The Menu’s Anya Taylor-Joy Celebrates The ‘Gift’ Of Facing Off Against Voldemort Himself, Ralph Fiennes

It’s a good time to be a horror fan. The genre has been thriving for years now, and one of the most hotly anticipated upcoming horror movies this year has been Mark Mylod’s The Menu. The new dark comedy features an outstanding ensemble cast, lead by The Queen’s Gambit star Anya Taylor-Joy. And she recently spoke to CinemaBlend about the “gift” of facing off against Voldemort himself, actor Ralph Fiennes.

Anya Taylor-Joy has become a bit of a scream queen over the years, thanks to her performances in flicks like The Witch, Split, as well as horror-leaning projects like Last Night in Soho and The New Mutants. She’s returned to the genre with The Menu, which sees her facing off against the great Ralph Fiennes. As you can see in the video above, I had the privilege of speaking with the movie’s cast ahead of its wide release, where I asked Taylor-Joy what it was like sharing so many scenes with the Harry Potter icon. She shared a peek behind this process, saying:

It was such a gift. Listen, Ralph is such a talented actor that whatever he wants to transmute on screen, he will do that. And so of course he is formidable and intimidating and all of these other words. But being in a scene with him, I don’t know if it was our characters or the way that we both approach acting, I felt so comfortable. It was such a warm intimacy between the two of us, and we really took care of each other. And I think genuinely relished any time we got to have those back and forth scenes. It felt very, almost like a relief.

Talk about a dream. While other actors might have been nervous when sharing scenes with the great Ralph Fiennes, it looks like Anya Taylor-Joy thoroughly enjoyed sparring with his character Julian Slowik. Luckily The Menu features a series of private scenes between the movie’s two leads, where they were able to craft a fascinating dynamic for their characters.

Anya Taylor-Joy and Ralph Fiennes speaking in The Menu

(Image credit: Searchlight Pictures)

Later in our conversation, Anya Taylor-Joy further explained how the unique way director Mark Mylod (Succession) shot The Menu made her solo scenes with Ralph Fiennes all the more special. Namely because the ensemble of actors were largely together the whole movie, filming on one singular set. As she offered:

Because the way that Mark wanted to shoot was 360. We were all mic’d all the time. We were always improvising, and it was incredible. But it was also quite energetic. And I feel like any time it was Ralph and I alone everything kind of calmed down a little bit. And we go to just be with each other in that more intimate space.

Luckily for moviegoing audiences, The Menu is in the midst of its opening weekend, so we can watch Anya Taylor-Joy and Ralph Fiennes’ work on the big screen. Although the Queen’s Gambit actress wasn’t the only member of the movie’s cast who enjoyed working with Fiennes. Watchmen’s Hong Chau plays Elsa in the new horror flick, and she also spoke about the experience working with him. In Chau’s words:

Ralph Fiennes, I think, he’s a living legend. He’s one of our greatest actors. And I could immediately picture him saying the lines as I was reading the script. But it was one thing to imagine it and another thing to actually be there to witness it. He is just a force and a powerhouse and has such a way with language. And we all felt like we were sitting in on a master’s class, because we got to sit back and watch Ralph do these really great monologues to us, his audience.

While filming movies is known to be a long and grueling experience, it sounds like getting to see Ralph Fiennes perform live helped make it a thrilling shoot for Hong Chau. Because who doesn’t want to sit in the front row as the acclaimed actor performs a thrilling monologue? Sign me up.

The Menu is in theaters now, and features more familiar faces like Judith Light, John Leguizamo (who recently weighed in on the Super Mario Bros. casting), Nicholas Hault, Broad City’s Arturo Castro, and Ozark star Janet McTeer. Be sure to check out the 2022 movie release dates to plan your next movie experience. There are still a handful of horror projects hitting theaters before the New Year. 

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Double majored in theater and literature during undergrad. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his famous actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid.