Anya-Taylor Joy and Willem Dafoe talk reteaming with director Robert Eggers on The Northman

The Northman adds another string to director Robert Eggers’ bow. The filmmaker – behind The Witch and The Lighthouse – is best known for his intimate, esoteric movies shot on a limited budget, yet his upcoming feature is a hulking epic with a hugely exciting, star-studded cast.

Among the names – including Ethan Hawke, Alexander Skarsgård, Nicole Kidman, Björk – are a handful of actors returning to the Eggers’ fold. Anya Taylor-Joy, who broke out thanks to her stunning turn in The Witch, has a co-leading role in the new film, while Willem Dafoe (reuniting with Eggers after The Lighthouse) is Heimir the fool. Kate Dickie and Ralph Ineson are also back working with Eggers.

For Taylor-Joy, reteaming with the director was a no-brainer. “Absolutely,” she chuckles while talking with Total Film for the new issue of the magazine (opens in new tab). She points to the creative team behind Eggers’ films re-assembling. “I mean, I will take any opportunity to be a part of making art with this group of people. It really felt like a homecoming, and I was absolutely elated every single day. We’ve all maintained a family unit. But what I will say is that the scale of this film is much bigger. There were definitely moments where Rob, Jarin [Blaschke, Director of Photography] and I would look at each other, and we’re like, ‘OK, this is different than me helping lay down the dolly track. We’re moving up in the world!’”

Dafoe flashes the toothy grin he so effectively clamped around the stem of a pipe in The Lighthouse. “Of course I wanted to work with him again,” he says. “The Lighthouse was such a good experience, and also I admired, very much, The Witch. That’s what really led me to reach out to him, to have a meeting. And then we hit it off. I think he’s a supremely talented guy. He’s got an original voice. He’s a crazy believer. He’s a crazy researcher. And he understands performance, and he understands cinema. So what else do you want?”

Newbie Hawke, who’s worked with such cinematic icons as Richard Linklater, Paul Schrader, and Peter Weir, was bowled over by what he saw. “It was awesome,” he starts, wide-eyed. “It’s incredibly rare to see someone strive for the level of excellence that Robert strives [for]. The level of discipline and aspirations were sky high. It’s fun sometimes to watch somebody swing for the fences. Robert wasn’t trying to make a good movie. He was trying to make a phenomenal work of art. I mean, he was pressing himself and all of us to the limit. And frankly, I just loved it.”

The Northman hits UK cinemas on April 15, before opening in the US on April 2022. For much more on the film, including interviews with Eggers, Skarsgård, Taylor-Joy, Hawke, Dafoe, and Claes Bang, check out the brand new issue of Total Film (opens in new tab) when it hits shelves this Thursday, March 3. Check out the new covers below.

Total Film's The Northman issue

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