V sat down with the actor at the Sundance Film Festival where the new film was met with critical praise.
Although 22-year-old Haley Lu Richardson recently starred in M. Night Shyamalan’s trippy hit thriller Split, and The Edge of Seventeen, she’s more eager to see how fans will respond to her upcoming role in the indie flick Columbus. The first feature-length film by Korean director Kogonada (the auteur’s chosen nom d’artiste) has a quiet, Before Sunrise-esque plot: Richardson plays a recent high school grad named Casey who befriends Jin (played by John Cho), a visitor to Casey’s hometown of Columbus, Indiana. In real life, the city has a massive amount of modernist architecture and public art, setting a gorgeous backdrop for the characters’ heavy conversations.
Columbus is, according to Richardson, “the most fulfilling role I’ve ever done.” She also notes that she was initially pretty freaked out about taking it on. “There’s no intense explosion or special effects, just talking. You have nowhere to hide…you’re fully exposed to yourself as that character.” That Richardson had to be so emotionally raw for her role left her wondering “why they didn’t hire Dakota Fanning.” She adds, “It’s super refreshing to sit down and read a pure story of two people just going through life.”
Following her role in Columbus, Richardson hopes to have a career like fellow actors Shailene Woodley and Emma Watson: “Those are girls that kind of look like me and have had similar experiences, but they’re bad ass human beings and inspire me.”
In her downtime, Richardson enjoys crocheting. She even has her own Etsy shop, Hooked By Haley Lu, which sells fringed bikini tops and off-the-shoulder minidresses fit for Coachella. “I should set up a booth. I’ll get my friends to model,” she jokes. As for her own style, it’s still evolving: “It’s a little all over the place, kind of like my personality.”