Sally Field & Hailee Steinfeld

Variety, December 6, 2016 | Go to article overview

Sally Field & Hailee Steinfeld


Oscar-winner Sally Field ("Hello, My Name Is Doris") and Oscar nominee Hailee Steinfeld ("The Edge of Seventeen") came to the Variety studio to talk about their characters, and what drew these two Valley girls to the silver screen.

Hailee Steinfeld: "Hello, My Name Is Doris." How and when did this all come together?

Sally Field: Well, rather quickly. It came to me because Michael Showalter, the writer, sent it to me, thinking that surely I would pass because it's such a tiny movie. It only cost a million dollars to make and it was like a 20-day shoot - we shot for like three weeks.

Steinfeld: Really?

Field: She's just such an unusual character. It takes a look at both being an older woman and just what it is to be alive. Always feeling new. If you're moving on in your life, you're always feeling slightly new, like, OK, I know this territory, and then I have to reach for that territory, and that territory. I don't know where to put my feet!

Steinfeld: Totally.

Field: And how will I do? And I'm not really sure if I'm doing the right [thing], and then it's that exploration [about what] human beings are supposed to do and many times don't because it's so frightening. And that kind of is what Doris is about. So of course I said yes immediately. How about you, "Edge of Seventeen," which is so wonderful?

Steinfeld: Thank you, so much. That was something that was sort of being talked about between agents and it was the title of the movie had changed a few times, and it was being thrown around and I initially was like, this automatically just sounded like a teenage movie. And part of me -

Field: Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

Steinfeld: I had just turned 18, I was like, I'm 18 now, I'm an adult, I don't want to play a teenager anymore.

It resurfaced months later, and somebody came to me and said, 'This is something you've got to look at.' And I read it, and I always feel like normally I'll read a script one time through, I'll kind of decide that if I like it I'll read it again, and start to pick up on things. And the first time I read this script, I was like I, I don't see anyone but myself doing this.

The complexity of this character and, and the fact that it's so real. There was no part of her or the story that felt dishonest. To me, and my story as a teenager, and my life, and just the idea of, of doing this story justice, was something I really wanted to do.

Field: You were also raised in the [San Fernando] Valley, like I was, and you started extremely young, like I did, and I'm just wondering about when did theater get you? When did you know you wanted to go into drama? Not to mention music, we might add.

Steinfeld: Thank you.

Field: I got to theater because I went to Birmingham High School. And forever after, you know, it was completely my drug of choice. But how about for you?

Steinfeld: I was 8 years old when I went to my parents and said it was something I wanted to do. It, being commercials. I had a cousin who was doing commercials, and I would sit in front of the TV and wait for hours [for] the commercial. And the minute I saw it, her face was as big as the screen, I ran into Mom and Dad's office, I was like, "Mom and Dad, I want to be in commercials." That's what I wanted to do.

She said to me, "If you go and take acting classes for a full year and stay with it, then we'll, we'll look into it." And so I was put into an acting class and I was 8 years old. Within that one year I was in the class with the 18-year-olds and I was doing everything that they were doing.

Field: Did you look older than 8?

Steinfeld: I was very tall. I struggled with that for a very long time. I looked older than I could play, but I could never play older because of my age. Hours and legal stuff. And then I made my first movie at 13.

Field: And which was that? Steinfeld: "True Grit."

Field: Oh, you were only 13?

Steinfeld: Yeah. …

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