Aaron Taylor-Johnson began performing at age six but his breakthrough performance was in the John Lennon biopic, Nowhere Boy (2009), where he met his future wife, director Sam Taylor-Wood. He was 19 then. She was 42.
Now 26, the talented British actor has appeared in such films as Kick Ass (2010) as David “Dave” Lizewski/Kick-Ass, based on the superhero comic book of the same name by Scottish writer Mark Millar, Hideo Nakata’s Chatroom as the central character William, Albert Nobbs (2010) as Joe, Oliver Stone’s crime thriller Savages (2012) as Ben, in Joe Wright’s adaptation of Anna Karenina (2012) as the Russian aristocrat Count Vronsky, in Gareth Edwards’ monster movie Godzilla (2014), as Lt. Brody, and in Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) as Quicksilver.
Earlier, in 1999, he performed onstage in a London production of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, where he played the son of Macduff alongside Rufus Sewell, who played Macbeth. He also appeared in Arthur Miller’s All My Sons (2000), as a young Charlie Chaplin in Shanghai Knights (2003), in The Illusionist (2006) where he appeared in the early flashback scenes as Edward Norton’s character as a teenager, Eduard Abramavicz, and in The Thief Lord (2006) as Prosper.
He will next be seen in the Doug Liman-helmed war film, The Wall, which is about two American soldiers trapped by an Iraqi sniper. Taylor-Johnson appears as one of the soldiers together with John Cena.
In Tom Ford’s second film, the crime thriller Nocturnal Animals (2016), Taylor-Johnson appears as the psychopathic killer drifter Ray Marcus. His portrayal earned him a Golden Globe nod in the Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in Any Motion Picture category.
Taylor-Johnson was cast by Ford, who is a family friend, after the director had dinner with him and his wife and seeing how animated Taylor-Johnson was.
The actor talked about his director, a brilliant designer who is turning out to be equally talented in filmmaking: “Tom is beautiful, eloquent. He spoke passionately about this project. His vision was intriguing to me. He influenced me by allowing me to be free. I put all my trust in his hands. He has a beautiful eye for detail. He's specific, precise and knows exactly what he wants.”
He described his challenging role: “It was a character that I didn't instantly relate to. He's a psychopath, a serial killer. I studied serial killers and psychopaths. I didn't sleep for three months and became a creature of the night. I wanted to look and feel toxic. I drank and smoked. My skin changed color. I dropped weight. I was not approachable during that time. I'd stay in that head space. It was my job.”
Taylor-Johnson, who has two daughters with Sam – Wylda Rae, 6, and Romy Hero, 4 – is also stepfather to two daughters from his wife’s previous marriage.
Asked if he feels his age, he replied, “I don't think about age. I think about things that inspire me. I have ambition, curiosity, interests. I feel more secure and comfortable in myself than probably most 26-year-olds do.”