Anya Taylor-Joy Says She Fights for Depictions of Female Rage: "I Am Promoting Women Being Seen as People"

"We have reactions that are not always dainty or unmessy."

Anya Taylor-Joy wearing archival Paco Rabanne to the 'Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga' premiere in Sydney, Australia May 2024
(Image credit: Getty Images)

From her breakout role in The Witch to The Queen's Gambit to the fierce, titular rebel in the new release Furiosa, Anya Taylor-Joy has built a career playing characters she describes as having a sense of "defiance." In a new British GQ cover story, Taylor-Joy opened up about becoming a proponent for depicting "feminine rage" on screen—making suggestions to directors that feel more true to her characters.

"I've developed a bit of a reputation for fighting for feminine rage, which is a strange thing, because I’m not promoting violence—but I am promoting women being seen as people. We have reactions that are not always dainty or unmessy," the actress told the outlet.

She added, "What I’m coming to understand is: as long as you’re not causing anyone else harm, you have to stand your ground."

anya taylor joy as thomasin in the witch

Anya Taylor-Joy in The Witch.

(Image credit: A24)

The Golden Globe winner spoke candidly about how long she's advocated for women to have no-holds-barred reactions on screen. She explained that it began while filming her first lead role in a feature in Robert Eggers' 2015 modern classic horror movie The Witch. Taylor-Joy was directed to cry in a scene where her character Thomasin, accused of being a witch terrorizing her family in colonial-era New England, is dragged outside her home.

She told British QQ, "Eventually I said, ‘She’s angry; she’s f--king pissed. She’s been blamed time and time again, and she’s not doing anything. We have to stop with the crying."

Eggers listened, and the star was more than pleased with the film's outcome, which sees Thomasin embracing the supernatural—or as another character says, living "deliciously." Taylor-Joy added, "I feel so happy for her. Girl, fly, do your thing. Live deliciously, you’ve earned it. This world is not for you ... I love the ending of that film."

While collaborating with Eggers again on 2022's The Northman, Taylor-Joy also had suggestions about how her character Olga would respond to a man touching her without consent. Eggers told British GQ that she made a "very strong, defiant, and memorable choice," saying, "It was Anya’s idea for Olga to douse her hand with her own menstrual blood before slapping Fjölnir in the face."

anya taylor joy in the menu

Anya Taylor-Joy in The Menu.

(Image credit: Searchlight Pictures)

Taylor-Joy also reflected on a scene in the 2022 thriller The Menu in which she disagreed completely with what was written in the screenplay for how her character would respond when she found out her date (played by Nicholas Hoult) had brought her somewhere, knowing they would die. She was supposed to shed a single tear, but director Mark Mylod and her costar agreed to let her follow her instincts.

"What planet are we living on?" she said. "I was like, ‘Let me explain to you: I am going to leap across the table and try and literally kill him with my bare hands."

anya taylor joy in furiosa

Anya Taylor-Joy in Furiosa.

(Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

On Furiosa, the highly anticipated prequel of legendary director George Miller's Mad Max franchise (out in cinemas on May 24), Taylor-Joy got even more in touch with her defiance.

"For all my championing of female rage, I’ve never been an angry person," she told British GQ. "For a long time the only time I ever got angry was on other people’s behalfs. I’ve always internalized this thing of 'I've done something wrong. If you treat me badly, it's because I am the problem.'"

The Emmy-nominated star continued, "And I'm so grateful for Furiosa, because there was a real moment where I started getting angry for myself. My husband was like, 'I’ve never heard you be like this.' I was like, 'I'm glad! I'm glad that I'm angry!' If someone steps on me now I’m like, 'Hey, f--k you!' That makes me feel good."

Sadie Bell
Senior Culture Editor

Sadie Bell is the Senior Culture Editor at Marie Claire, where she edits, writes, and helps to ideate stories across movies, TV, books, and music, from interviews with talent to pop culture features and trend stories. She has a passion for uplifting rising stars, and a special interest in cult-classic movies, emerging arts scenes, and music. She has over eight years of experience covering pop culture and her byline has appeared in Billboard, Interview Magazine, NYLON, PEOPLE, Rolling Stone, Thrillist and other outlets.