Aaron Taylor-Johnson

by Heather Seidler

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511 Slim Fit Jeans By Levi’s And Shoes By Bottega Veneta.

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Bullion embroidered harness by Dries Van Noten and necklaces (worn throughout) talent’s own.

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Bullion embroidered robe by Dries Van Noten, ‘Jake Slim Leg’ jeans by Mavi, and leather sandals by Versace. Models wear sleeveless button-up shirt by 7 For All Mankind, ‘Ladonna’ ripped jeans by Siwy, and tennis shoes by American Apparel.

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Silk cotton faille stripe jacket with grosgrain trim and metal anchor buttons, silk poplin pajama shirt, and silk cotton faille stripe flare evening pants by Gucci.

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‘Paxtyn’ jeans in marine terrace by 7 for all Mankind.

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Long denim print coat by Fendi, ‘Slimmy’ Jeans in fairfax by 7 For All Mankind, sandals by Michael Kors, and ring talent’s own.

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Wool suit, cotton button-up shirt, and silk pocket square by SAND Copenhagen and sunglasses by Thom Browne by Dita.

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Bullion embroidered robe and bullion embroidered harness by Dries Van Noten, and ‘Jake slim leg’ Jeans by Mavi. Models from left to right: Raquel, Betsy, and Felix wear sleeveless button-up shirt by 7 For All Mankind, ‘Ladonna’ ripped jeans by Siwy, and tennis shoes by American Apparel.

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Long denim print coat by Fendi, ‘slimmy’ Jeans in Fairfax by 7 For All Mankind, sandals by Michael Kors, and ring talent’s own.

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Silk cotton faille stripe jacket with grosgrain trim and metal anchor buttons, silk poplin pajama shirt, and silk cotton faille stripe flare evening pants by Gucci.

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Leather knit top by Hermès.

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Bullion embroidered robe and buillion embroidered harness by Dries Van Noten and ‘Jake Slim Leg’ Jeans By Mavi.

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Wool suit, cotton button-up shirt, and silk pocket square by SAND Copenhagen and sunglasses by Thom Browne by Dita.

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Printed short sleeve button-up shirt and Shorts by Givenchy and Leather Sandals by Hermès.

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Printed short sleeve button-up shirt and Shorts by Givenchy and Leather Sandals by Hermès. Raquel, Betsy, and Felix wear sleeveless button-up shirt by 7 For All Mankind, ‘Ladonna’ ripped jeans by Siwy, and tennis shoes by American Apparel.

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Bullion embroidered robe by Dries Van Noten.

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Bullion embroidered robe and buillion embroidered harness by Dries Van Noten

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Bullion embroidered robe and buillion embroidered harness by Dries Van Noten. Raquel, Betsy, and Felix wear sleeveless button-up shirt by 7 For All Mankind, ‘Ladonna’ ripped jeans by Siwy, and tennis shoes by American Apparel.

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Bullion embroidered harness by Dries Van Noten.

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Bullion embroidered harness by Dries Van Noten.

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Bullion embroidered harness by Dries Van Noten.

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Bullion embroidered harness by Dries Van Noten.

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511 slim fit jeans by Levi’s.

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511 slim fit jeans by Levi’s.

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Leather knit top by Hermès.

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Worn in Jean jacket in vintage dark and ‘Paxtyn’ jeans in Marine terrace and sleeveless button-up shirt and ‘The modern straight’ jeans with raw hem by 7 for all Mankind. Raquel, Betsy, and Felix wear sleeveless button-up shirt by 7 For All Mankind, ‘Ladonna’ ripped jeans by Siwy, and tennis shoes by American Apparel.

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Worn in Jean jacket in vintage dark and ‘Paxtyn’ jeans in Marine terrace and sleeveless button-up shirt and ‘The modern straight’ jeans with raw hem by 7 for all Mankind. Raquel, Betsy, and Felix wear sleeveless button-up shirt by 7 For All Mankind, ‘Ladonna’ ripped jeans by Siwy, and tennis shoes by American Apparel.

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‘Paxtyn’ jeans in marine terrace by 7 for all Mankind. Raquel, Betsy, and Felix wear sleeveless button-up shirt by 7 For All Mankind, ‘Ladonna’ ripped jeans by Siwy, and tennis shoes by American Apparel.

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‘Paxtyn’ jeans in marine terrace by 7 for all Mankind.

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‘Paxtyn’ jeans in marine terrace by 7 for all Mankind.

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‘Paxtyn’ jeans in marine terrace by 7 for all Mankind.

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‘Paxtyn’ jeans in marine terrace by 7 for all Mankind.

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‘Paxtyn’ jeans in marine terrace by 7 for all Mankind.

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‘Paxtyn’ jeans in marine terrace by 7 for all Mankind.

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‘Paxtyn’ jeans in marine terrace by 7 for all Mankind.

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‘Paxtyn’ jeans in marine terrace by 7 for all Mankind. Raquel, Betsy, and Felix wear sleeveless button-up shirt by 7 For All Mankind, ‘Ladonna’ ripped jeans by Siwy, and tennis shoes by American Apparel.

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‘Paxtyn’ jeans in marine terrace by 7 for all Mankind.

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Aaron Taylor-Johnson

After our 9:45, I need the chopper to the desert to meet my followers and deliver them from uncertainty

Moments before the rarefied Los Angeles rain begins to fall from its smog-riddled sky, Aaron Taylor-Johnson politely takes a seat amongst Chateau Marmont’s gilt-edged patrons. The tarp overhead umbrellas him, but my seat is positioned outside the protection zone of the tarp shield. Just as we’ve settled in, droplets begin to graze my face, and before I’ve the chance to bat a lash, Johnson has relocated my belongings under the canopy. It’s this little graciousness that belies his courteous nature instantly. Then there’s his consummate eye contact. It’s a keen but unassuming gaze, his blockbuster-blue eyes peering at you with curiosity. He portrays a casual disposition, a willingness to ease into things. I thank him for narrowly saving my hairspray-addled hair from the mangled mess it was to become beneath the deluge. Safe and dry, we resettle.

He’s bearded on this day and still bulked up from his latest superhero role, but far from looking like a hairy bag of biceps. He rolls out his childhood in a small English town in Buckinghamshire County, his adolescent stint in Amsterdam, twenties in California—winsome tales of how he’s traveled abroad for acting since he was ten years old. And in listening, I digest his stories, his history, his adventures, skimming just the surface of the 25-year old man in front of me.

This is the man who, shortly after his lauded portrayal of John Lennon in 2009’s Nowhere Boy, parlayed into a pack of career-minting high-profile hits—KickassSavagesGodzillaAnnaKarenina, and most recently, Avengers: Age of Ultron. Aaron Taylor-Johnson doesn’t take on a role recklessly. His process is a courtship, a series of carefully mulled-over considerations. He teetered for a year over talks with Avengers director Joss Whedon, before deciding to take on the iconic role of Quicksilver. It’s this calibrated dance that’s landed him roles he’s well suited for, proving his continuity between characters that are larger than life and completely believable.

“Before there was a script,” he says, “Joss and I had a year of communication with Marvel about how to portray Quicksilver. At first, I wondered why they would want another superhero when there’s already five major iconic superheroes played by five huge movie stars. But Joss had an important reason for Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. They’d have this real strong impact that was threaded throughout the film,” Taylor-Johnson says. “I wanted to help create the character. Sure, he runs really fast, that’s his superpower—but what’s his story? I wanted to know who’s behind that power, to know the real man. I needed to figure out how I could make him relatable—three-dimensional. Also I wanted him to come from an Eastern European descent and I wanted a specific look for him. We talked a lot about that and that’s what ultimately sold me. So I jumped on that bullet train.”

He looks up from the rim of his cappuccino, as if he’d given his oncoming words deep consideration, though they were delivered with the merest of pauses.

“It’s not just about character, it’s about the filmmaker as well. It’s about working with great directors. I’m so selective. The roles that I’ve turned down are just due to the fact that the character itself didn’t really do it for me, didn’t challenge me enough. I have to connect to that character and know that I’ll be able to properly execute its story alongside the director. When I pick characters, there’s a diversity, something I obviously associate with, and I embed myself in that.”

After having embedded himself in the billion-dollar Avengers boilerplate, he’s proving to be that kind of prescient young celebrity who can adequately handle the gale-force burst of widespread mainstream attention. Fluidly navigating the limelight minefield is a skill not oft endowed, but Taylor-Johnson has already had his lion’s share of tabloid scrutiny and their verbal stinky-doings. Years ago, tabloids had a field day over his marriage to director Sam Taylor-Johnson, due to their twenty-three year age gap. But it’s a romance that refreshingly defies public convention, without artifice. “There’s not much people don’t already know,” he says, of the unruly publicity of his private life. “It’s tricky to be open and candid while maintaining privacy, but the veil’s already been lifted and I think I have a handle on it now.”

Before his name ever gleaned a headline, he contemplated his career when it was still burgeoning, and felt he needed to live life and get his street cred in order. He did not want flash-in-the-pan success or middle-of-the-road purgatory. Namely, he wanted an informed existence before he continued to craft fictional ones onscreen.

“To be a better actor, I needed to draw upon true, real experiences. I needed to be able to fill my cup, I needed more knowledge and experience, so I just started to do it all. I worked hard, played hard, and had money to burn. I got myself into some serious, crappy situations. My adolescence was all about wild exploring and experimentation, about doing and trying everything. Searching for what fit right,” Taylor-Johnson admits, the soft timbre of his accented voice unwavering. “For anyone going through adolescence, it’s a struggle. With all the sort of stuff that was coming my way, I had to just figure it out and understand it all. I got in a lot of trouble, but it was from a place of discovery. You either make it through in one piece without too much collateral damage, and come out the other side a grown up, or you can go completely south.”

Barely in his twenties, Taylor-Johnson has achieved more than most do in a lifetime—happy marriage, four children (two biological and two from marriage), and governable fame. Now his days are turbocharged by kid’s gymnastics class, not devil-may-care ragers. Know this much about Aaron Taylor-Johnson: Man loves acting. He speaks of it with the same gleam rich men have when they discuss spiffy wine.

“[Growing up] I thought I was stupid, wasn’t clever enough,” explains Taylor-Johnson. “I had really low self esteem, but when I started making films, and was around all these people in the film world, I felt empowered and I felt special. Not because I was an actor, not because of the fame from it. I felt like I finally had a voice. I was able to be openly and freely myself. I was allowed to cry and be emotional. I was allowed to yell and be as bold as I wanted.”

He takes a moment, then blue-eyes me a bit from under his brow, so that I get the significance of what he’s saying: “In acting, I was encouraged to have my own opinion and my own voice, for the first time. It was naturally cathartic. Then I’d go back to school, and all of that freedom would be beaten out of me. So I took my exams at fifteen, finished school and never looked back.”

On what happened next, he says, “After school, I threw myself more into acting, did job after job. Constantly running away. Ultimately, I was just lost. Then my life completely changed with Nowhere Boy, when I met Sam [Taylor-Johnson]. We just clicked from day one. We’re very close and instantly had a connection. I was just on the cusp at that point. In a way, she helped me transition out of that nomad kind-of-lifestyle. Because I felt secure with her. Second I met Sam, I knew I wanted to stop running, I just wanted to stay in the moment with her. And that’s what it’s been ever since then.”

Interesting Taylor-Johnson should mention no longer running from his own life, when paradoxically, running is what he’s known for as of late—be it at the hypersonic pace of Quicksilver, or with the measured step of an unostentatious yet undeniable movie star, padding down a burgundy carpet, acting like it’s just an ordinary rain-slick pavement.

Photographer: Michael Muller at MullerPhoto.com

Stylist: Jimi Urquiaga for OpusBeauty.com

Prop Stylist: David Ross

Models: Felix for FreedomModels.com, L.A. and Raquel Radiske and Betsy Volk for NextModels.com, L.A.

Groomer: Lucy Halperin for Starworksartists.com

Hair for models: Christine Nelli for Eamgmt.com using Davines Hair Care

Makeup for models: Homa Safar for Eamgmt.com using Chanel

Helicopter Pilot: Jacob Barber at RoyalHelicopter.com

Photography Assistants: Dillon Couchois, Ricky Ridecos, and Chad Brooks

Motorhome: Quixote

Grooming Notes: Flash Rinse One Minute Facial by REN Clean Skincare, Moisturizing Renewal Cream by Révive, Tinted Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 15 by Bobbi Brown, and Hydra Beauty Nourishing Lip Care by Chanel. Style+Care Nourishing Curls Whipped Cream Mousse by Dove.