HFPA in Conversation: Aaron Taylor-Johnson Finds Hope in a Dark Role
After ten years, Sam and Aaron Taylor-Johnson have collaborated again. The couple met while working on the John Lennon biopic Nowhere Boy, and after that Aaron went on to work on Kick-Ass, Albert Nobbs, Savages, Anna Karenina, Avengers: Age of Ultron, and Nocturnal Animals – from which he won the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor. Now he is portraying the drug-addicted James Frey in A Million Little Pieces, which he also co-wrote that with his wife. “I think it is fundamentally a story about an addict who is putting himself and his life back together again. And he is quite an introvert, and he needs the support of a community. He finds that community at a treatment center and it becomes his family. It is also really a story of hope and redemption,” Taylor-Johnson told HFPA journalist Scott Orlin.
He had seen many movies about addiction. “They can be pretty hard-hitting and relentless but this just had a very beautiful silver lining and a very relatable empathetic journey.”
He spent 18 months with James Frey, whose life the story is loosely based on. “We were on this little road trip and went back to a facility that he hadn’t been in twenty years. It was incredibly emotional. We met some of the counselors that were also there in ’93. It was all very private but some people were happy to share.”
While filming, he tries to stay in character. “I draw upon experiences and as an actor, I think you should have a toolbox hidden in you that has experienced or seen these things through other people and you go to those places, you unlock those places. And it is dark and it is tough and that’s what I love about acting. I have to go to the furthest corners of my soul and try and conjure them up and they are not always pleasant. And I hope that I just do the best that I can and do them justice.”
How was it being directed by his wife? “The moment I get the job I start slowly shedding who I am and start becoming this other thing. She is kind of used to the way that I try and attack my roles. But the process of working together was a dream, it is beautiful and I’d love nothing more than to continue making films together because I think we complement each other and we challenge each other. I think she is a brilliant director because she has this innate ability to create a safe environment.”
Listen to the podcast and hear how he and his wife Sam Taylor-Johnson got the book rights to A Million Little Pieces Nocturnal AnimalsJohn David Washington in Christopher Nolan’s new movie; and what kind of dad he is.