ALL CROPS: 628862378 Aaron Taylor-Johnson attends the GQ Men of the Year party at Chateau Marmont on December 8, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic
Credit: Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

The Golden Globe nominees for Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture are a group of four pretty good guys — from Mahershala Ali’s surrogate father in Moonlight to Jeff Bridges’ dogged cop in Hell or High Water to Simon Helberg’s hapless pianist in Florence Foster Jenkins to Dev Patel’s determined pathfinder in Lion — and then there’s Aaron Taylor-Johnson.

The British actor, best known for superhero parts in Kick-Ass and Avengers: Age of Ultron, plays a pretty bad guy in Tom Ford’s Nocturnal Animals. His malevolent performance obviously impressed the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, perhaps even more so when they realized what a stretch Taylor-Johnson’s road-rage psychopath was from the soft-spoken real-life person.

“Man, I’m trying to get my head around this all,” he tells EW on the phone from his home in California, while getting ready to take his daughters to school. “It’s extremely overwhelming and exciting and I feel very blessed and flattered.”

Taylor-Johnson’s previous night actually prepared him for the eventfulness of Golden Globe nomination morning. “We have a 10-week-old puppy that we just rescued and around midnight I heard him calling out, so I was outside, freezing, to help relieve him. Then at 3 in the morning, I was up with one of my daughters, who’d had a bad dream. And then around 5:30 a.m., my wife [artist and filmmaker Sam Taylor-Johnson] ran in to the bedroom jumping up and down to tell me the [Golden Globe nomination] news.”

Taylor-Johnson shares all of his scenes in Nocturnal Animals with either Jake Gyllenhaal or Michael Shannon — and mentions the two of them while describing his awed reaction. “I couldn’t have gotten to this place without the challenge of working side-by-side with Jake and Michael,” he says. “And having Tom Ford at the helm to guide me was a real gift. I’m super proud of Tom, who got nominated for director and screenplay. The screenplay is something that I think hasn’t been talked about enough. I love that the HFPA recognized it.”

Ford, who was en route to New York on a plane when the nomination news broke, sent EW an email from 30,000 feet. “I am incredibly proud of this film and to be in the company of such accomplished directors and screenwriters is humbling,” he wrote. “I am also very happy that Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s work was recognized. I am very grateful as these nominations are also a testament to the brilliantly talented cast and crew who helped to bring Nocturnal Animals to life.”

Taylor-Johnson’s Golden Globe nomination is the first such major citation in the 26-year-old’s career. His previous nomination high-water mark had been at the British Independent Film Awards in 2009 for playing John Lennon in Nowhere Boy, where he missed out to Tom Hardy for Bronson. For the actor, the Golden Globe attention reminds him of what’s really important.

“This is a tremendous honor,” he says. “But the real beauty is that my life keeps keeps me humble and reminds me that I have a real job, which is being a parent. Even on mornings like this, my ego is kept firmly in place.”

Nocturnal Animals
  • Movie
  • 116 minutes

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