Anya Taylor-Joy on Why She Opted to Sing A Cappella in ‘Last Night in Soho’: “It Adds Vulnerability”

The Hollywood Reporter
The Hollywood Reporter

Although Anya Taylor-Joy sang a few bars in Emma and during the live-action opening of the animated Playmobil: The Movie , the actress says filmmaker Edgar Wright offered her the part of aspiring singer Sandie in his Last Night in Soho before confirming with his own ears that she could carry a tune.

“The first time he properly heard me sing was when we were doing the scene, and he was so gracious because he understands how I feel about characters,” explained the 25-year-old on the red carpet at the film’s Monday night premiere on a rainy night in L.A. The scene she refers to finds her standing on center stage singing a version of Petula Clark’s “Downtown” during an audition in front of a club owner and a possible manager (or nefarious character?) in Matt Smith’s Jack. Taylor-Joy’s a cappella version impresses just as it did when the actress debuted in a full version released last week.

Taylor-Joy credits Wright, a noted music aficionado who carefully crafts the sound and songs featured in each of his films, for being supportive throughout the process. “I just thought from an audience point of view hearing somebody bear their soul a cappella in a slower way, it adds vulnerability that makes [the audience] see her a bit more, and that way you care more about her as the film progresses,” she continued. “But then I felt really touched because after I sang the song, [Edgar] loved it and said, ‘We’re getting you to the studio, and we’re recording three different versions, and you’re also going to sing ‘ You’re My World .’ I was, like, ‘Wow, let’s go and do it!’ I’m endlessly grateful for the support from someone who knows and loves music so much.”

Wright admits he had a hunch that Taylor-Joy could sing but didn’t know “how well” until they got to set to film. The psychological thriller follows a young fashion student (Thomasin McKenzie) haunted by dreams as she falls into a swinging 1960s London where Sandie’s glamorous surroundings may not be what they appear.

“That was something quite extraordinary. When [film composer] Steven Price did the demos for ‘Downtown,’ the cover, we were really pleased and wowed by her amazing voice. Then, funny enough, the song is featured in the film, and then it came out in the trailer, so when people heard it, they kept asking, ‘Are you going to release that as a single?’ But we had recorded only 90 seconds of it. I asked Steven if we should record the rest of it, and Anya was up for it, as well. So the single, the video, the whole thing was recorded in the last couple of months.”

It’s a coup Taylor-Joy was also able to fit the recording into her packed schedule. Coming off the global success (and Emmy nomination) for Netflix’s The Queen’s Gambit , the actress has been among the most in-demand talents in town. After Wright’s Soho, she next stars in Robert Eggers’ The Northman , an untitled David O. Russell project, Mark Mylod’s The Menu , and George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road prequel Furiosa.

She’s also just been announced as the newest global ambassador for women’s fashion and makeup at Dior, an appointment that follows a series of head-turning looks from Taylor-Joy while wearing designs by the luxury fashion house’s Maria Grazia Chiuri. Asked why she made the arrangement official , Taylor-Joy complimented Dior for its legacy and how it supports actresses, as it’s done with prior long-term deals with such stars as Jennifer Lawrence, Charlize Theron and Natalie Portman.

“There’s something about the House of Dior that, to me, evokes both a modern sensibility whilst also being incredibly classic,” she praised, while draped in a Dior Haute Couture Fall-Winter 2021-2022 long low-cut dress with herringbone pleating, in antiqued gold lamé and accessorized by a statement necklace and ring from the Tiffany & Co. 2021 Blue Book collection. “And what I’ve always loved about them is that they stick by their actresses. They really stand by them, and I was interested in formulating a very long-lasting and fruitful [collaboration].”

She went on to say that Dior has always been “so gracious” while collaborating on custom designs as they did for her recent Emmys look (seen below), a pale yellow silk satin dress with opera coat. “They made my dream dress, and that is unheard of in terms of kindness,” she said. “I was a girl who had a vision for a dress, and they made my dream come true. I’m so grateful.”

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