Anya Taylor-Joy Considered Quitting Acting Before 'The Queen's Gambit'

"The same way as Beth needed chess, I needed acting."

Before she earned herself a Golden Globe Award and became synonymous with giving chess a bit of sex appeal, Anya Taylor-Joy said that she considered quitting acting altogether. In a new interview with Elle, she said that she wanted to find something that made her feel "valued and appreciated" and "have something to contribute."

Taylor-Joy described some of the bullying that she went through growing up and explained that she always felt like she didn't quite fit in when she moved to England from Argentina as a child.

"It just really pushed me. Much the same way as Beth needed chess, I needed acting," she said. "I needed to believe in a place where I could be valued and appreciated, and actually have something to contribute rather than constantly feeling like, 'What is wrong with me, and why do I not fit in?'"

Anya Taylor-Joy
NBC / Contributor

Taylor-Joy said that she confided in a co-star, saying that she was feeling "really broken and frightened" after she'd finished two very emotional projects. It was then, she said, that she considered giving up. But her Emma co-star encouraged her to keep on working, something that Taylor-Joy says was a turning point for her professionally and personally.

"I had been working back to back — just before Emma, I'd done two projects at the same time, and I was going through some emotional relationship stuff. So at the beginning of 2019, I was just really broken and frightened of everything, and Mia [Goth] and I were driving back from rehearsal," she added. "I turned to her and said, 'I think I'm going to quit acting. I don't think I can do this.' And I've never seen Mia look so worried in my life. She was like, 'But ... that's what you do. You can't not ... what are you talking about?' I was like, 'I think I need to back out now and just let it be and try to take care of my heart.' And she was like, 'No, that would be really bad. You can't not have the thing that is your oxygen.' I'm really glad she said that."

Earlier this year, Taylor-Joy told Entertainment Tonight that she's not opposed to coming back to Beth Harmon for a second season of The Queen's Gambit — although the show's creators had no intention of keeping the story going.

"Maybe. Not to disappoint anybody, but we just never thought about it. It was always a sapling to tree transition. You see her grow, you leave her in a good place. So we were genuinely surprised when people were like, 'Where's season 2?'" she said. "That being said, I adore the entire team that made it and I would jump at the chance to work with them again."

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