Born in 1990 in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, England, Aaron Taylor-Johnson started acting as a child. He made commercials and worked in theater before appearing in his first film, Tom & Thomas, in 2002. Johnson later starred as John Lennon in 2010's Nowhere Boy. That same year, he played a teen-turned-superhero in Kick-Ass. Johnson also had leading roles in Savages and Anna Karenina, both released in 2012, and later co-starred in the Marvel Comics blockbuster Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Early Life and Career
Actor Aaron Taylor-Johnson was born Aaron Perry Johnson on June 13, 1990, in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, England. Johnson spent his early years in Holmer Green, England. He later described his childhood to the Globe &Mail, saying "I grew up in a pretty rubbish area outside of London, and I knew I didn't fit in. I had to break out and find what I wanted to do." Johnson soon found his calling as an actor, appearing in commercials and on stage.
At the age of 8, Taylor-Johnson hit the London stage in a production of Shakespeare's Macbeth starring Rufus Sewell. He made his film debut in 2002's Tom &Thomas with Sean Bean. For the project, the 12-year-old actor spent six months in Amsterdam. "I had a tutor and all that," Taylor-Johnson told The Guardian news publication. "My mum quit her job and came with me. That's the way it was for a few years with the acting. I'd travel a lot then come back home and try to slip back into the school routine really quickly."
Taylor-Johnson also landed work on television, appearing in such dramas as The Bill and Casualty. Back on the big screen, he had a supporting role in the Jackie Chan-Owen Wilson western Shanghai Knights (2003). But it was Taylor-Johnson's role in the teen dramatic comedy Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging (2008) that really helped raise his profile, especially with younger British moviegoers.
Rising Film Star
Taylor-Johnson began a new phase of his career in 2010, with American audiences receiving a double dose of this rising star in two very different film projects. In Nowhere Boy, he played a young John Lennon. Taylor-Johnson worked hard to overcome what his initial obstacles in playing the character. As he explained to Vogue, "I couldn't sing. I couldn't play guitar, and I couldn't do a Liverpool accent."
The film explored the legendary music icon's teenage years and the emotionally charged family dynamics between Lennon, his mother and the aunt who largely raised him (portrayed by Kristin Scott Thomas). The independent drama was directed by artist Sam Taylor-Wood, and she and Taylor-Johnson became off-screen lovers, eventually marrying.
Also in 2010, the actor starred in the unusual action film Kick-Ass with Chloe Moretz and Nicolas Cage, with Taylor-Johnson playing a comic book devotee who turns into an unlikely superhero. The quirky movie had an impressive opening weekend gross and ultimately earned almost $100 million worldwide. A sequel was released in 2013, yielding more modest box office numbers.
Taylor-Johnson next tackled a supporting role in the gender-bending period drama Albert Nobbs (2011) with Glenn Close and Mia Wasikowska. Returning to the present day, he worked with director Oliver Stone on Savages (2012) with Blake Lively and Taylor Kitsch. His character is a marijuana grower who, along with his friend and girlfriend, get mixed up with a Mexican drug organization.
'Anna Karenina' and 'Avengers'
Later that year, Taylor-Johnson co-starred opposite Keira Knightley in the Russian drama Anna Karenina, based on the classic work by Leo Tolstoy. He played Count Vronsky, the man who has an affair with the title character (Knightley) and thus provides an alternative to her emotionally repressed husband (played by Jude Law). "I'm kind of like the typical blond in the movie ... I'm this dashing blond young officer in a white uniform," he explained to The Guardian. He also explained that the film is "a study of privilege."
Two big blockbusters were up next for Taylor-Johnson. He starred as a bomb expert in 2014's Godzilla, which earned more than $500 million worldwide, and in 2015 was seen in the realm of superheroes once again with Avengers: Age of Ultron, directed by Joss Whedon. A sequel to the first Avengers outing, Ultron featured Taylor-Johnson as Eastern European speedster Pietro Maximoff, aka Quicksilver. Though not as critically well-received as its predecessor, the movie nonetheless earned more than $1.4 billion dollars worldwide. (In a casting twist of fate, Elizabeth Olsen starred opposite Taylor-Johson in both Godzilla and Ultron, playing his wife in the former film and his sister in the latter.) In 2016 he starred as a psychopath in Nocturnal Animals and subsequently won a Golden Globe for his supporting role.
Johnson is married to director Sam Taylor-Wood, known for 2015's erotic Fifty Shades of Grey. The couple wed in June 2012. Around the same time, the actor changed his last name to Taylor-Johnson, with Sam doing the same. Much has been made of the couple's age difference—she is more than 20 years older than him—but they appear to be unaffected by the talk. They have two daughters together, Wylda Rose and Romy Hero.
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