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Olivia Cooke and Anya Taylor-Joy talk ‘Thoroughbreds’ and not playing nice girls: ‘It is a very empowering time right now’

‘This was so devilish it was just something that we completely relished’
Olivia Cooke and Anya Taylor-Joy in Thoroughbreds
[Image: Focus Features]

Thoroughbreds is a delectable dark comedy thriller that manages to entice as much as it unsettles.

In order to shift from one tone to the other without hindering the film the dual lead roles of Lily and Amanda needed to be cast perfectly. 

Thankfully for writer and director Cory Finley Anya Taylor-Joy (“The Witch”) and Olivia Cooke (“Me And Earl And The Dying Girl”), two of the most celebrated young actors in Hollywood, were chomping at the bit to be a part of “Thoroughbreds,” especially because the roles were so unique, as well as “deliciously dark and mean.”

I recently had the chance to talk to 24-year-old Cooke and 21-year-old Taylor-Joy about “Thoroughbreds,” the difference between studio and independent films and being involved in the empowering female movement.

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What originally stood out about "Thoroughbreds"?
ATJ - For both of us it was the dialogue, which was very deliciously dark and mean. But it an incredibly intelligent way. And the intense relationship between these two women that aren’t particularly likable, who you still end up emphasizing with.

OC - A lot of times when you are a young woman you get cast as the innocent ingénue, the nice girl, and this was so devilish it was just something that we completely relished

Do you think the numbness of the characters is just a modern trait?
OC – I think we are just more aware of it now. There has been no other time where we have looked into ourselves and discussed our mental health and what makes us tick more. And monitored how everything makes us feel. This is a product of our generation. Because before Amanda probably would have just come across as eccentric. You wouldn’t have given her a mental illness straight away.  

Do you have a different approach to these such films instead of blockbusters?
ATJ – I don’t think there is a difference to how you approach the characters, because you are still being another person and telling their stories. No matter how big the final scope is. But what’s great about independent films is that you feel like you are down in the trenches with everybody. Because you usually have no time, and every hand is used and accepted. You are all pitching towards the same goal. With more money you have more time. People try and stick you more into the role of an actor. It’s almost like, ‘Sit there.’ On this we were all co-creators working towards the same goal.

OC – There’s more trust with independent film. Because when you are on a bigger budget movie you feel more of a liability. Everyone just has their specific department. And you don’t feel like you can cross that. It is much more fluid on an independent film.

Obviously a lot has happened in Hollywood over the last few months, does wanting to help change attitudes impact the roles you take?
ATJ – I think if you are intellectualizing it that much, and you are over thinking it, you probably lose the magic. When you love a character and you really want to tell their story it is much more about your personal connection with the character. I think the audience can tell when you are not completely invested in this person’s life, and you are just doing it to prove a point. But it is wonderful to be associated with a film that is carrying such a progressive message and is presenting the world with two messy, very dark women.

OC – I think it is important not to politicize this with current events. Because you can lose the magic of how the gender dynamics work. But it is a very empowering time right now.

"Thoroughbreds" is released on March 9.