Anya Taylor-Joy Says Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga Is Her “Dirtiest & Bloodiest” Role Yet

Anya Taylor-Joy is no stranger to Hollywood, with her compelling performances capturing audience attention for years. Now, the award-winning actress is taking on a role very close to Australia's heart as the titular character in Furiosa, the next movie from the Mad Max Saga. Directed by Australia's own George Miller, the follow-up to the highly-acclaimed Mad Max: Fury Road — winner of six Oscar awardsFuriosa: A Mad Max Saga dives deep into the origin story of the titular character, who was first played by Charlize Theron.
When it comes to Anya Taylor-Joy, taking on the beloved character and feminist icon is a new challenge. For much of the film, Taylor-Joy's face is largely concealed, and she has to speak only with her eyes. For the award-winning actress, the role offered an entirely different set of new challenges that weren't just limited to stunt work or working in remote New South Wales.
"It's the dirtiest and the bloodiest I've ever been, which I didn't think was a thing," Taylor-Joy laughs, telling Refinery29 Australia how the film fits into her broader scope of work. "There's one moment in it where I'm wearing seven different layers of dirt. The camera lens that George [Miller] uses, I think he has a filter on it where dirt doesn't pick up. So I had to be the colour of this floor in order to be able to look dirty on screen. Oh my god, it was wild!"
Sitting next to her, co-star and Australia's sweetheart Chris Hemsworth, who transforms for the character Dr. Dementus, adds that at times, he would find Taylor-Joy in the dirt. "She would roll around in the dirt if there wasn't enough," Hemsworth jokes. "Committed!"
Taylor-Joy laughs, adding: "It was so much fun. I FaceTimed my husband one time, and he was like, 'Ah!' I was like, 'Yep, you married this!'"

"I was just carrying this feeling of like, repression, repression. Make it small, make it small. Keep it in. So when you do explode, it just felt great. I really, really enjoyed it — for myself and for her."

anya taylor-joy, on playing furiosa
Taylor-Joy is no stranger to playing gritty, dirty, and complex female characters. Previously the star of Robert Eggers' films The Northman and The Witch, the actress has also starred in multiple films that have dominated box offices, including Edgar Wright's Last Night in Soho, the highly-acclaimed Dune: Part Two (of which her appearance was kept secret!), and Mark Mylod's The Menu, amongst an increasingly growing list.
In reflecting on her past work and how it compares to her role in Furiosa, Taylor-Joy says that her character's silence was one of its biggest strengths — and challenges. "She's the most silent person that I've ever played," Taylor-Joy explains. "And I've played silent people before. But that added an intensity to everything because it felt like any choice that I was fighting for in order for her to explode in any way, it just felt so weighted."
"I was just carrying this feeling of like, repression, repression. Make it small, make it small. Keep it in," she continues. "So when you do explode, it just felt great. I really, really enjoyed it — for myself and for her [Furiosa]."
While Furiosa follows the character that audiences first fell in love with in Fury Road, they should enter their cinemas well aware that it's nothing like its predecessor. While you can still expect the same breathtaking cinematography and visual storytelling, one of the most obvious differences is that Furiosa has a much smaller cast of women, with roughly two of them having larger speaking roles (one is Taylor-Joy, the other is Australia's own Charlee Fraser, who also excels).
Despite this, the film still has the same feminist essence, as we watch Furiosa navigating the apocalyptic wasteland amidst a sea of toxic men, where women are usually seen as merely concubines. But while there are fewer women in Furiosa, Taylor-Joy says their roles are just as important — and in fact, key to the film's messaging.
"It's showing in a very intense and clear way, what it is to try and navigate your own path in a world being dominated by men who are kind of the giants," she explains. "You're trying to make your way from point A to point B and there are these huge feats that are just creating all of these crevices and she's kind of flung into that."
"But what I love about her story is she just refuses to deviate from the mission and she refuses to let anything get her down," Taylor-Joy says, before reflecting on how she — and other women — can relate to the story.
"I think that's something that every woman in the world understands," she says. "It's like, actually, if you just keep getting back up — and I'm not saying people aren't going to push you down because that's always going to happen — but if you keep getting back up, you can come out on top."
For Taylor-Joy, the idea of needing to assert herself in a man's world is something extremely close to home — or in this case, Hollywood.
"We've been taught as women that we have to be very accommodating," Taylor-Joy says, reflecting on how she asserts herself in rooms filled with men. "I personally find that really hard."
"Because I like to be helpful," she explains. "I will always be like, 'Oh, I'll take the hard job in order to give you an easier time'. But I think that can definitely be taken advantage of."
The 28-year-old goes on to explain that she needs to suppress her natural helpful instincts and assert herself more in situations. "It's important to be like, 'No, when I'm saying something, I mean it. It's not up for discussion in that kind of way'."
Her number one piece of advice for any woman looking to navigate the industry (or any male-dominated field, really) is to hold your ground and not get frustrated. "You can't be at a boiling point all the time," she says. "You have to be able to go 'Okay, that's your problem'. And I'm going to manoeuvre my way around this, but I can't take that on for you."
FURIOSA is in Australian cinemas on May 23.
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