Joe Alwyn opens up about the existential bizarreness of being Taylor Swift’s ex

"You have something very real suddenly thrown into a very unreal space," Alwyn said, opening up for the first time about his 2023 break-up with Swift

Joe Alwyn opens up about the existential bizarreness of being Taylor Swift’s ex
Taylor Swift and Joe Alwyn in 2019 Photo: Robert Kamau/GC Images

Most of us, at some point or another, have suffered through the slow, painful ending of a long-term romantic relationship, the gradual grinding down of what was into what’s left, with nothing for it in the aftermath but to pick up your personal pieces and grimly soldier on. A comparatively much smaller number of us, though, have then had to watch songs that are (allegedly) about said break-up smash Spotify records into tiny little pieces—or watch their ex’s next relationship became a major part of the post-season advertising strategy for NBC Sports. And so it’s genuinely, undeniably fascinating to hear actor Joe Alwyn open up, just a little, about his 2023 break-up with pop star Taylor Swift.

To be clear, Alwyn—who’s on the promo tour for Yorgos Lanthimos’ Kinds Of Kindness, his second collaboration with the Poor Things director—has never been very vocal about his 6.5 year relationship with Swift, because Jesus Christ, why would you. But he couldn’t completely dodge the obvious questions during a recent Sunday Style Times interview (via Variety), acknowledging the surreal nature of being half of a break-up that was treated as actual international news. “I would hope that anyone and everyone can empathize and understand the difficulties that come with the end of a long, loving, fully committed relationship of over six and a half years,” Alwyn notes. “That is a hard thing to navigate. What is unusual and abnormal in this situation is that, one week later, it’s suddenly in the public domain and the outside world is able to weigh in… You have something very real suddenly thrown into a very unreal space: tabloids, social media, press, where it is then dissected, speculated on, pulled out of shape beyond recognition. And the truth is, to that last point, there is always going to be a gap between what is known and what is said.”

Alwyn says he’s made his peace with the phenomenon—which doesn’t mean he’s interesting in going line by line through Swift’s recent Tortured Poets Department (allegedly named in reference to a shared group chat Alwyn has with actors Paul Mescal and Andrew Scott) to discuss which lyrics are about him. (In fact, he apparently dodged a question outright about whether he’s listened to the album at all, denying the world his own take on whether Charlie Puth should be a bigger artist.) “I’m sure you can appreciate, given the level of noise and scrutiny about my past relationship,” Alwyn said, “Why I wouldn’t want to just open the door to things like that right now.”

Kinds Of Kindness opens in theaters in the U.S. on June 21. Taylor Swift, meanwhile, is everywhere, everywhen. You will not escape her shadow; we do not recommend you try.

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