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Why New England was the perfect setting for 'Thoroughbreds'

Anya Taylor-Joy and Corey Finley open up about the dark and witty new thriller.
Thoroughbreds
Olivia Cooke stars as Amanda and Anya Taylor-Joy as Lily in "Thoroughbreds." Photo by Claire Folger / Focus Features

Boston has become somewhat of a home away from home for Anya Taylor-Joy.

The rising Hollywood star has surprisingly spent a lot of time in and around the city over the past few years, whether it's for press tours or filming blockbusters like the upcoming X-Men spinoff "The New Mutants." While she doesn't own a Tom Brady jersey—yet—the 21-year-old actress admits she's gotten pretty comfortable with the Hub and has a lot of love for the Bay State.

"I’ve been on a lot of planes recently, so sometimes I don’t really know where I am," Taylor-Joy told Metro during her latest trip to Boston. "This morning, without even thinking about it, I just walked out of the hotel and went to grab a cup of coffee because I actually know where I am."

"I have a support group here and it’s wonderful," she adds. "I really vibe with Massachusetts."

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Taylor-Joy was recently back in town thanks to her role in "Thoroughbreds," attending screenings and chatting with media alongside director and writer Corey Finley. This dark, yet often humorous, thriller has already earned a ton of praise from critics since it debuted at Sundance last year.

Set in an wealthy Connecticut neighborhood, Taylor-Joy plays Lily, a teenager who hates her step-father—played by Paul Sparks of "House of Cards"—and ends up unearthing her dark side while rekindling her friendship with Olivia Cooke's Amanda, a witty, but emotionless girl with her own twisted past. Filming for "Thoroughbreds" took place around Massachusetts in 2016, with the bulk of the production setting up shop at The Oaks, a gorgeous mansion in Cohasset.

Aside from providing a beautiful backdrop for the film, Finley chose to use an upscale and uptight New England neighborhood as his setting because he "was interested in a community that felt very sheltered and insulated."

"I was interested in a cultural community that had that sort of upright propriety," Finley says. "It’s fun to watch things being suppressed and pushed down and trying to escape rather than characters that are very free to express themselves. I think there’s a fun tension there."

Taylor-Joy's Lily marks another "messy, complicated," yet undeniably interesting character on her résumé. She found her breakout role with the tormented Thomasin in the fan-favorite, New England-set horror flick "The Witch," and recently returned to the genre with M. Night Shyamalan's hit "Unbreakable" sequel "Split." She's also set to bring some scares as a magic-weilding mutant in Fox's fright fest take on a Marvel superhero team.

Although Lily doesn't have to fight any demons or fend off monstrous killers, she does find herself walking down a scary path throughout "Thoroughbreds."

"It’s so strange because I wish I was an awesome mastermind that was like, 'I want my career to be like this,' but I do just really follow the characters and the script," Taylor-Joy says. "First I fall in love with the character, then I fall in love with the world around it and then, hopefully, the last perfect piece of the puzzle is that you have a director that you completely believe in and you would jump when he says jump."

"I feel very privileged and lucky to have been able to play such messy, complicated women that do live in the gray, because I think that's a true story," she adds. "People are getting tired of seeing cookie-cutter stereotypes, so the fact that there are more and more of these roles that are complicated and are honest and true, I just feel lucky that I’m just a part of that now."

Hailed by some critics as a "remarkable" film with an "'American Psycho' meets 'Heathers'" twist to it, "Thoroughbreds" is already on track to become the next great cult classic. Finley hopes his directorial debut frames a question in the minds of viewers about "the invisible violence of wealth’s acquisition."

"For me, it’s asking things about how capitalism influences interpersonal relationships and how all of us treat one another within a system that is built on wealth," Finley says. "How do our backgrounds shape us? What do we gain or lose in our friendships with other people?"

"Thoroughbreds" opens in theaters March 9.