En­der’s Game star Hailee Ste­in­feld tells Tara Brady about act­ing in the big league,

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FRONT PAGE -

an hon­our.”

It must be daunt­ing to be the only young per­son about the place.

“I was the only kid on set in True Grit,” she laughs. “That’s if you don’t count Jeff Bridges and Josh Brolin and Matt Da­mon. They are all big kids.”

Not sur­pris­ingly, the young Os­car nom­i­nee was soon in much de­mand. She trav­elled to Italy to play the fe­male lead in the re­cently re­leased ver­sion of Romeo and Juliet. She has a sig­nif­i­cant role op­po­site Keira Knight­ley in Can a Song Save Your Life?, the lat­est film from our own John Car­ney, di­rec­tor of Once. And she has re­cently fin­ished shoot­ing Tommy Lee Jones’s western The Homes­man, op­po­site Meryl Streep and Hi­lary Swank.

It would be crazy to sug­gest that any­body should feel sorry for her. There are worse ways of spend­ing your teenage years than

“I get starstruck all the time. I did that film with Tommy Lee Jones and Meryl Streep and I re­mem­ber think­ing: ‘I can’t do this. This is crazy’

shar­ing on­set cater­ing with Meryl Streep. But suc­cess­ful young ac­tors do al­ways end up sac­ri­fic­ing some of the ev­ery­day plea­sures of youth. It is, per­haps, for this rea­son that ac­tors such as Claire Danes and Ju­lia Stiles fol­lowed Jodie Fos­ter’s ex­am­ple and took a univer­sity de­gree. That way, they get to en­joy a mod­icum of nor­mal­ity as young adults.

“The job does get in the way of nor­mal teen things,” Ste­in­feld says. “The prom and home­com­ing are things that hap­pen when I’m out of town. And I am home-schooled. Bit I like to think that I’ve had ex­pe­ri­ences that stand in for those things. And I have a re­ally great group of friends that are just a phone call away. I’ve never missed out on any­thing big enough to get in the way of en­joy­ing what I was then do­ing.”

When you read how rig­or­ously she has an­a­lysed the dy­namic of her life, you can eas­ily for­get that she is still just 16. At that age, many of us were still get­ting are heads stuck in the ban­is­ters. Then again, she is con­stantly sur­rounded by in­dus­try vet­er­ans. Ford, Kings­ley and Vi­ola Davis were all at her el­bow in En­der’s Game. Ad­vice from wise old heads has, one imag­ines, not been in short sup­ply.

“I felt that start­ing out with True Grit,” she says. “I’ve been sur­rounded by peo­ple who have been do­ing this for­ever. And from that I see peo­ple who come to work, who do that work and who, at the end of the day, go home to be with their fam­ily. And that’s how I look at it.”

How ter­ri­fy­ingly sen­si­ble she seems. She will surely cope with the new chal­lenges that En­der’s Game brings. It’s not just that the film is a big, green-screen epic – though it cer­tainly is that – there’s also the fact that the En­der books have an enor­mous fol­low­ing (not­with­stand­ing Mr Scott Card’s no­to­ri­ously neg­a­tive views on mar­riage equal­ity). Ste­in­feld plays one of sev­eral young peo­ple re­cruited to help de­fend the Earth from at­tack by gi­ant in­sects in hurtling space­craft. Just wait for the online chat­ter to be­gin.

“Since I shot my first film, I ap­pre­ci­ate cin­ema as an art more,” she says. “When you un­der­stand the num­ber of peo­ple in­volved and the amount of ef­fort that goes in from all de­part­ments across a shoot, you see film dif­fer­ently. You ap­pre­ci­ate the work more. Yes, En­der’s Game was on a much big­ger scale. I’ve never been in­volved with any­thing like this. It’s a film that comes with a ready-made fan base, but you also want to in­tro­duce the ma­te­rial to peo­ple who don’t know the books.”

Has she got over the ex­cite­ment of meet­ing ma­g­a­s­tars? Surely, all that must seem com­mon­place now.

“Oh I get starstruck all the time,” she says. “I get tremen­dously ner­vous. I did that film with Tommy Lee Jones and Meryl Streep and I re­mem­ber think­ing: ‘I can’t do this. This is crazy’. I never thought I’d en­counter peo­ple like them.”

Such are the va­garies of the film busi­ness that we have seen lit­tle of what Ste­in­feld has shot since True Grit. Romeo and Juliet opened rather qui­etly ear­lier this month. Can a Song Save Your Life? re­ceived good re­views at the Toronto Film Fes­ti­val, but will not be re­leased here un­til well into 2014. There is ev­ery pos­si­bil­ity that The Homes­man might get de­layed un­til next year’s Os­car sea­son. But it’s clear that Ste­in­feld has man­aged to at­tack an im­pres­sive va­ri­ety of work.

“This was only my third film,” she ex­plains. “And with True Grit and Romeo and Juliet, which are two pe­riod pieces, you’re taught to take ad­van­tage of the props and pe­riod de­tails you have around you. But I was re­ally forced to use my imag­i­na­tion here. And it was quite an in­ter­est­ing way of work­ing, be­cause I’d never done any­thing like it be­fore.”

And she is sud­denly flung into some proper ac­tion se­quences in En­der’s Game. The film is not short of dan­ger­ous-look­ing stunts.

“Oh this re­quired far more phys­i­cal prepa­ra­tion than any­thing I’ve ever done,” she agrees. “It helped that my dad does what he does and that I love be­ing out­side and be­ing sporty. My par­ents and my brother are so sup­port­ive. They’ve sac­ri­ficed so much for me to be where I am. They’ve never re­ally given me a hard time about any­thing ac­tu­ally.”

Well, that’s nice. The oc­ca­sional twerk-storm noted, we prob­a­bly shouldn’t worry quite so much about child stars th­ese days. Our screens are now alive with folk such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Anne Hath­away, Claire Danes and Ryan Gosling who suc­cess­fully (and largely pain­lessly) made the jump from ju­ve­nile roles to grown-up star­dom. Still, I can’t help won­der­ing if she gets to lis­ten to pop mu­sic and gen­er­ally be­have like a young fool.

“I lis­ten to ev­ery­thing,” she says. “My brother plays clas­sic rock. I like Bruno Mars. I’ve al­ways loved Bruno.”

Get that “al­ways”. I sup­pose Mr Mars would seem to have been around for­ever if you were just 16. Noth­ing seems to shake Ste­in­feld’s façade of bal­ance and nor­mal­ity. Just con­sider that com­ment she made ear­lier about ac­tors leav­ing the set and re­turn­ing to the bo­som of a av­er­age fam­ily. How sta­ble. How un­fussy. How grown-up.

“It’s do­ing some­thing you love,” she says. “But there’s noth­ing more to it than that. Your life is else­where.”

En­der’s Game

En­der’s Game opens to­day and is re­viewed on page 11

Take it to the bridge: Ste­in­feld in

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.