Anya Taylor-Joy on the very real impact of negative self-talk

5 Minute Philosopher is a weekly series in which Stylist gets profound with people we love. What will the actor make of our existential questions?

What is the meaning of life? 

Becoming comfortable with the fact that we will never really know the answer to that question and throwing yourself into the abyss anyway.

What is the difference between right and wrong?

I think other than murder and things that are unequivocally wrong it really depends on the person. You have to make up your own moral code.

Where is your happy place?

I guess any place that has a congregation of the people I love.

Nature or nurture?

A bit of both. The world can nurture you to be a certain way, but nature plays a part.

Is it more important to be liked or respected?

The puppy in me wants to say, “Like me, like me, like me”, but I think ultimately I’d rather be well respected.

If you could be remembered for one thing what would it be?

For the smiles I’ve left on faces.

Who or what is your greatest love? 

It’s a toss-up between my dog and my work. I think the one thing I can’t live without is my need to create.

When did you last lie? 

Yesterday. I lied when I said I could play squash – I really can’t.

Does the supernatural exist? 

I think it does. In my mind it seems slightly arrogant to believe that we are the biggest thing in this universe. There’s so much that’s inexplicable.

Are you fatalistic? 

To a certain degree. I believe some things are written, but I also believe in freedom of will and I believe in free choice.

What is your greatest fear?

Getting to the end of my life and realising I haven’t achieved all the things I wanted to – and not having achieved them out of fear.

Animals or babies? 

Am I a monster if I say animals? They’re fluffy! 

What talent do you yearn for? 

Ever since I was a little girl I’ve wished I could draw.

Do you like to be complimented? 

Yes, but I find that when someone compliments me I make myself smaller and my voice goes higher. People are not really sure how to take compliments and I think it’s important. I’ve trained myself to always say thank you, no matter how it makes me feel.

Do you have a high pain threshold? 

Emotionally, definitely. Physically, it all depends on the headspace I’m in. I can be pretty tough.

What book do you recommend most to others? 

I recently read Three Women by Lisa Taddeo, which was truly exceptional. But my favourite book I’d recommend to anyone would be Peter Pan.

Which lesson has been the hardest to learn? 

That negative self-talk and negative self-image have a real impact on how you live your life. I think it’s important to spend time analysing the way you speak to yourself, and why.

What food sums up happiness? 

Pasta with butter and cheese. And if you’re going to be extra, truffle oil. Big time.

What have you never understood?

I have never understood people’s intolerance. If it doesn’t affect you directly, why do you care about it? Just let people live.

What is the one thing you want to know before you die? 

I’d like to look back at my life, remember all the times I was confused, see a line running through everything and be like, ‘Ohhh, that’s why that happened.’ It would be nice to look back and see the full tapestry and be like, ‘Oh yeah, I get it.’

Are you scared of dying or what happens when you die? 

Not really, unless I’m in a plane and there’s turbulence. Otherwise, there’s too much to be worried about when you’re living.

Quinoa or Quavers? 

Neither. Pasta with butter and cheese, all the way.

Anya Taylor-Joy is the face of Viktor & Rolf’s new fragrance Flowerbomb Dew, £56 for 30ml, available at Debenhams and retailers nationwide

Book cover: Alma Classics

Photography: Txema Yeste

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