How Thomasin McKenzie Brings the Darkness in ‘Last Night in Soho’

She tells us how her troubled heroine in Edgar Wright's film is inspired by Rooney Mara in 'The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.'

'Last Night in Soho' Thomasin McKenzie
Courtesy of Focus Features

In Edgar Wright’s Last Night in Soho, Thomasin McKenzie is the true vehicle for the psychological horror at the heart of its story. Yes, the film wears its genre influences on its sleeve, from hallucinatory thrillers like Repulsion to giallo touchstones like Blood and Black Lace. But it’s McKenzie’s performance as Eloise Turner—a shy, aspiring fashion designer whose obsession with the Swinging Sixties devolves into a waking nightmare—that drives the film’s descent into darkness.

In real life, I don’t think I’m very far from Ellie,” McKenzie tells Dread Central. “I’m quite awkward and shy and sometimes a bit out of the loop.”

In the film, Eloise is supernaturally transported to ’60s London and psychically linked with a young singer named Sandie (Anya Taylor-Joy). The two women become mirror images of one another, and Eloise’s awkwardness evaporates as she follows Sandie’s every move, living vicariously through her adventures from a bygone era.

Brody LastNightinSoho 1024x683 - How Thomasin McKenzie Brings the Darkness in 'Last Night in Soho'
Thomasin McKenzie as Eloise (R) and Anya-Taylor Joy as Sandie (L) in Last Night in Soho. Photograph by Parisa Taghizadeh, courtesy of Focus Features

Also Read: Ghosts, Murder, and Identity in Last Night in Soho

Through Eloise’s eyes, Sandie’s life first seems charmed and full of promise, but she soon discovers that it’s sullied by the scarier, seedier side of London’s red-light district. While bringing her own personality to the role of Eloise came naturally to McKenzie, the actor says that she needed to draw from other sources when Last Night in Soho takes this darker turn.

“I watched The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo in preparation for Last Night in Soho and drew a lot of inspiration from Rooney Mara’s performance in that,” McKenzie says. “There’s a lot of darkness in Ellie and there’s a lot of darkness in Rooney’s character. There’s also a lot of anger in both characters. Ellie lost her mom at a young age, and she’s also angry at what was happening with Sandie and the horrible things that she was going through. And Rooney’s character also had a lot of anger, based on the situations she went through.”

McKenzie believes that the horror of Last Night in Soho shines through most in Eloise’s character arc. “We see a lot of that in what she’s going through as the film gets crazier and crazier,” she explains. “I had to completely believe in Ellie and in her experience, because so many people around her in the movie don’t believe her. We all have our own struggles, so I integrated my own into her life—just being as empathetic and understanding with her as possible.”

Last Night in Soho is now available to stream on Apple TV, Microsoft Movies, Prime Video, Vudu, and YouTube, courtesy of Focus Features.