wright’s full conversation in the new issue of Empire – also including a major new feature on the making of Last Night In Soho, oral histories on Wright’s previous films, the complete story behind his Grindhouse trailer Don’t, and much more. Find it on newsstands from Thursday 2 September, or pre-order a copy online here.