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Anya Taylor-Joy on Why She Fights for ‘Female Rage’ on Screen

Anya Taylor-Joy on Why She Fights for ‘Female Rage’ on Screen

Anya Taylor-Joy is opening up about why she has fought for several of her characters to express on-screen rage.

During a wide-ranging interview for a GQ cover story, the Emmy-nominated actress revealed the instances where she pushed to change an emotional scene that saw her character crying to one that invoked anger.

“I’ve developed a bit of a reputation for fighting for feminine rage, which is a strange thing, because I’m not promoting violence — but I am promoting women being seen as people,” Taylor-Joy explained. “We have reactions that are not always dainty or unmessy.”

The first time the actress advocated for “female rage” was for her feature acting debut in Robert Eggers’ The Witch. Her character Thomasin is initially meant to cry when she is dragged from the family’s farmyard and accused of being the evil presence inside the house. However, Taylor-Joy said she couldn’t produce any tears at that moment, leading her to question why she was even supposed to be crying in the scene.

“Eventually I said, ‘She’s angry; she’s fucking pissed. She’s been blamed time and time again, and she’s not doing anything. We have to stop with the crying,’” she recalled telling Eggers.

While the director approved her changes, Taylor-Joy said she took much more away from that interaction — she learned to speak up for herself on set.

“I feel so happy for her. Girl, fly, do your thing. Live deliciously, you’ve earned it. This world is not for you,” Taylor-Joy said of her character. “I love the ending of that film.”

The actress later advocated for changes in 2022’s , when her character was supposed to produce a single tear once she learned her date had intentionally brought her to the film’s restaurant to die. But she had one question about what was written in the script: “What planet are we living on?”

“I was like, ‘Let me explain to you: I am going to leap across the table and try and literally kill him with my bare hands,’” Taylor-Joy recalled, and thankfully director Mark Mylod and co-star Nicholas Hoult were open to the changes.

When Eggers and Taylor-Joy reunited for their second film together, The Northman, the director told the magazine that he was also receptive to her advice. Particularly, during a scene when her character has to discourage a man from touching her against her will.

“It was Anya’s idea for Olga to douse her hand with her own menstrual blood before slapping Fjölnir in the face,” Eggers said, noting that it ended up being a “very strong, defiant and memorable choice.”

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In her most recent project, George Miller’s Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga, Taylor-Joy also fought for things that felt right for her character. Earlier this month, the actress told The New York Times, “There’s one scream in that movie, and I am not joking when I tell you that I fought for that scream for three months.”

While Taylor-Joy understands that at the end of the day, the director has the final call, Miller told GQ that there were “Several times in the cutting room I said, ‘God, I’m so glad she did that.’”

“For all my championing of female rage, I’ve never been an angry person,” Taylor-Joy said. “For a long time the only time I ever got angry was on other people’s behalfs. I’ve always internalized this thing of ‘I’ve done something wrong. If you treat me badly, it’s because I am the problem.’ And I’m so grateful for Furiosa, because there was a real moment where I started getting angry for myself.”

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga hits theaters Friday.

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