Sam and Aaron Taylor-Johnson, aka My Obsession, were in Paris for the Givenchy presentation this weekend at Paris Fashion Week. Aaron is the face of Givenchy for men and Sam directed his fragrance ad last year. I’ve not yet written about interviewing them at TIFF. Let’s do that now.
They were in Toronto for A Million Little Pieces, adapted from James Frey’s book. Sam and Aaron co-wrote the screenplay, Sam directed, and Aaron plays James. They arrived at the premiere together but did red carpet interviews separately. I interviewed Sam first. Right away, when you meet her, you can feel how nice she is, how kind. True kindness is not normal on a red carpet. Impatience? Yes. Barely concealed contempt? That too. If you’re lucky they tolerate you. Sometimes they’re neutral. When they’re neutral, you often mistake it for kindness. Then, hours later, you realise how celebrities have conditioned you to accept a form of lowered humanity.
Sam Taylor-Johnson, however, radiates genuine warmth. She got emotional with me when we talked about the magnitude of the night – that her film was being screened at the Ryerson, at TIFF, for the first time, in front of an audience of cinephiles, and what that meant to her. She also talked about what it was like working with Aaron again in this capacity, a decade after Nowhere Boy, which is when they met and fell in love. It wasn’t gushy, it wasn’t, like, over-the-top affection, because they’re British, first of all, but also because it’s comfortable. They’ve been together this long. It’s not new and adolescent, their relationship. Which is why when you’re in its presence, it feels robust. There’s no sense of fragility here.
As for Aaron, while I was talking to him on the red carpet, he was mostly just looking over at his wife. Not with hot lust or anything but it was more like… as corny as this sounds… they’re always connected, tethered. But also not in a co-dependent way either? It’s hard to explain. I interviewed Aaron two years ago, also on the red carpet, also at TIFF, at the premiere of Tom Ford’s Nocturnal Animals. Sam wasn’t there that night. And it’s not like he was any more pleasant or not pleasant. It’s not like he was lost without her. Or that he’s better with her. Just that you can feel from him, from both of them really, that they prefer it when they’re together. And when you see them together, you get it, you really get it, that whatever it is between them is deeply real. When you talk to them together, as I did the next day at the junket, this is even more obvious.
They are sensitive, thoughtful people. Much more sensitive, maybe, than I can handle. This is why my marriage has worked so far – because both Jacek and I are pretty coarse, naturally. We share similarly dull nerve endings. Other people are much more responsive where their feelings are concerned. Sam and Aaron seem like that to me. Like part of why they work, I think, is because they receive the world in the same way. Relationship experts call this the “love language”. Talking to Sam and Aaron, it’s clear, at least to me, that they share the same love language. They may have developed their own love language. We started the interview about forgiveness, because I told them that one of my takeaways from the film was that it was about forgiveness and how hard it is to forgive yourself. They both seemed rather moved to be discussing how that kind of pain can colour your interactions, how it can inflict even more damage on yourself and in your relationships. What I’m trying to tell you is that the version of them – vulnerable and gentle – that we’ve seen from their public appearances and through what they’ve shared on social media appears to be true to or at least close to the actual. Everyone I’ve ever talked to who has spent time with them, and everyone who was around them at TIFF, has the same observation – that they are really lovely to be around, that they are lovely around each other, that they are never the assholes in the room. It was such a relief to see it firsthand.
Also? Christ, he is so f-cking hot.