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How The Northman Prepared Anya Taylor-Joy For Furiosa Mad Max Prequel

Anya Taylor-Joy had some thoughts on her starring role in Furiosa, based on the extreme conditions faced while filming Viking epic The Northman.

Anya Taylor-Joy’s experiences filming The Northman prepared her for her next role in the Mad Max spinoff FuriosaThe Northman sees Taylor-Joy reuniting with The Witch writer-director Robert Eggers to tell the brutal and epic tale of Amleth, a Viking prince played by Alexander Skarsgård, on a quest to avenge the murder of his father. Taylor-Joy plays Olga of the Birch Forest, a love interest to Amleth, whose own quest for revenge mirrors his.

Eggers is known for his exacting attention to detail. In The Witch, everything is period-accurate, from the early modern English the characters speak, to the boning in the women’s corsets, to the thatching on the cottage’s roof. Eggers even flew a white pine tree to set to make the hemlock forest of Ontario look more like New England. The Northman is no different. Steeped in mysticism and folklore, it was filmed under extreme conditions in Ireland and Iceland, eschewing green screens for location filming. They contended with endless mud and ice, howling winds on the tops of freezing mountains, and enacting fight choreography on an active volcano.  Taylor-Joy has previously gone on record about how giddy the grueling conditions made her.

Related: Furiosa’s Huge Fury Road Difference Is Good (It Can’t Compete With It)

In a recent interview with Total Film (via GamesRadar), Taylor-Joy and Skarsgård talk about how it’s a miracle any of them survived the shoot. At one point, Taylor-Joy’s shoes froze into the mud, and Skarsgård spent four days naked on a volcano filming the same fight scene. But neither complained much during the process, even if the long days resulted in the completion of only a single shot because they believed so much in the story. The shoot also led to some reflection on Taylor-Joy’s part about her upcoming role in Furiosa. She said:

“I remember, there was a very specific moment where I was looking out at all of the green of Ireland, if you’ve ever been lucky enough to visit, it’s a very specific green. And I just remember looking and thinking, ‘I’m not going to see green, or snow.’ It will be a vista this impressive, but it will be entirely the opposite of this wet, fertile place. I’m just like, ‘Wow, okay, I’m really going to experience both extremes this year.’ But I’m so excited about it. Both filmmakers have a real ambition to bring fascinating images to audiences. The people that they attract to those experiences are people that share that vision so much that you’re kind of ready to do anything to make it come true. Right?”

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The long in the works prequel to 2015’s Mad Max: Fury Road has had a bumpy road to the screen. Financial disputes between director George Miller’s production company and Warner Brothers and the shutdown from the Covid pandemic have both delayed the picture, which is now finally slated to premiere in 2024. Taylor-Joy’s been prepping for Furiosa by practicing her driving skills, so she can do as many of the film’s car stunts herself as she can since she is stepping in Charlize Theron’s boots as the titular War Rig operator.

Facing adversity can breed strength of character, something the immensely talented Taylor-Joy believes. Film sets can already be endurance tests for cast and crew. 14-16 hour workdays are not uncommon, sometimes even lasting longer, with a short turnaround. Not to mention night shoots or filming in rugged environments (such as the tops of mountains) can take a physical toll on the body and test a person’s mental strength, not to mention wreak absolute havoc on their sleep schedule. But by keeping her head high and staying as invested in the process as Taylor-Joy has, the actress has proven that she’s game for these types of physically and mentally demanding roles. It certainly helps to have directors like those of The Northman and Furiosa behind the wheel, as it’s always easier to invest passionately in a project when there’s a true vision guiding it.

Next: Why The Northman Will Be Bigger Than The Lighthouse (And The Witch)

Source: Total Film (via GamesRadar)

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