Anya Taylor-Joy Still Can’t Make Sense of What She Went Through

There’s nothing normal about making a “Mad Max” movie, and Anya Taylor-Joy knew that when she signed on to star in “Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga,” the newest film in George Miller’s long-running action series.

“I wanted to be changed,” she said. “I wanted to be put in a situation in extremis where I would have no choice but to grow. And I got it.”

Trials by fire don’t burn much hotter than the conflagration that consumed “Mad Max: Fury Road” (2015), the most recent film in the franchise, which was one of the most infamously difficult productions in Hollywood history. In the works for nearly two decades, the movie was shut down several times by studio executives, who feared they were producing a big-budget boondoggle. And the constant clashes between Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron, two of its stars, in the remote Namibian desert required outside intervention.

Despite all of those headwinds, “Fury Road” was hailed upon its release as one of the greatest action films ever made; it would go on to win six Oscars and net a spot on many critics’ best-of-the-decade lists. Its success paved the way for the prequel “Furiosa,” in theaters May 24, which casts the 28-year-old Taylor-Joy as a younger version of Theron’s iconic warrior woman.

Plucked from her idyllic home by bandits, Furiosa grows up shuttled between two captors, the gabby psychopath Dementus (Chris Hemsworth) and the hulking warlord Immortan Joe (Lachy Hulme). Furiosa faces constant danger on both sides, and she strives to survive long enough to escape, keen to exact revenge on those who have taken everything from her.

Though Theron still casts a long shadow, Taylor-Joy stakes her claim on the role with a formidable ferocity: Under the grease that Furiosa smears on her face like war paint, the actress’s distinctive wide-set eyes blaze bright with righteous anger. To make Furiosa her own, she allowed herself to be put through an emotional and physical wringer for six and a half months. How did she feel in late 2022, when she finally wrapped the arduous production?

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