Hailee Steinfeld has played down the Oscar buzz surrounding her performance in True Grit – despite praise from her co-stars and the film’s directors.
The teenager makes her impressive big screen debut as 14-year-old Mattie Ross, but the young actress said she isn’t practising her Oscars speech.
“No-o-o-o, not yet. I mean, honestly, just to be a part of it, that’s the biggest award I could get right now,” she said in an interview.
Hailee plays a 19th-century pioneer teen who hires lawman Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges) to hunt down her father’s murderer (Josh Brolin).
Casting directors travelled the country for months, looking at thousands of girls, and directors Joel and Ethan Coen met with a handful of the best, but were disappointed.
“They’re all 14-year-old girls, and predictably, they’re all terrible. Not all, but 99-point-whatever-%,” Ethan Coen said.
However, a few weeks before shooting started, they found Hailee, who lived in Los Angeles.
“She’s totally unintimidated coming into this room with Jeff Bridges and Barry Pepper and doing these scenes,” Joel Coen said. “It’s not a question of experience or training or any of the rest of it. Either you’ve got it or you don’t, sort of genetically, naturally, whatever it happens to be.”
Bridges spends almost the entire movie in Hailee’s company, but any worries he had about his young co-star quickly vanished.
“I was concerned right up to the first day we shot a big dialogue scene, and then I saw how invested she was in the character, how much talent and skill she had as an actress,” Bridges said. “I was so thrilled and relieved.”