Aaron Taylor-Johnson wears many hats. The 32-year-old is an actor (since he was six years old), a father and husband, an occasional model, and he comes in a thirsty new Calvin Klein Campaign for Spring 2023.
There’s a good ten or so minutes where the connection between my end in New York and his end in London is off. His voice is crackly and distorted, and we try to power through before Taylor-Johnson devises a quick solution: He hops off the conference platform, reconnects via a phone call, and is back in the game. “Is this any better?” he asks. It’s a thousand times better.
I’ve caught Taylor-Johnson in a time that he describes as “busy.” The week before, he was in Australia, where he’s been since the beginning of the year, finishing up shoots on The Fall Guy. Now, he’s just touched down in London, where he’s doing additional shoots on Kraven the Hunter before heading out to Prague to shoot Nosferatu. Between all of this, he’s making his debut in a Calvin Klein campaign for the brand’s spring 2023 collection, sporting jaw-grazing hair, boxer briefs, a denim jacket (sans shirt), and snazzy jeans—all with the kind of energetic magnetism that translates seamlessly from the big screen.
Kraven the Hunter doesn’t take place in the main continuity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but rather a separate series of films which exist primarily for reasons of character copyright. Kraven the Hunter will follow Venom, Venom: Let There Be Carnage and Morbius in Columbia Pictures and Sony Entertainment’s sequence of movies based on Spider-Man villains.
In his comic book origin story, Kraven starts out as Sergei Kravinoff, the world’s greatest big game hunter who comes to think of Spider-Man as his ultimate quarry. However, in this new movie, Taylor-Johnson has said that Kraven’s character has been reinterpreted to be more of “an animal lover and a protector of the natural world.”
One aspect of Kraven that has definitely made it into the movie is his physically formidable bearing: in the comics, he is swole as hell, and Taylor-Johnson has been putting in the work to build that muscular physique—which he just showed off in a new ad campaign for Calvin Klein, which sees him strip to the waist.
Somewhat predictably, Twitter’s response to the new spot was thirsty as hell. Looks like people will be seated and cravin’ Kraven by the time that movie is released later this year.
Calvin Klein Spring 2023 Campaign shooting by Mert & Marcus
“I felt absolutely honored and flattered to have been invited to be a part of Calvin Klein’s men’s underwear,” he says. “I felt incredibly safe in the hands of Mert [Alas] and Marcus [Piggott], who I think are equally iconic photographers.”
The campaign is definitively stripped-back: no frills, no props, no color, even. Alongside fellow Calvin Klein ambassadors Michael B. Jordan, FKA Twigs, Kendall Jenner, and JENNIE, Taylor-Johnson is expressive and acrobatic; on his knees in one shot, standing tall in the next, a statue caught in contrapposto.
“I was almost taking that vulnerability and putting it into confidence,” he says. “It was great fun. I think there’s a level of nerves and expectations when you’re going to be photographed in your underwear, but quite honestly, I’ve only ever worn Calvins, so I just felt honored and thrilled to be part of it.”
Calvin Klein, a brand iconic in its simplicity, its minimalism, its timeless style, is a naturalfit for Taylor-Johnson. In the same way that—and bear with this metaphor—underwear are the foundation upon which an outfit is built, Taylor-Johnson’s adaptability, his readiness to step into any role and play any character, is the heart and soul of his career. He describes his own style as “classic”: a pair of jeans, a nice white tee, and boots. Something versatile. Something comfortable. Something that is reliably unchanging.
“I definitely feel like I’m someone who can express myself better in movement than I can in words, which is why I feel more comfortable as a performer.”Aaron Taylor-Johnson
Things like dance bring him confidence; he finds himself drawn to nature, tells me he finds inspiration from being immersed in it as much as possible, and has taken an interest in regenerative farming and rewilding.
“The lessons you get from just seeing nature just do its thing—it’s really just this sitting back and observing situation, watching and listening and learning and wanting to evolve and grow,” he says. At this point, more than any other, I find myself glad Taylor-Johnson was able to play IT guy and fix the audio at the beginning of our call—the profound passion wouldn’t have been so palpable in his voice otherwise.
“I’m excited by many things, by many people around me,” he says. “But when you’re starting to observe more is when you can really have a chance to…grow.”
Shop Calvin Klein.
Photography Mert & Marcus
Mert Alas @mertalas
Marcus Piggott @macpiggott
Talent Aaron Taylor-Johnson @aarontaylorjohnson
Creative Cédric Murac @cedrimurac
Styling Mel Ottenberg @melzy917
Yowsa, first Michael B. Jordan and now Aaron Taylor-Johnson. I really like the direction that Calvin Klein is going in with these hunky brand ambassador. I have been a fan of Aaron Taylor Johnson ever since he was on the cover of Men’s Health. He is my man crush everyday and what a ripped zaddy 😍
A talented actor with beautiful eyes and an amazingly fit body. He’s a keeper.