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Life’s biggest breaks often hinge on being in the right place at the right time. Case in point: Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga star Anya Taylor-Joy’s acting career was launched after a chance encounter with Allen Leech, the actor who played the chauffeur Tom in the hit TV series Downton Abbey.

Taylor-Joy grew up a child of the world. Born in Miami, she was raised in Buenos Aires and London. Although she started out doing professional modeling work, acting was her main passion and her end goal.

The pivotal moment in Taylor-Joy’s career came when she was in the reception room of a London modeling agency, waiting for a Love Magazine photo shoot. To pass the time, the aspiring teenaged actress was practicing a recitation of a Seamus Henry poem she planned to perform for an upcoming screen test.

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Actor, Chauffeur … Talent Scout

Leech happened to be passing by the reception room when he noticed her reading the lines. Best known as playing chauffeur Tom Branson in the popular British period drama Downton Abbey, he’s built a solid career as a character actor, including memorable roles as John Cairncross in The Imitation Game (2014) and 2018’s Queen/Freddie Mercury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody.

Based on what Leech did for Taylor-Joy, he can add “talent scout” to his CV. Her reading so impressed Him that he stopped to talk with her and promised to have his agent, Kat Gosling, reach out to her.

This was no fleeting polite impulse. Leech was sincere and followed through. The agent reached out to Taylor-Joy and signed her to a contract.



Taylor-Joy’s career soon took off. At sixteen, she left school to focus on acting and within three short years became recognized for her work in the 2015’s surprise hit horror film The Witch. Regular roles materialized from there, building up to her starring turn as Beth Harmon in Netflix’s critically acclaimed 2020 limited series The Queen’s Gambit.

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“Have you called her?”

Taylor-Joy has never forgotten Leech’s kindness, recalling in a Marie Claire interview, “I’m still so amazed he did that as he had no reason to do it and there was no benefit in him. My agent, Cat, and I are super close and she told me, ‘He really pushed it, he kept asking me have you called her yet? Have you called her? You need to call this girl!’”

About a decade later, the 28-year-old Taylor-Joy is one of the most in-demand actresses in the world. Though she only has 30 lines of dialogue in Furiosa’s nearly two-and-a-half hour runtime, the force of her performance is delivered by the striking expressiveness of her eyes, something George Miller recognized early on, and uses to his best advantage to reveal her inner thoughts and emotions.

Widely forecast to be one of 2024’s biggest blockbusters, Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga opens Memorial Day weekend. Having already earned glowing reviews, it has moviegoers flush with anticipation and excitement.


About the Author:

Born on the East Coast but currently residing on the West Coast, Andrew Martin has contributed to a variety of newspapers, magazines, blogs and other mediums  but most fondly remembers his Master’s thesis exploring the impact of the Boston Red Sox on social identity in New England. He enjoys writing about history, sports, culture and investing and recently published his first book–Baseball’s Greatest Players: 10 Baseball Biographies for New Readers, a children’s book about baseball history.

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