Anya Taylor-Joy has described the brief use of male nudity in the latest Austen adaptation as “really important” because it shows the characters are real people.
The Split star plays the title role in the new telling of Emma, in which she stars opposite Johnny Flynn as her sparring partner and love interest Mr Knightley.
The film includes a scene of the actor getting dressed, featuring what the British Board of Film Classification refers to as “brief natural nudity”, and Taylor-Joy told the PA news agency: “I think it was really important, the geeky side of me was really excited because this really hasn’t been shot on film, we haven’t actually seen this so from an educational point of view, ‘here you go, this is how men dress themselves in the Regency period’.
“And the other side of me thought the thing with Mr Knightley is that you have to understand why the two of them get together, yes they are intellectual matches and they really like each other but he’s also an attractive man and often times that kind of gets forgotten about a little bit because he’s so moral.
“It was important for Autumn (de Wilde, the director) to be like ‘No, once you meet him you need to know this is a leading man and this is a romantic interest’ and I think she achieved that very well.”
She added: “Also they are people, I think of the way he is being dressed and you can see how uncomfortable it is and when he strips off his clothes in frustration and lies down on the ground, because you see him get dressed, you understand how oppressive the costumes are.
“It’s what they wore day to day but you can feel that because you see all the layers underneath.”
Taylor-Joy was due to be working on a new film when the coronavirus pandemic struck but said she has been using the lockdown time to rest.
She said: “I’m missing creating for sure, but I also haven’t had a lot of time to tend to my own life, to really understand what it is to be in your early 20s living in a house with other people, so that has been quite a novelty for me.
“Even having breakfast in the same kitchen every morning. I’m obviously not saying ‘yay for corona’ at all, absolutely not, I’m aware that this isn’t really a situation I would have had otherwise and I’m grateful to know what it’s like to make your toast in the same kitchen every morning.
“I’ve just been like a teenager, I’ve dyed my hair bright red, I’ve been collaging.”
Emma is available on blu-ray and DVD from June 22 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.