Joe Alwyn and Taylor Swift have spent the past five or so years establishing themselves as one of the most private couples in the public eye. The former has fielded countless questions about what it’s like to date one of the world’s most famous pop stars throughout his own rise to fame in Hollywood, and there was never any chance that he was going to get through the press tour of his latest project, Hulu’s second adaptation of a Sally Rooney novel, Conversations With Friends, without an interviewer probing him about their relationship. But the 31-year-old actor is optimistic that that won’t be the case going forward. Somehow, he envisions a world in which the fact that he and Swift are dating will simply get old.
“I think because the precedent was set—that our choice is to be private and not feed that side of things—the more you do that, hopefully, the more that intrusiveness or intrigue drops off,” Alwyn told GQ Hype in its magazine’s latest cover story. It’s about time he admitted that he and Swift haven’t had the easiest time keeping things on the down low. Maybe it’s the recent flurry of engagement rumors—which he has yet to confirm or deny—that’s made Alwyn change his tune. In 2019, more than two years into their relationship, he told Mr. porter’s The Look magazine that he didn’t feel they had to fight for their privacy. “I don’t think more than anyone else,” he said at the time “I don’t think anyone you meet on the streets would just spill their guts out to you, therefore why should I? And then that is defined as being ‘strangely private.’ fine. But I don’t think it is. I think it’s normal.”
The more time wears on, though, the more Alwyn has grown comfortable with one aspect of their relationship: the fact that he is indeed William Bowery, a songwriter whom Swift credited on her hit album folklore. (He derived the pseudonym from the names of his great-grandfather and a favorite neighborhood in New York.) “It was really the most accidental thing to happen in lockdown,” Alwyn said of writing the melody and first verse of “Exile,” Bon Iver featuring a Grammy Award-nominated track. “It was just messing around on a piano and singing badly and being overheard and then thinking, you know, what if we tried to get to the end of it together?” His initial reluctance to admit his participation again goes back to privacy. “The idea was that people would just listen to the music rather than focus on the fact that we wrote it together,” Alwyn continued. Perhaps that’s part of why they did n’t share all of the collaboration: “Jesus, there’s probably a voice note somewhere that should be burned,” he said of a version of the song featuring his voice.
Don’t think Alwyn isn’t aware of how he comes off when doing press—and he’s been doing plenty of it lately in the lead-up to Conversations With Friends‘s May 15 premiere. “I don’t think I don’t enjoy interviews,” he told Vulture in an interview published the same day as his GQ feature. “I think I have seemed guarded.” Case in point: He’s sticking to the same script when it comes to those engagement rumors. “The truth is, if I had a pound coin for every time someone told me I’ve been engaged or I’m getting engaged, I would have a lot of pound coins,” he said. “If the answer was yes, I wouldn’t say. If the answer is no, I wouldn’t say.” The interviewer wasn’t the first to ask, Alwyn acknowledged. And despite his best efforts, even he seems to have accepted that they wo n’t be the last.