Hi! I have added 1 scan from the latest issue of Marie Claire USA to the gallery
Haley Lu Richardson lost “True Grit” to Hailee Steinfeld, but now stars alongside her in “The Edge of Seventeen.”
Haley Lu Richardson first learned of her future costar, rising multihyphenate Hailee Steinfeld, like much of the world did: when the Coen brothers’ “True Grit” was released in 2010. Yet the casting stuck out to Richardson not only because Steinfeld earned an Oscar nomination, or because they share the same name; she, too, had auditioned for the part, all the way from her childhood home in Arizona.
Several auditions and a move to L.A. later, the 21-year-old Richardson is capping off a year of breakouts in critical darlings celebrating the awkwardness that is coming-of-age. Earlier this year it was gymnastics comedy “The Bronze,” and she now delves further with ‘The Edge of Seventeen,’ where she plays Steinfeld’s best friend as they find their way through high school.
Up next, she’ll star in M. Night Shyamalan drama “Split” with James McAvoy and Anya Taylor-Joy; she chatted about her background in dance and what her parents “fangirl” over.
WWD: You grew up competitively dancing; when did you realize you wanted to be an actor?
Haley Lu Richardson: I just celebrated my five-year mark [in L.A.] a couple of months ago. I really had no clue what [being an actor] meant — I hadn’t really acted much in Arizona. I did competitive dance really seriously for nine years in Arizona, and I was always entertaining — I was always sort of a ham as a kid, just always wanting to entertain and to get people to laugh.
When I was eight until I was 17, my life was dance — sorry this is a complicated answer, I still haven’t figured out the simple answer to this question. But when I was 16, my friends and I were all starting to think about what we were going to do with our lives, and I started picturing myself majoring in dance at college traveling around with a contemporary dance company, and it didn’t excite me as I thought it would all those years. I was just thinking about the things that I loved most about dance, which was entertaining and telling a story, and that’s when I kind of opened my eyes again to acting.
WWD: Has the acting career intersected with your dance background at all?
H.L.R.: Oh my God, like, I hope it does! It doesn’t come up as much as I want now, but my biggest dream is to be able to be in a movie or some great TV show where I get to dance, and it’s about a contemporary dancer of some kind. I love how much dance is sneaking its way back into society. Dance is so prominent, now more than it’s been before, but I still feel like there’s this void that needs to be filled that tells the story of a contemporary dancer who is in a company — I don’t know, just that’s my dream to do that.
WWD: What stood out to you about the “Edge of Seventeen” script?
H.L.R.: It was one of those scripts where you don’t put it down and go make a sandwich and check Instagram a bunch while you’re reading it — I was in it the whole time and read it straight through and laughed and cried along with the characters. I think there were no cons — it was all just pros leading me to do the movie. I started reading the script and I kind of saw what was going to happen: Krista, my character, is going to end up being a b—h and ruining the friendship and the boyfriend is going to be full of himself and all these things. There were all these immediate stereotypes that went into my head, and then by the end of the story, all of the characters had kind of proved otherwise. And I just thought it was really real and really cool because what you kind of expect, isn’t — that’s the best kind of script to read.
WWD: How did you first meet your now costar, Hailee Steinfeld?
H.L.R.: I met her at Sundance Film Festival a couple of years ago — I had loved her in “True Grit,” and I actually auditioned for “True Grit” from a self tape in Arizona when I was 15. That was one of the first things I ever auditioned for, so when it came out that this other Hailee booked it, my parents always had a place in our minds for “True Grit” and Hailee, the two Haleys. I finally met her and my mom and dad were like fangirl-ing over her because of that story.
Apart from her high-profile career and her ascent within it, Haley Lu Richardson seems like a typical 21-year-old. She goofs around with her friends, reads books on spirituality, and shifts back and forth between fulfilling the responsibilities of adulthood and remaining a kid at heart. But with a handful of prominent upcoming roles, including in the acclaimed new coming-of-age film The Edge of Seventeen, the actress’s youthful exuberance is guiding her to a breakthrough in Hollywood.
Richardson was raised in Arizona, and was a serious dancer growing up. “I danced for like eight or nine years,” she says. “I was super focused and committed to that; all I did was go to school and then dance and get no sleep. That’s when I learned about self-motivation and committing to something, and also about how much I love entertaining and telling stories. And I think dance and acting have those things in common.” During her junior year of high school, as her classmates were thinking about where they wanted to go to college and what careers they wanted to pursue, her instincts led her towards acting. “That’s when I realized I want to try this acting thing,” she recalls. “I didn’t really know what it was, I didn’t know what LA was like, or what acting even felt like, to do it at a deep, real level, but I just had this calling. I know it sounds cheesy, but I just had this really strong obsession with going after it and learning about it.”
She convinced her parents to let her move to Los Angeles and her first film role came shortly after. She played a seventeen-year-old girl in a post-apocalyptic, drought-stricken world who got to save the day. “I was the hero, I was badass,” she exclaims, appreciative that the start of her acting career was so fulfilling. “I feel like it’s something that I do take for granted sometimes, the fact that I get these chances to play such interesting, three-dimensional people that aren’t just there to make a guy look funny or move the story along or be hot. I get those scripts sometimes and they make me so mad, and I don’t audition for them, but I get a lot of auditions where I really get the chance to be an actual human and explore someone that doesn’t fit in my type of stereotype. I feel like I wouldn’t love acting so much if I didn’t get to do that.”
Richardson’s bright-eyed demeanor has only helped her career thus far, where she has often had to play high-school-aged characters. “I really think there’s always something new to discover about that time in your life,” she explains. “Every time, I get an opportunity to go back and think about where I was when I was fifteen or sixteen and what I was going through and what I was feeling. It’s really cool because different characters bring different kinds of memories and experiences you actually went through at that age, and it’s a really complicated time.”
In The Edge of Seventeen, Richardson got to explore that age once again as Krista, who begins to date her best friend Nadine’s (Hailee Steinfeld) brother. “I think Krista really made me think of how I was in friendships,” Richardson says. “I see myself one way as kind of being crazy, and I do weird things and make stupid jokes, and all my friends are embarrassed of me, like I’m the twelve-year-old of the bunch. But I feel like friendships and relationships—especially when you’re so young—you go through things and you kind of need that rock.”
Following The Edge of Seventeen, Richardson will have a major departure from her past roles next January in the new M. Night Shyamalan film Split, in which she plays a teenager who is abducted by a man who has around twenty-three different personalities. “It’s hard doing a horror film or a thriller where the stakes are so high that it’s life and death,” she says. “Because—knock on wood—I’ve never had a near-death experience. But it’s really easier than people think to just be moved by words and by imagination, and sometimes when words are written—and Night wrote such a specific story—when you read those words and imagine yourself in your situation, it’s kind of hard to not respond and not have an actual emotional reaction to that.”
In another new twist for her, Richardson will also be appearing later next year alongside John Cho and Parker Posey in Columbus, in which she finds an unlikely connection with a Korean man who is stuck in Ohio. “Nothing really huge happens in the movie,” she explains. “You take a magnifying glass and zoom in on these two people’s lives and their timed meeting, and you see what unfolds, and see how they affect one another. I really appreciate films like that, that don’t have to be big and loud, that just silently show you what goes on in people’s lives.”
Despite Richardson’s growing prominence, she still retains her humble disposition. “I still don’t feel any more wise than when I first moved here,” she admits. “I feel like I’m learning new things every single day, and every time I’m like, ‘Wow I’ve figured it out,’ I go and shoot another movie and have another experience, and I’m like, ‘Oh wait, I didn’t figure it out.’ But I feel like also the point of doing something is learning. A privilege of life is being able to constantly learn and absorb things and observe people.” Her optimism may stem from her focused dance training, or from moving to Los Angeles before graduating high school, or from just simply being twenty-one, but with her newfound successes, there’s no reason for it to wane any time soon.
The Edge of Seventeen is out today.
Actress Haley Lu Richardson is on the edge of her big break—literally. This fall, the 21-year-old stars in the drama-comedy The Edge of Seventeen as Krista, a wise-beyond-her-years high schooler whose relationship with her best friend, Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld), is tested when she falls for Nadine’s older brother.
“Their friendship is a pretty cool dynamic,” Richardson says, speaking over the phone from her home in Topanga Canyon, right outside of Los Angeles. “Nadine is a bit lost and wacky. She embarrasses herself and goes through all these struggles, and Krista is kind of her rock. But when Krista starts dating Nadine’s older brother, I feel like [the film] could so easily have gone to a place of like, ‘Oh, they’re enemies now.’ But Krista wasn’t out to get Nadine—she just ended up in this position where she wants to explore this [relationship] for herself, but that maybe it doesn’t have to ruin [their friendship]. And that, if anything, maybe it can bring them all closer together, or Nadine and her brother closer together. She’s not the stereotypical villain.”
And for Richardson, there was no better scene partner than Steinfeld: “It was super easy playing best friends with Hailee,” she says of the 19-year-old Oscar nominee. “We had such a good time. I was really inspired by her. She’s younger than me, but she has such a strong sense of her work and she’s so confident in her choices, because she’s been acting for so long.”
Surprisingly, Richardson hasn’t been. Even though she’s a self-described ham (“It’s part of the baggage of being an only child,” she says, laughing) and tried musical theater as kid, acting wasn’t the center of her young life. Rather, from ages nine to fifteen, she devoted herself to competitive dance. “I learned to be really hard on myself [through dance],” she admits, “which can be detrimental if it’s not balanced. It’s one of those best friend-frenemy things I have with my own self. But [dance] was still the only that really meant anything to me besides my family and friends.”
However, when she started considering her future, the Arizona native found herself at a crossroads. She wasn’t psyched about the thought of attending a traditional college (“My friends had Stanford flags up in their rooms. I was never that kid!”), but she also couldn’t see herself dancing professionally. So she pitched an idea to her mom and dad: She wanted to move to Los Angeles to give acting a serious shot.
Her parents weren’t keen on the idea at first, but after numerous discussions—Richardson even made a poster-board mapping out where she’d live, how she’d finish school, how they’d do it financially—they said yes. So, at 16, she and her mom moved to the City of Angels, where she finished high school online. But once she turned 18, her mom moved back to Arizona, and the pressure was on.
“Since I’ve been living here on my own,” she explains. “The only person I have to rely on to hold me accountable for anything—to have me to go auditions, to get me to work on time, to keep me going even when things get really tough—is myself.”
Luckily, Richardson doesn’t flinch under pressure—and so far, she’s been up to the challenge. In 2015, she starred as an Olympic hopeful gymnast in The Bronze. And after The Edge of Seventeen, she’ll appear opposite James McAvoy in M. Night Shyamalan’s upcoming feature, Split, slated for release in 2017. No pressure.
Haley Lu Richardson is Tess in Ravenswood, Maggie Townsend in The Bronze, and a self-described “very short yet very loud actual legitimate alien” on her Instagram profile. She can act, she can dance, she is a hell of a crocheter, and we love every bit of her fiery personality! And, doesn’t she just look amazing in our “A Blush of Shadows” by UNBOUND SOUL kimono?!
We recently shared our three favorite Ls: Live. Love. Lounge. with Haley and she told us which phrases, thoughts or stories each one of them bring to her mind.
Haley: “Life isn’t about finding yourself, life is about creating yourself.” —George Bernard Shaw
I discovered this quote in 4th grade and ever since then it’s been my favorite. Yes, I know it’s more than a bit cheesy, but it has always resonated true with me. It’s cheesy but it’s simple and straightforward and that’s what I like about it. This quote is how I live my life and how I plan on continuing to live the rest of my existence. There is so much in this world we can’t control but the one thing we always have power over is ourselves. I don’t want to wait around to be good or for something good to happen, I want to take charge and create my legacy and destiny and I want what I create to be worth while. That is what I feel it means to “live”.
Haley: When I think of the world “love” I think of people. Not a lot of people. I think of a small, special circle of my favorite people in the world all holding hands around me. Almost like in Harry Potter when he’s about to fight Voldemort and all the people he cares about most show up in spirit and form a force field of love around him! Sorry I just re-watched all the movies so I have Harry on my brain ha-ha-ha! But seriously—I look around and I see these people and they are looking at me with that look, that look you can’t describe with any other word but “love”. And we just stand there and take each other in. No one says anything, but no one needs to. It’s making me smile so big right now just thinking of it ?
Haley: Nature. I don’t care if it’s a mountain and a sunset in Arizona or a beach and palm trees in the Caribbean. Clear air and a clear mind.
A comfy chair. A comfy pillow. And of course a glass of wine ?