Anya Taylor-Joy Was Actually Freezing In Mud For One Northman Scene

Shooting a Viking epic saga with the goal of being as historically accurate as possible sure is a daunting task. Robert Eggers' "The Northman" had its fair share of challenges when it came to shooting amidst harsh, unforgivable climates, and Alexander Skarsgård, who plays Prince Amleth, previously talked about how intense certain action scenes turned out to be.

Anya Taylor-Joy plays Slavic sorceress Olga, whose village is raided by a party of Viking berserkers (the exiled Prince Amleth among them). After being captured as a slave, Olga is shipped to Iceland to work on a sheep farm belonging to Amleth's treacherous uncle, Fjölnir. Needless to say, live as one of Fjölnir's slaves involves a great deal of hard labor and poor conditions — and while some of that was achieved through movie magic, the outdoor locations and inclement weather were very real. 

Taylor-Joy told Variety that at one point she had to film while standing in mud that had frozen as a result of the harsh Northern Ireland climate. The actress (who also starred in Eggers' film "The Witch," and is no stranger to tough shoots) said that "The Northman" tested her resilience:

"I do not complain ever really. There was one day when the mud came up to about my knees and it had frozen. I essentially squeaked out a 'Please can we roll?' and Robert [Eggers] was like, 'Oh, Anya is asking if we can roll, we should roll.' But we did it, it's in the movie and it looks great."

Despite the hardships that accompanied crafting this Viking revenge saga, everyone involved with "The Northman" — from co-writer Sjón, to the actors, to Eggers himself — pushed themselves to being Amleth's story to life as authentically as possible.

An 'infuriatingly joyful' experience

Taylor-Joy shines in almost any role she assumes — be it undergoing an emotional transformation for Thomasin's arc in "The Witch," or her dynamic portrayal of chess prodigy Beth Harmon in "The Queen's Gambit." As "The Northman" embraces folklore elements, savage brutality, and the visceral theme of revenge, everyone in the cast understood that the conditions of filming would be brutal for the most part. Explaining the scenes that involved her standing barefoot in mud or ice-cold ocean water, Taylor-Joy described the experience as "infuriatingly joyful" despite the challenging nature of the scenes (via British Vogue):

"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,'" Taylor-Joy recalled. "I was [freezing] and if it didn't look freezing [on-camera], I would have been pissed."

"The Northman" paints a brutal picture of a man reclaiming what was taken away from him as a child. After witnessing the murder of his father (Ethan Hawke) at the hands of his uncle Fjölnir (Claes Bang), Amleth spends his existence fueled by the fire of avenging his father, saving his mother (Nicole Kidman), and killing his uncle. But after arriving in Iceland, his quest for revenge becomes a little more complicated — especially as his relationship with Olga creates new priorities that tempt him towards choosing life instead of death.

"The Northman" is currently playing in theaters.