OK half my obsession: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, married to Sam Taylor-Johnson, and currently beginning promotion for the upcoming Anna Karenina in which he plays Vronsky who he hilarious calls a “typical blonde”. In a new interview with The Observer, Aaron says of his role:
"I'm kind of like the typical blond in the movie. It's a golden age, and I'm this dashing blond young officer in a white uniform. It's a study in privilege, really. That was all Joe's (the director) vision, and I played around with it a bit, but there wasn't much of a character arc. It's her journey. You don't really need anyone else's. I'm really there as an actor to serve the director and the script."
How about that? For once an actor actually downplaying his role as opposed to the other way around. If this were Jessica Biel she’d tell you that the name of the book should have been called Vronsky instead of AK.
Taylor-Johnson’s description of his part is rather insightful -- comparatively, at least among his actor peers, he doesn’t appear to have a large ego. Not necessarily because he’s humble but because... he may not have had a chance to grow one. He is still only 22. And since he’s been accompanied by Sam Taylor-Johnson the last few years, that may have something to do with it too. Because it’s never been the age difference that’s so intriguing. What’s intriguing about the Taylor-Johnsons is that when they fell in love, she was fully formed in her 40s and he, at 18, would have had no idea who he was, no matter how hard they try to convince us that he’s an “old soul”.
In other words, if we want to get even more eye-rolly about it, Aaron was a blank canvas for Sam, the artist. He tells The Observer that he doesn’t go home anymore. That he has no friends from where he grew up. That his world was constructed from her world, and it’s the only adult world he’s ever known:
“I haven't been back (to my home town) in about six years. I still see it as a place I wanted to escape from. I get on fine with my mum and dad, but if they want to see the grandchildren, they come to me... I haven't got any friends from where I grew up, but that's not to do with fame. I moved on from there years ago. I have good friends now, both from Sam's world and my world. We're a close-knit family with a close-knit circle of friends. That's the way it is and it's just fine."
Later, when asked about Johnnie Shand Kydd, the friend and photographer he requested to shoot him for the article, whom he met through Sam, Aaron explains:
"Well, all her good friends have become my friends, but I don't come from a world where art was a big thing. I never really knew that world until I met her."
He never really knew any world until he met her, non?
One way to do it in a relationship is to have both people bring equal parts of themselves into it and, in theory, eventually everyone, all of it, develops together. Can we call that idealistic? How many of us have been failed by love, ultimately because that person can’t change?
Maybe Sam’s way is the solution. You don’t have to change anything. What you do instead is you CREATE. You create the perfect mate. You start with a Nowhere Boy who clearly has no attachment to his origins and is ready to become whatever you show him he can be. Does that minimise the chance of disappointment? I don’t know. But I’m totally paying attention. And right now, it seems to be working for her. Right now, she drew a world around him and he’s guarding it endearingly closely:
"(All the attention) it shaped and changed our world quite quickly, because we were both strong and stayed by each other's side. We didn't listen to publicists who said things like: 'If you go out to events, make sure you take separate cars. Don't be seen together.' All that crap. I won't mention any names, but further up the line you see bigger actors playing those sorts of games. We never wanted to. We did what we felt was right."
But this is SO fascinating, isn’t it? And is it the answer to the man’s practice of acquiring a young trophy wife? Stereotypically the requirements there seem to be aesthetic as opposed to cerebral. In harsher terms, you could say that Sam’s engineered a partner who, while obviously physically stimulating, is learning how to satisfy her in other ways too. He says the right things because he’s been taught to feel the right way. And his approach to love has been shaped by how a female would respond to receiving it. This goes back to my earlier point about ego. Says Aaron:
“We complement each other, for sure, both in our work and on an everyday level. She pushes and inspires me, and I hope I do the same for her. Right now it's more about what Sam's doing next. There is a feature being developed with a lot of more of her imprint on it. You get to a point and you want to try something new. That's what life is all about: trying new things and having fun. (Work with my wife) it's all I want to do, really."
Click here to read the Aaron Taylor-Johnson profile.