Anya Taylor-Joy has revealed that she originally requested to play the mermaid in nautical horror The Lighthouse.
The actor has worked with director Robert Eggers on two feature films, his directorial debut The Witch and The Northman opposite Alexander Skarsgård. While she didn’t make an appearance in his second film The Lighthouse, it wasn’t through a lack of trying.
Speaking to NME, she revealed how she asked Eggers for a role in the film starring Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson.
“I felt very lucky that Rob [Eggers] and I love each other so much and he wanted me to come along on this journey,” Taylor-Joy said about joining The Northman.
“I was jumping at it because when he first called me and was like, ‘Hey I’m making The Lighthouse and there’s no role for you. There’s a mermaid…” I was like, ‘I can be the mermaid!’ He was like, ‘You really should not be this particular mermaid, Anya.’ I was like, ‘I can be the seagull, I can just be in the background.’”
The Lighthouse follows two lighthouse keepers who slowly descend into madness when a storm leaves them stranded on a remote island. In one explicit scene, Pattinson’s character Thomas Howard is seen fantasising about having sex with a mermaid (played by Valeriia Karaman) while masturbating in a shed. Later scenes involve nudity and adult-rated content.
In her latest collaboration with Eggers, The Northman, Taylor-Joy plays sorceress Olga. The film follows a young Viking prince called Amleth (Skarsgård) on his quest to avenge his father’s murder. On the way he meets Olga, and they begin a romantic relationship.
“I think it was very important that even though Rob deals with archetypes, any person that’s surviving in this world is pretty fierce,” said Taylor-Joy of her character. “Something that I really love about Olga and this relationship is: I don’t think there’s ever a moment where Amleth looks at her and thinks that because of her size she is not an equal and she does not have something she can offer him.
“We talked a lot about in the beginning the kind of give and take of how we were helping each other throughout the film so you could believe that bond and you could invest in it so the end has a really big payoff. I love that they both play to each other’s strengths and that they respect it, they’re both very curious about each other and really respect that.”
Taylor-Joy is scheduled to reunite with Eggers on his forthcoming Nosferatu remake, although the director recently cast doubt on the project coming to fruition anytime soon, saying it had “fallen apart twice” in an interview with IndieWire.
The Northman is released in UK cinemas on April 15.