The Life and Career of Aaron Taylor-Johnson

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American nuclear weapons testing results in the creation of a giant radioactive monster called Godzilla, a seemingly unstoppable, dinosaur-like beast awakened from its slumber to wreak destruction on its creators. How can this monster be stopped?
Photo Credit: Warner Bros.
May 15th, 2014

Born in England, Aaron Taylor-Johnson is a stage, film and TV actor. After starring in many different television shows as a child, he went on to appear as John Lennon and played the lead character in "Kick Ass."

Aaron Taylor-Johnson was born Aaron Perry Johnson on June 13, 1990, in Holmer Green, a hamlet in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, England. His mother was a housewife and his father a civil engineer. Johnson once told Globe & Mail, "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." His escape turned out to be acting.

As a child, Johnson attended the Jackie Palmer Stage School in High Wycombe and started acting at the age of 6. From 1996 until 2008, he studied drama, tap, jazz, acrobatics and singing at the performing arts school. His first major role as a child was the role of Prosper, the lead in "The Thief Lord." By age 8, he was the lead in "Macbeth," and had made his film debut in 2002's "Tom & Thomas" with Sean Bean. He also played in 2002's "The Apocalypse," and, in 2003, he appeared in "Shanghai Knights," in which he played a young street rat who becomes screen legend Charlie Chaplin, and "Behind Closed Doors." By 2004, Johnson had a regular part in the BBC-TV series "Feather Boy," based on a book of the same name. The supernatural drama featured Johnson as a school bully who tortures a fellow classmate with haunting dreams. That same year, he played George in the film "Dead Cool."

In 2006, Johnson starred in "The Thief Lord," based on the book by Cornelia Funke, as well as "Fast Learners" and "The Best Man." That same year he landed a role in the film "The Illusionist" as Wisenheim, appearing in various flashbacks of Edward Norton's character. Because his scenes show the young Eduard learning magic for the first time, Johnson actually learned to perform the ball trick his character performs in the film.

Television held the majority of Johnson's time from 2007 to 2008. He played a young student who becomes romantically involved with a teacher in the adult-minded ITV drama "Talk to Me," and worked on the teen drama "Nearly Famous, playing a talented musician with a troubled past. Both projects helped catapult him to teen idol status. Later, he landed a role in the British teen comedy "Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging" in 2008. Johnson got the starring role in "Nowhere Boy" in 2009, and his performance earned him a British Independent Film Award nomination.

Johnson starred opposite Nicolas Cage in "Kick-Ass," based on the Mark Millar comic, in 2010 as a student who decides to become a superhero; he later starred in the sequel, "Kick-Ass 2," in 2013. The film was a hit, thanks to viral advertising and word of mouth, putting Johnson on the map. That same year, Johnson was announced as the lead in Hideo Nakata's thriller, "Chatroom," which was to be screened in the Un Certain Regard portion of the 2010 Cannes Film Festival. He then starred in the 2011 historical film "Albert Nobbs," followed by Oliver Stone's "Savages" alongside Taylor Kitsch, Blake Lively, Benicio Del Toro and Salma Hayek, and the film adaptation of "Anna Karenina" in 2012. In 2011,  he was also nominated for the BAFTA Awards' Rising Star Award. Johnson makes a cameo in the 2014 film "Captain America: Winter Soldier" as Pietro Maximoff, also known as Quicksilver.

Johnson stars in the 2014 "Godzilla" remake, and will reprise his role of Quicksilver in 2015's sequel to "The Avengers," "Avengers: Age of Ultron." Both films reunite him with Elizabeth Olsen, who plays his wife in the former and his twin sister in the latter.

While starring in "Nowhere Boy," a film about John Lennon, Johnson began a relationship with his director, Sam Taylor-Wood, an artist who is 23 years his senior. They announced their engagement at the premiere of the movie in 2009, and soon after had two daughters: Wylda, born in July 2010, and Romy, born in January 2012. The couple married in July 2012, and Johnson adopted his wife's maiden name as his professional name to become Taylor-Johnson. He is also the stepfather of Taylor-Wood's two older children.

As an English actor whose professional work includes performances on stage, television, and in feature films, Aaron Taylor-Johnson has made an impression on audiences all over the world with many memorable performances in different genres. From heartthrob to action star, Johnson has earned his spot among the Hollywood elites.