• or at home with her husband, actor Aaron Taylor-Johnson, and her children is evident. “You're sure it doesn't look caked on?” she enquires of her makeup, concern bruising the bright blue eyes that seem to take up half her face. But it's precisely her lack of pretension, her prioritizing of intelligence, hard work and talent over connections and appearances, that has made Taylor-Johnson the force she is.

    Mother to four daughters, Angelica, 15, Jessie, six, Wylda, two, and Romy, one, Taylor-Johnson was awarded an OBE in 2011 for services to the arts. Nominated for the Turner Prize in 1998, she is one of the most important contemporary female artists working today. Her first feature film, Nowhere Boy (which she fought hard to be chosen for), received four BAFTA nominations, and introduced her to her now husband who took the movie's starring role – the 23-year age gap between the two (he is 22) generating headlines and a great

    “When I had Angelica, I TRIED to do it all and it was too much. I gave up a lot to try to prove I could be everything”

    deal of envy. But perhaps it was her dignified divorce, from art dealer Jay Jopling in 2008, and two battles with cancer (colon then breast), both in her early thirties, that really marked her out as someone to be reckoned with, someone to be admired, someone with spirit.

    Her children got her through that ordeal, she tells me later, once the props have been packed away and the sun is setting on the Hudson. “Having children has given me that sense of, 'I have to get through whatever challenges I face, because there's no option',” she explains. “People say, 'Oh, you're a survivor, you must be so strong,' but there are definitely times when you don't feel so strong. And, really, family is what kept me going.”

    Shirt and skirt by Stella McCartney; earrings by Ileana Makri; necklace by Diane Kordas

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