Twenty-four year old Anya Taylor-Joy is quickly climbing the ranks in the acting world. Having begun in the horror genre, with films like Split, and then swerving into period pieces such as Emma, she’s now found herself in the powerful female lead role as Beth Harmon in the Netflix original, The Queen’s Gambit. And this power-house actress and winner of the BAFTA Rising Star Award is also just as passionate about books as the rest of us.
You may not know that Taylor-Joy is originally Spanish-speaking, and that she learned English when she moved from Buenos Aires to London when she was only six years old. Interestingly enough, her English textbooks were none other than J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, which she pored over with her uncle. Taylor-Joy describes her time of studying the English language as feeling “so lonely,” and books became not just her life-line to the English-speaking culture, but also a solace.
According to marieclaire.com, the “Order of the Phoenix is her pick of the series, which she admits to having read seven times because ‘that’s the magical wizarding number.’ Reading still serves as a kind of self-care. She just finished My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell and is currently on Burnt Sugar by Avni Doshi. Her all-time favorite book is Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie.
Ironically, her co-star on The Queen’s Gambit, Harry Melling, had played Dudley Dursley in the Harry Potter films. She describes her rival chess master as, “a gentle, beautiful human,” and explained that when she first learned of his role on Gambit, she could not help but fawn over his ties to the magical franchise as any potterhead would.
“I find a lot of warmth in reading,” says Taylor-Joy. “It’s still a place where I go when I need to recharge. I love being able to plug into another person’s mind or into another world and just experience that.”
And while she’s risen to stardom at a break-neck pace, playing twenty-one roles in the span of six years, Taylor-Joy is not ready to slow down. She will soon star alongside Chris Hemsworth and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II in the prequel to Mad Max: Fury Road, reprising the role of a young Furiosa. From horror to classics to action, there seems to be nothing that Taylor-Joy cannot do.