'Emma' star Anya Taylor-Joy says she learned to speak English by reading Harry Potter books

"It's complicated," the "Emma" star told ABC News in a recent interview.

February 21, 2020, 4:34 PM

Anya Taylor-Joy's unique background may have set the pace early on for her career.

"It's complicated," the "Emma" star told ABC News in a recent interview. Taylor-Joy was born in Miami, raised in Argentina and then moved to London. She said it was there at a young age that she realized it would be beneficial for her to learn to speak English.

"I was very lonely," Taylor-Joy said in an appearance on "Popcorn with Peter Travers. "So I learned English. I needed to make friends. So I actually learned to speak English by reading the Harry Potter books."

Taylor-Joy said she then started watching kids classics and knew she wanted to be an actor. She's now starring in the big-screen adaptation of Jane Austen's novel Emma.

Mia Goth and Anya Taylor-Joy in a scene from the 2020 film, "Emma."
Focus Features

"There had been this thing about female characters being made very likable and very easy to like," Taylor-Joy, 23, told Travers. "And the thing that I found most delicious about Emma was, I wanted the audience in watching her journey to have moments when they wanted to leap into the screen and shake her because she's being such a brat. But also when you finally get to her redemption, when she starts learning that people are not toys, I wanted them to really feel something for her."

Download the new "Popcorn With Peter Travers" podcasts on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Tunein, Google Play Music and Stitcher.

The interpretation of the film is as Austen wrote it, set in 1815. But Taylor-Joy thinks moviegoers will find many similarities to modern-day life.

"I think Jane Austen is a brilliant satirist," she said. "And she has created in her dissection of this small town, a situation which very easily lends itself to a high school, a working office. And something that I really love is that people are people, no matter where you go and no matter what century you're in. The rules change but the human heart and the human emotions, they stay the same. And so in our version of Emma we wanted to show everybody that these are flesh and blood human beings that are hot messes 99% of the time."

Anya Taylor-Joy appears on "Popcorn with Peter Travers" at ABC News studios, Feb. 17, 2020, in New York.
Jeff Swartz/ABC News

"Emma" can be seen in theaters everywhere.

Be sure to watch the full interview with Peter Travers and Anya Taylor-Joy in the video above.

Related Topics