Anya Taylor-Joy Loved The Misery Of Making The Northman

We know when director Robert Eggers sets out to make a movie, he doesn't mess around. With "The Witch" and "The Lighthouse," he put as much focus on the setting as he did the actors. This isn't a director who sits comfortably on a soundstage shooting everything against greenscreen and hoping audiences won't notice a difference.

That works for many filmmakers, don't get me wrong, and making a stage-bound movie is still hard work no matter how you slice it, but being on location has an extra added layer of challenge. The trade-off, though, is an enhanced experience. It's easier to achieve authenticity in all facets of filmmaking. Cinematography, lighting, and acting jump to mind.

When it comes to Eggers' latest, "The Northman," which is set in 10th century Iceland, the actors had to know they weren't signing up to be comfortable. In fact, in a recent profile in Vogue, co-star Anya Taylor-Joy was ecstatic to be filming out in nature, even shackled, wet, and wearing little more than rags, exposed to the elements that were even making the stunt guys shiver. 

"I looked insane. So infuriatingly joyful. The stunt guys would say, 'Can we get out of the water now?' And I was like, 'This is amazing. Nature! We're outside! We get to make art.'"

Authentically uncomfortable!

That's not to say Ms. Taylor-Joy couldn't feel the cold. When Vogue's Olivia Marks told her that she herself felt chilled to the bone just watching Taylor-Joy in the film, the actress responded "Good! Because I was and if it didn't look freezing I would have been pissed!"

The broader point is that Anya Taylor-Joy loves working and making art so much that when the chance to do that work in nature comes up, she relishes it. 

While the profile doesn't go into why beyond Ms. Taylor-Joy's love of the work, it's a safe bet that her job is a little easier when she doesn't have to pretend to be cold. She can be in the moment. That's that authenticity piece of the puzzle I mentioned earlier, an ambition most performers strive for in their work and one that is aided greatly by filming on location.

Anya Taylor-Joy's previous experience with Eggers, "The Witch," is similarly authentic. You can feel the cold and isolation and grime, and that all plays into the off-putting tone that the film is still remembered for. 

"The Northman" isn't a horror movie (at least I don't think it is), but even from the trailer you can see the difference shooting in a real place can make in the feel of a film. 

"The Northman" hits screens on April 22, 2022.