As one of the most famous people in the world, it would appear that Taylor Swift ‘s potential dating pool is made up almost entirely of men less famous than she is.
But in recent years, she’s been skimming mainly from the top: Oscar-nominated actor. Lad band heartthrob. EDM superstar. The Internet’s boyfriend.
Most of them guys who would be just as gawked at—if not entirely mobbed—on their own as they would picturesquely strolling along with Taylor Swift. Not since 2013 has she even been merely linked to someone who hadn’t yet made an indelible mark on pop culture.
Yet while lying low after a roller-coaster 2016, taking some time off to dig deep for her next album and her own piece of mind, she happened to find someone whose reputation has not preceded him for a change.
We hope Joe Alwyn enjoyed his relative anonymity while it lasted.
Not that Alwyn is a civilian or anything.
The 26-year-old English actor made his feature-film debut last year as the titular character in Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, directed by Ang Lee and co-starring a list of heavies including Kristen Stewart, Garrett Hedlund, Vin Diesel and Steve Martin. Reviews were harsh, but that had nothing to do with Alwyn (London’s Telegraph called him “promising”). Earlier this year he had a pivotal role in A Sense of an Ending, and next up he’s starring with Emma Stonein the period drama The Favourite.
A very humble Alwyn described the improbability of landing the role of Billy to Indiewire in November: “I was not a name, I was not a face, I was not going to finance a movie, no one was going to come and pay tickets to see me.”
But while the classically trained thespian was steadily making a name for himself in actors’ circles, he met Taylor Swift, and now he’s been the subject of more headlines in the last 24 hours than he was previously in his entire career.
Ironically, though Alwyn is already at the very least a footnote in the Book of Taylor and could end up being more, this as-yet secretive brand of romance is a new twist in the Swift story—and it was a good move.
Getty Images; Richard Young/Rex Features/startraksphoto.com / E! Illustration
Understandably not wanting to begin this relationship in the same fashion with which Hiddleswift burst onto the scene last year, a supposedly intimate moment splashed all over the cover of The Sun in the U.K., she has been incredibly conscientious about keeping this under wraps.
Oh, to be sure, Taylor made the cover of The Sun today, but because of the lengths she and Alwyn have gone to stay out of sight, the tabloid only has an old solo photo of Swift to show for the caption “Taylor’s Secret Brit Love.”
That’s right, there’s been nary a sighting of the duo thanks to her careful planning.
“Taylor and Joe have really tried to be on lockdown,” a source explained to E! News, “and have spent most of their time together in private locations where they could get to know each other without the pressure of a public relationship and people making judgement calls.”
Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images
We were told last summer that Swift’s whirlwind romance with Tom Hiddlestonended because he wanted their relationship to be way more public than she did—a revelation that initially sounded suspect, but upon further reflection made sense, seeing how she had recently broken up with Calvin Harris and was in between albums and had no need to do press.
So, perhaps this time around she wanted to make sure things got off on the proper foot—i.e. actually quietly—from the start.
While the details of how these two got together subsequently remain for the telling, a sighting of Swift at a low-key Hollywood screening of Billy’s Long Halftime Walk with her mom and two of the Haim sisters in November now seems rather poignant.
“From the first reading, from halfway in the first scene, there’s no doubt, he’s top-notch talent,” Ang Lee also told Indiewire about casting his leading man. “I was worried: Is he too handsome? But then his face is so compelling, it doesn’t matter.”
We know of at least one very discerning thumbs-up.
Someone newer to the Hollywood scene—Alwyn’s first trip to the U.S. was to read for Lee—let alone someone who has operated in an entirely different sphere than Swift must be a nice change as well from the type of guy who comes with a horde of his own extremely judgmental fans. (Though surely the Alwynites will make themselves known at some point…)
If Taylor and Joe keep dating, the pictures will pop up eventually. But if Swift is serious about him, look for a new type of love story to unfold this time.