Anya Taylor-Joy Went Off-Script While Filming The Menu To Give Nicholas Hoult A Slap In The Face

Warning: This post will contain mild spoilers for the movie "The Menu"

Mark Mylod's new film "The Menu" is about an exclusive, ultra-high-end restaurant that rests alone on a distant island. Rich patrons are boated in for an exorbitant amount of money, given a tour of the island's elaborate and near-incomprehensible food preparation facilities, and then served an hours-long multi-course meal constructed by the stern and distant celebrity chef Julian Slowik (Ralph Fiennes). Chef Julian's staff is slavishly devoted to him and to his strange, conceptual meal-making ethos; it is stated that Julian likes to prepare meals that make his diners acknowledge the way lass and food are inextricably linked. 

One of the characters in "The Menu" is Tyler (Nicholas Hoult), a sniveling foodie fanboy who seems to be a little bit too impressed by everything Chef Julian says and does. Tyler was meant to bring a date on his excursion to Chef Julian's island, but had to find a new date at the last minute when his original companion dropped out. His replacement was a young woman named Margot (Anya Taylor-Joy) who is most definitely unimpressed with Tyler's obsessions and with the world of upper-upper-class dining in general. 

The plot twist is that Chef Julian has, in falling so far down the rabbit hole of conceptual dining, created a meal/theater experience meant to kill everyone on the island, himself included. This particular menu will incorporate confessional moments for his diners — they will be confronted with their sins and transgressions — and moments where they will be hunted for sport. There is no cannibalism in "The Menu," but several people will die for the sake of the art of cooking.

The slap

An additional twist is that Tyler seems to have known that he was being invited to a bloodbath from the start. His invitation to Chef Julian's island stated plainly that everyone would die. Tyler, however — being such a pathetic character wanted to bring a date regardless, as he wanted to show off his limited, fanboy knowledge of food to someone. He didn't bother to share with Margot exactly what she was getting into. He knew that she was doomed. Eventually, after blood had already been shed and the film's diners were eating in abject fear, Chef Julian revealed to Margot what Tyler had done. Margot, in that moment, slaps Tyler across the face. 

The slap, it turns out, was not scripted. According to a recent video interview with BBC 1, Margot was originally written to sit and weep silently at the revelation of her doom. Taylor-Joy felt that that was not a natural reaction, and came up with an alternate, more emotionally honest version of the scene that suited her, and her co-stars, much better. When interviewer Ali Plumb asked Taylor-Joy and Hoult about the slap, Hoult immediately chimed in to praise his co-star's idea, as he felt his character was a horrible person who deserved it. For Taylor-Joy, it went to a frustrating trend she saw too often in movies, saying:

"I have a thing about feminine rage. Which people think for some reason — and this is no disrespect to any writer — I get a lot of, like, 'men doing really terrible things' and women sitting silently while one tear slowly falls. And I'm like, "Oh no no no no no. We get mad, and angry." 

She was right

Taylor-Joy is, of course, quite right. Slapping Tyler would not only be emotionally true to her character, but a more believable response from almost anyone. Tyler sentenced her to death by high-end meal without telling her anything, all for a fanboyish need to impress a celebrity. The actress brought her idea to Mylod, and they workshopped her vision of the scene. 

"And I remember pulling Mark aside and saying, 'I'm really sorry, but the only way to play this truthfully is for me to attack him.' And he was like, 'Oh, you mean like this?' And I was like 'No no no. Like I'm gonna... [clawing gesture]. And luckily everyone liked it, and Nick was game." 

Hoult then declares that he didn't like it one bit. Whether or not his character deserved it, Hoult did have to be slapped very hard in the face. He was, however, as Taylor-Joy declared, quite game. 

By the end of "The Menu," it will be Margot who confronts Chef Julian's resolve and question his philosophies about meal preparation. The actual ending of the film shall remain a surprise, but one can see in the slap scene — in that single moment — that Margot transforms into the film's protagonist in earnest. Taylor-Joy had the right idea.