‘Furiosa’ Star Alyla Browne on Being Cast as Young Anya Taylor-Joy

Alyla Browne may only be 14 years old, but in the short time she’s been acting she’s somehow managed to assemble one of the most ridiculously star-studded on-screen family trees.

In Hulu’s “Nine Perfect Strangers,” she played Nicole Kidman’s daughter. In Amazon Studio’s “The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart,” she was Sigourney Weaver’s granddaughter. Meanwhile, in George’s Miller’s fantasy “Three Thousand Years of Longing,” she appeared as a young Tilda Swinton. 

But the fast-rising Australian is about to top all of that. In “Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga,” she plays the Imperator Furiosa as a child, meaning she’s not just the young Anya Taylor-Joy, but the young Charlize Theron as well. 

“It’s absolutely insane,” notes the teen, now juggling her studies with her first trip to Cannes for the world premiere of the one of the year’s most highly anticipated films (thankfully, she attends a performing arts school in Sydney, so they’re quite understanding). “I’m really lucky to work with all these amazing people. But it is insane.”

Browne was eyed for the “Furiosa” role extremely early on in the film’s development process, and in typically eclectic Miller fashion. 

Between takes while shooting “Three Thousand Years of Longing” in late 2020 — “in an old mental asylum of all places,” she notes — Browne began doing the middle splits, where both legs are stretched out to the side to create a 180 angle (or as near as possible to it). “I used to do gymnastics, and was bored,” she says. The master “Mad Max” filmmaker was watching and, she recalls, told her, “Wow, that’s strange, you remind me of a young Furiosa.”

As it happens, Browne’s mom had already foreseen the future, telling her daughter that she really hoped she’d get the “Three Thousand” years gig as “George is doing this new thing called ‘Furiosa’ and there might be a kid role in that.” She was bang on the money.

But it wasn’t until a year later that Browne got on a Zoom with Miller, who offered her the part almost immediately. “He has a very visual brain, so he probably visualizes each actor in that character before he says they’ve been cast,” she says. “In his head, they are the character.”

By mid-2022, Browne was out shooting on the scorched post-apocalyptic “Mad Max”-y wastelands of Australia’s outback, sharing scenes with Chris Hemsworth as a young girl snatched by a biker horde and performing various stunts (including a fall down a rock face). It’s no small role. “There are five parts to it, and I’m in the first two,” she notes (although she would have happily signed up even it was “just a scene or two,” which was her initial expectation).

“I actually love things that are post-apocalyptic, and I’m in one of the biggest, coolest post-apocalyptic films in the world … which is incredible,” she says, admitting that, despite its R rating, she has actually seen “Furiosa” (“I’m in it, so I’m allowed!”). She’s also seen its predecessor, “Fury Road,” and adores something else that is distinctly un-family friendly, “The Last of Us.” Browne is even trying to develop her own post-apocalyptic project, ideally one with horses (“I’d be in any kind of horse film, and if there is no horse film for me, then I’ll just make my own”).

But whether she finds the time is another thing. Alongside “Furiosa,” this year Browne also appears as the lead in sci-fi spider horror “Sting” from Kiah Roach-Turner (whose cult low-budget zombie thriller “Wyrmwood” was, coincidentally, inspired by “Max Max”). And she recently wrapped Paramount’s “Sonic the Hedgehog 3.” 

As it happens, Browne’s character Maria Robotnik is the cousin of Dr. Robotnik, meaning that she has a new on-screen relative to add to the family tree. This time, it’s Jim Carrey. 

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