'People are angry about Sam and Aaron Taylor-Johnson because they can't understand it.'

Actor Aaron Taylor-Johnson has appeared on the cover of Esquire in a series of photos that can only be accurately described as absolutely filthy. There is mud, there are extremely cut abs, and as a result of the aforementioned mud and abs, there is a lot of barely concealed horniness floating around on the internet this week.

The accompanying interview announces that it's "Aaron Taylor-Johnson season" and focuses intensely on the bizarrely successful streak he's on at the moment. Taylor-Johnson has just come off the back of filming Kraven (based on the cartoon character Kraven the Hunter), Nosferatu (a Robert Eggers horror featuring Bill Skarsgård and Anja Taylor-Joy) and The Fall Guy (the Ryan Gosling-led project that famously shut down Sydney Harbour Bridge earlier this year).


All of these films will be released in 2024 and Taylor-Johnson remarks in the interview had a day's rest between each shoot.

Besides delving into the wild hot hand that the actor is playing with at the moment, the Esquire interviewer also prodded Taylor-Johnson repeatedly about rumours that he's the current frontrunner to succeed Daniel Craig as James Bond (to little avail). Henry Cavill, Regé-Jean Page, and Happy Valley's James Norton are apparently all in the running, too.

Listen to The Spill discuss Hollywood age gaps below. Article continues after podcast. 

All of this is interesting – but what is really interesting and has continued to capture a ridiculous amount of attention is Taylor-Johnson's personal life, a topic that he's notably guarded about in this interview. The interviewer, Alex Pappademas, notes that "Taylor-Johnson will talk about his family, but when I touch on his relationship, it's like a silent alarm goes off."

He's famously married to director and artist Sam Taylor-Johnson, who directed him in his first major leading role as John Lennon in the 2009 film Nowhere Boy

Aaron was 19 years old at the time. Sam was 42 – and they were engaged about a year after meeting. They have now been married for more than a decade and have four daughters, including two that Sam shares with her ex-husband.


Sam has been derided consistently in the UK press for her relationship with Aaron, with headlines dubbing the actor her 'toyboy lover'. The relationship has also been a source of ongoing controversy online and fans of Aaron's become heated about Sam, with the (baseless) accusation of her being a "groomer" being one of the main barbs, besides a lot of plainly ageist and sexist commentary.

There are also rumours that Sam was a family friend of Aaron's and met him as a child, but they don't seem to come with any amount of evidence or confirmation from the couple.  

The rage about their marriage only seems to heighten with Taylor-Johnson's continued Hollywood success. Earlier this year a (totally unsubstantiated) rumour swept the internet that the actor had cheated on his wife with his co-star from the 2022 movie Bullet Train, Joey King. Scores of people online were cheering in hopes that it was true and the actor was set to be divorced from Sam.


After a while, it became clear that the rumour, which had started on a TikTok gossip account, was little more than, well... a rumour that had started on a TikTok gossip account. 

The irony that King is about a decade younger than Taylor-Johnson also seemed to be lost on fans.


While the relationship is certainly unusual (and yes, photos of the couple holding onto one another in their earliest years may be jarring to some), so much of the anger around it has, much like any other debate on the internet, totally lost nuance. The truth is that there are no clear answers here – and maybe that's what gets audiences so riled up.

Whatever your opinion on the Taylor-Johnsons as a couple (and mine personally is, whatever – it's odd but have you ever met people who work in the film industry? They're not normal people...), there's a whole range of equally baffling questions that you have to try to answer for yourself.

Is their age difference different because the woman is the older partner? 

Was there a distinct power imbalance between the two when they met? 

Are people just mad because Aaron is very, very hot? 

And even once we've collectively mulled over these questions, we also ultimately have to reckon with the following: our answers don't actually matter. 


The Taylor-Johnsons have maintained relative calm in the face of all the furore and honestly, they seem happy. There have certainly been teeth-grittingly awkward moments, like when Sam told the Sunday Times that Aaron has an "old soul" – a term that was creepingly reminiscent of what older men occasionally say about much younger female partners. 

But overall, their marriage seems deeply successful (being married for more than a decade in Hollywood is like 30 real-person years).

The ongoing ferocity over Aaron's relationship is likely only going to intensify as his success grows, but it's worth noting that we've never had a particularly clear stance on what any of these vast age differences mean in Hollywood. 

Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas seem extremely functional despite their 25-year age difference. Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Jason Statham have a 20-year age difference that seems to go relatively unnoticed because Statham looks appallingly good for 56.

And perhaps most stunningly of all, Leonardo DiCaprio – a 48-year-old man who has become a meme for his tendency to date women in their early 20s – will absolutely continue to date women in their early 20s, no matter how old he gets.

Maybe a stable marriage with children involving two highly successful adults isn't all that interesting after all. 

Elfy Scott is an executive editor at Mamamia. 

Image: Getty. 

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