In the new science fiction thriller Morgan, appearances can be deceiving. The titular character, played by Anya Taylor-Joy, may look like an innocent young woman, but she’s really a genetically engineered being who can read minds and kick ass. Lee Weathers (Kate Mara), a corporate risk assessment agent who is tasked with evaluating Morgan, has her own secrets to hide as well.
Screen Rant had a chance to speak with Taylor-Joy and Mara at Morgan’s L.A. press junket, where we talked about the intellectual and physical training that went into their preparations for their anti-heroic characters.
WARNING: This interview contains spoilers for the movie’s big plot twist, so if you want to go into Morgan unspoiled, you should probably wait till after seeing the movie to check out this interview.
I absolutely loved this movie. I have a question for you, because going back and thinking on it, do you think there was a hero in this film, and who do you think it was?
Anya Taylor-Joy: Ooh. [looks at Mara] You’re gonna go first, and I’m gonna think about it.
Kate Mara: Well I don’t know, that’s why I’m looking at you like that. Cause there’s sort of a lot of anti-heroes.
I felt like I didn’t know who to root for towards the end.
Mara: Yeah. But that’s one of the reasons I loved this script, was because you don’t know who--or you have a lot of different opinions on who is right and who is wrong and who’s morally corrupt and who’s not.
Mara: And it constantly shifts from the beginning to the end.
Taylor-Joy: It’s changing continuously, so hopefully it’s--yeah I like that about the anti-heros. We’re all very flawed, for sure.
And then Kate, going into this, did you know that your character wasn’t human?
Mara: No, I had not idea.
Mara: Well, no, when I read the script I was shocked.
Did that affect the way you played it at all?
Mara: Oh well yeah, I mean you certainly don’t wanna give that away, cause that’s um--
Taylor-Joy: The kicker at the end.
Mara: Yeah, you don’t want people to know that so we were very careful about how we played that.
And Morgan was supposed to be androgynous, did you [Taylor-Joy] go in with the mindset of it being a female, because she was referred to as “she” and “her” a lot, or did you go in with a mindset of playing it with no gender at all?
Taylor-Joy: Well you know I think that Morgan herself doesn’t give herself a gender, you know? I’m using “herself” just because I’m Anya, and I think of Morgan as a girl, but I don’t think Morgan thinks of herself as anything. I just tried to think of myself as a being that was just experiencing everything for the first time, gender didn’t really come into it that much for me.
Kate, another question I have was, your character when you meet Dr. Chang (Michelle Yeoh), she recognizes you, but you say that you have no recollection of that. Is that something that is gonna be explored later on down the line, or is that a part of the origin that you knew?
Mara: Oh in like a sequel? [grins]
Mara: That’d be so fun. I don’t know, that would be fantastic. I would love to explore what happened before or what happens after. I’d be up for that for sure.
Taylor-Joy: Sounds like stuff went down.
Mara: Yeah, right? [laughs]
A lot of the fights you guys did were intense, extremely intense, but they were also graceful, very graceful action scenes. What kind of training went into that?
Taylor-Joy: We trained a lot with this unbelievable stunt team. And we had two weeks of just training before we started filming, and then any time that we weren’t on set we were fighting each other, essentially. [laughs] But it was like a dance, we learned it like a dance, and then that allows you to put in the viciousness afterwards, cause you have to be comfortable with it.
Mara: Yeah, our director Luke [Scott] was really specific about wanting--before we started shooting, I knew I was gonna be making the movie I think it was almost two months before, and he asked me to box and also do ballet, to have both, sort of, extremes. And so then when we actually got to Ireland and learned all of the choreography it was a mixture of all of those things.
Awesome. And then last question, Anya. You said you had an eleven page script that you did with Paul Giamatti in that scene in the room. Was there anything that you brought to that character that wasn’t on the page?
Taylor-Joy: When you’re lucky enough to be sitting across the table from Paul Giamatti, and you’re doing--you know we did it in one take the whole day, so we would just go again and again and again. I think we just sort of fed off of each other in this very interesting way. And the way that it started off at the beginning, by the end of it it just got more and more intense. And it was fun to play with the varying degrees of, you know, how far he could push Morgan and she could play vulnerable and small, and then when that switch happens of, you know, you don’t know who you’re playing with and you need to be careful. And that was fun to kind of modulate and play around with.
Morgan is now playing in U.S. theaters.