English actor Aaron Taylor-Johnson won a Golden Globe for Best Performance in a Supporting Role Sunday night for his performance in Nocturnal Animals. He portrayed the terrifying gang leader Ray Marcus alongside costars Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhall, and Michael Shannon. The role marked a distinct shift from the kinds of characters Taylor-Johnson is used to playing. Indeed, Aaron is accustomed to portraying heroes who battle dark forces in films like Kick-Ass, Avengers: Age of Ultron, and Godzilla.

While accepting the award, the 26-year-old star said, “Creating this role and collaborating on this journey was an immense joy…I enjoyed every second of it.” He previously described preparing for the nightmarish part, saying, “It was very disturbing, and the process was pretty grueling three months before shooting.”

To transform into the Texan villain, he utilized a dialect coach, researched serial killers like Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer, and studied documentaries on psychopaths and murderers for their mannerisms. He noticed that many serial killers had a certain charisma, and he wanted to cultivate that in his character. Aaron grew his hair and fingernails out and lost weight. All the while, he smoked and drank “to feel toxic from the inside out,” and hoped it would show on his complexion–and even his scent.

When first offered the role, Aaron initially paused knowing he’d need to commit to the pursuit of this dark material. After all, he is the father of four young girls along with his wife, director Sam Taylor-Johnson. When he accepted the challenge and started the three months of preparation, he simultaneously took care of his kids; when they were at school or asleep, he delved into the disturbing research. Over time, Aaron developed trouble falling asleep and, at least to some degree, came to feel like a nocturnal animal himself. While shooting the movie, he avoided going home to his four daughters to protect them from seeing their daddy with a frightening appearance and “that kind of aura,” as he described it.

Taylor-Johnson collaborated with director Tom Ford to create the “bold, charismatic, magnetic, and unpredictable” character. Aaron committed to giving  Ford a variety of options while filming. “We were improvising and being pushed to the limit,” he said. While watching the film for the first time, he was stunned to discover he didn’t even remember speaking half the dialogue he saw onscreen. He revealed, “That was quite daunting and kind of disturbing, but also great really. Essentially that I was shocked meant that we really documented something that was like an out-of-body experience.”

During his acceptance speech, Aaron announced, “What a tremendous honor,” and thanking director Ford as well as his costars. He also made a point to thank his wife saying, “Thank you for putting up with me. I was not very pleasant, in this role. You’re my soulmate. I love you very much.”

This victory represents Taylor-Johnson’s first Golden Globe win and nomination. You can see a full list of the Golden Globe winners here.

Have you ever played a character that made you not the nicest person to be around?

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