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Hailee Steinfeld Has “True Grit”

Dec 16, 2010

Don’t you love when tween or teen girls are spunky, smart and can hold their own against guys five times their age? Introducing Mattie Ross – a horse-back-ridin’, bad-guy-fightin’ character in the new Western flick True Grit who’s played by 14-year-old Hailee Steinfeld. Check out our interview with Hailee and find out more about the movie!


Based on a 1960s novel that reads like The Twilight Saga or The Hunger Games, True Grit features Mattie Ross, a teen who’s determined to track down a hired hand named Chaney (Josh Brolin) who murdered her dad – and treat him to some good, ol’-fashioned Texas justice.


The movie’s directors searched far and wide for the perfect young girl to play Mattie. Now Kidzworld is with Hailee in Beverly Hills where her co-star, Jeff Bridges, tells us that, despite her tough character, the young actress “has got a very sweet side as well.”


Kidzworld: This is your first movie. What advice did the other actors give you that you took to heart?

  • Hailee: I think the best advice that the actors have given me is to not take anything too seriously, but to have fun and, well, [she looks over at Jeff, who grins back] take it somewhat seriously, right? But just to have fun with things.

Kidzworld: Tell us about the dialogue in this movie, which is very unusual and old-fashioned…

  • Hailee: When I first got the script that was the first thing that I really had to work on was making sure that I understood what everything meant and then I had to go back through and make sure that I understood what everything meant to me emotionally and how I could relate to it in my own life.

Kidzworld: You also have a strange accent…

  • Hailee: With the accent, just getting on set and everyone talking in it, that happened naturally.

Kidzworld: What was the most fun thing about doing a Western?

  • Hailee: The horseback riding was fun. I used to ride a couple of years ago, so to be able to pick back up on that, that was fun.

Kidzworld: Your scene with Josh Brolin, who plays bad guy Chaney, is really rough and scary. How did you prepare for that campfire scene with him?

  • Hailee: Fifteen minutes after I met him for the first time we were rehearsing that and then he was on top of me with the knife to my neck. So it was kind of interesting! [Note: nothing bad happens.]

Hailee Steinfeld in True GritHailee Steinfeld in True Grit

Kidzworld: Did you do your own stunts?

  • Hailee: I did most of them, besides falling down the snake pit. That was the biggest stunt. I learned how to shoot a gun. Before I went on location that was one of the things that I wanted to make sure that I had a clue of what I was doing. So I had my dad take me to a shooting range with a friend of ours who’s an LAPD [police] officer and he kind of told me everything I needed to know.

Kidzworld: How was it being the only girl with all these dudes in the film?

  • Hailee: That wasn’t bad [big grin]. They’re awesome, they’re amazing, and I was surrounded by women the entire time, too. Like the hair/makeup people and wardrobe. My mom was with me, my tutor, so I was surrounded by women the entire time, but I feel like all of the guys were like big kids so it was a lot of fun.

Lynn Barker, an editor and entertainment journalist for several websites, magazines and newspapers, has been active in the entertainment industry for many years.


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