- Kristin Finan American-Statesman Staff
Hailee Steinfeld has accomplished quite a bit in her short career.
At 13, she landed the part of Mattie Ross in “True Grit,” a role that earned her a best supporting actress nomination at the 83rd Academy Awards. Since then, there have been more movies (“Pitch Perfect 2,” anyone?) and an explosive music career that includes the hit “Starving,” currently No. 14 and climbing on Billboard’s Top 100. The 19-year-old has even managed to cultivate a cadre of famous besties that includes none other than Taylor Swift herself.
Now, she’s starring as Nadine in Kelly Fremon Craig’s “The Edge of Seventeen,” which is already drawing comparisons to John Hughes’ coming-of-age classics.
We recently chatted with Steinfeld about life on the set of “Seventeen,” her sizzling music career and the things she wants her young fans to know most.
American-Statesman: What does this movie mean to you personally?
Hailee Steinfeld: This movie means a great deal to me. When I read the script I remember feeling like this character understood me. I have so much in common with her, and I really hope when people see this movie they’ll feel like they’re not alone and that they can see themselves in this character and call it their own.
What was it like working with a cast that included Woody Harrelson and Kyra Sedgwick?
It was really, truly amazing and so special. Everyone was so kind and respectful. It really was a seamless shoot. Everybody got along, everybody had the best time and was equally as passionate as the next person.
What are some of your favorite coming-of-age movies?
What comes to mind for whatever reason is “The Breakfast Club.” It’s called timeless for a reason. I’ll always remember watching it and feeling like this movie is really cool and super honest. “Mean Girls” is one of my favorite movies, and “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” and “Sixteen Candles,” to name a few.
Were you able to delve into some of your own experiences for your character, Nadine?
I was. I’ve been through so much of this. I was really able to pull from personal experiences and (what it’s like to) be a teenager.
What was your reaction the first time you read this script?
The script is so flawlessly written. We just had to take what was on the page and bring it to life. … Let the cameras roll and improvise and have fun and just come up with moments that turned out to be so magical. … I really do feel like this movie is something special. I’m very proud of it and hope everyone can find something they can identify with.
Your music career has really taken off in the past year. What has that been like?
That has been quite the experience. The amount that has happened in just a year on the music side of things has been really amazing, and I’m so happy that I get to do both. Making music has been part of my plan forever, and I’m so happy that I’m finally doing it.
What’s next for you?
There’s always something next. Right now I’m just focusing on getting this movie out and working on my debut album.
You have so many young female fans. What do you want them to know?
I think it’s important to realize your inner strength and your inner beauty before you take anyone else’s opinion into consideration or into thought. Right now we’re sort of open to so much judgment, whether through social media or being in school or at your job — wherever you are, it’s kind of everywhere. As long as you realize that you have this inner strength and inner beauty that you’re aware of, nothing anyone else is going to say is going to matter or should matter.