Taylor Swift wrote ‘Mastermind’ after watching Paul Thomas Anderson’s ‘Phantom Thread’

Taylor Swift has revealed that her ‘Midnights’ cut ‘Mastermind’ was inspired by Paul Thomas Anderson’s ‘Phantom Thread’

The pop juggernaut spoke with TIME magazine, in a career-spanning piece in honour of her being named “Person of the Year”, which details her artistic journey from being rejected as a support act for Kenny Chesney at 17, to her current phase performing on the ‘Eras’ tour and releasing its subsequent film.

Towards the end of the article, Swift’s ability to use personal experiences as source material for her acclaimed songwriting was highlighted, with ‘Midnights’ cut ‘Mastermind’ singled out as evidence.


Swift then told the interviewer that she was inspired to write the song after watching Paul Thomas Anderson’s Daniel Day-Lewis-starring film, ‘Phantom Thread’, being particularly inspired by its twist ending. “Remember that last scene?” she said. “I thought, wouldn’t it be fun to have a lyric about being calculated?” She pauses. “It’s something that’s been thrown at me like a dagger, but now I take it as a compliment.”

Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift. Credit: Buda Mendes/Getty

Elsewhere in the piece, Swift spoke on various other subjects, including the strict regimen she followed while on the ‘Eras’ tour, wherein she performed a three-hour set consisting of over 40 songs, costume changes and choreography. Speaking about how she spent rest days, she stated: “I do not leave my bed except to get food and take it back to my bed and eat it there. I can barely speak because I’ve been singing for three shows straight. Every time I take a step my feet go crunch, crunch, crunch from dancing in heels.”

Adding that she continues her workout regime between shows, she continued: “I know I’m going on that stage whether I’m sick, injured, heartbroken, uncomfortable, or stressed. That’s part of my identity as a human being now. If someone buys a ticket to my show, I’m going to play it unless we have some sort of force majeure.”

She also spoke in detail about the various circumstances that have served as career setbacks over the years, including Kanye West’s interruption of Swift’s acceptance speech at the 2009 VMAs and Scott Borchetta’s transfer of ownership over her masters to Scooter Braun. The latter not only pushed Swift to record her pared-down duo of albums ‘Folklore’ and ‘Evermore’, but also inspired her to re-record her albums, to which she expressed: “It’s all in how you deal with loss. I respond to extreme pain with defiance.”

In response to Swift being named TIME’s Person of the Year, Elon Musk congratulated her while  jokingly warning that her popularity could drop after receiving the honour. “Some risk of popularity decline after this award,” Musk wrote in a post on X. “I speak from experience lol.”