Introducing Hailee Steinfeld, the girl who stole the Coen Brothers' hearts

true-gritImage Credit: Lorey Sebastian When the Coen brothers cast their net for Mattie Ross, the pivotal role in their adaptation of the beloved western True Grit, they met with nearly 15,000 girls. The one left standing at the end of the audition process was 13-year-old Hailee Steinfeld, who up until then had only appeared in a few shorts and a couple of bit parts on TV movies. Steinfeld was the greenest of the five promising child stars — Mad Men’s Kiernan ShipkaLet Me In’Chloë Grace MoretzModern Family’s Rico Rodriguez, The Last Airbender’s Noah Ringer — EW recently gathered for a new twist on the actors’ round table.

Steinfeld was sweet and refreshingly innocent, clearly thrilled to sit down with her more wizened peers. “Everything I do now is a first,” she said. “I’ve never done this type of interview before.” She revealed that she had once tried out for the role in Diary of a Wimpy Kid that went to Moretz instead. When it comes to former child stars, she looks up to the likes of Jodie Foster. People tell her she resembles a young Diane Lane. (It’s true.) As you’ll hear in the video below, the road to Mattie was a long and arduous one. And when it comes to her True Grit co-star Jeff Bridges and his divine resume, she bows down before the Dude.

For more on The Kids’ Table, check out the new issue of Entertainment Weekly, and view our bonus interview with newcomer Hailee Steinfeld in the video below.

Comments (43 total) Add your comment
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  • Minutiae

    I don’t see the Diane Lane thing at all, but she seems like a lovely and talented young lady. I hope the “lovely” part sticks around as she makes her way through Hollywood.

    • Joe

      I agree, if anyone I would say Phoebe Cates that she remained me of. Similar look, almost identical mix (except for the African American part for Phoebe Cates), both are equally stunning.

    • jack

      Many People are wrong that Filipino are African. Actually is Asian. May by many people are has never study geography. Hailee Steinfeld are same as Phobe Cates is Asian-American.

  • Shiny

    What a charmer! But not Diane Lane, more like a young Sandy Bullock.

  • Jenn

    Katniss Everdeen!

    • Ems


    • Becca


    • Linds

      OMG yes! I have often thought about who should play her…

    • Amelia

      SOMEONE ELSE SEES IT! I’ve been hoping for that since the True Grit trailer came out.

  • cam

    looks like True Grit will be an amazing movie. Hailee may be the greenest of the kids table gang, but after True Grit she’ll probably be the highest box office earner. A great article! You guys should make it semi-regular. And more Chloe Moretz!

  • sooper

    I’d place my bets on her as the new Katniss.

  • MomC

    Wow – She does look like Diane Lane circa A Little Romance.

    • janice

      other than long brown hair I don’t see it at all.

  • .

  • janice

    Her acting from the True Grit trailer reminds me so much of Jodie Foster when she was young. I know people say that about every serious young actress, but even the way she speaks in the True Grit trailer reminds me of 70s Jodie Foster.

    • benjy

      I think they should start giving Academy Awards for movie trailers.

    • Bdog

      I agree totally. Just saw the movie tonight and was saying the same thing about Jodie Foster — sounds just like Jodie did! But much more adorable.

  • YiYi

    que linda

  • Dominique

    Yes! Katniss! Agreed!

  • Rooster

    Remaking True Grit is truly a stupid move. Remakes of classics do not do well and as much as I like Jeff Bridges he is no John Wayne.

    • janice

      The Coen brothers aren’t remaking the original movie. They are adapting it closer to the novel. The Coens don’t even like the original film version of True Grit. And Jeff Bridges is a much better actor than John Wayne was. I have faith in the Coens.

      • John Q.

        I don’t give a horses butt if the Coens liked the original True Grit or not. It’s a classic that doesn’t deserved to be messed with. Especially by people who don’t respect it. As far as Bridges…he’s a good actor. But he will never be as popular or enduring as John Wayne.

      • EJ

        I agree with John Q. Jeff Bridges will never be as popular as John Wayne. He is a great actor,but Jeff Bridges’ roles are nothing like the roles John Wayne played. Comparing the two is like comparing a comedic actor to a dramatic actor. Two different styles – two different personalities.

      • janice

        You’re talking about popularity. I don’t care about popularity. I’m talking about talent. I want to see good actors. John Wayne legend that he is was not a great actor. Jeff Bridges has far more range. And just because it’s a film that John Wayne played in, doesn’t mean people can’t ever remake a BETTER version that sticks closer to the novel. Many people are fans of the novel and want to see a true version. The Coens promise to deliver that. Had it been some other actor instead of John Wayne in the original, IMO mediocre film, the remake wouldn’t even be an issue! The Coens will make it so much better. Just you wait.

      • Terry

        People keep saying that their version will be closer to the book. Well right after they first announced this I reread the book and watched the original film. It is VERY faithful to the book. It’s probably one of the most faithful books to films I’ve seen. I will be at the theater come christmas day though. I love Bridges and have been a longtime fan. But I;m also a Wayne fan and I don’t know why people have to put down the Duke to make their point. Maybe it’s the political climate, you can’t really make truly positive statements about the movie, so you put down the original. And before you start to say something positive about the new film, remember, it hasn’t opened yet and you haven’t seen it. It could be great, it could be crap, or it could be a hohum paint by the numbers carbon copy of the original. While I hope it’s good, I still have a hard time picturing Bridges saying such lines as “she reminds me of me” or “fill yore hands you sonuvabitch” quite as naturally as Wayne. Hopefully they won’t duplicate the lines. By the way, where did it say that the Coen’s hate the original? I haven’t heard that, but if it’s true, I’m pretty disappointed in them

      • jack

        I like Jeff Bridges acting since he acted at his 90s action movie with Tommy Lee Jones “Blow Away”.

  • Clete

    I am not a fan of re-makes, but I am a fan of the Coen brothers. This movie may actually be watchable, unlike many re-makes. The casting looks interesting at least.

  • ia

    This young actress has the beauty of a Natalie Portman and the maturity of a Jodi Foster and a Diane Lane, but she does not look like a young Diane Lane at all. She has Natalie Wood features with a mix of Natalie Portman. I only hope that she will not be forced to grow up so fast as most young actors are forced to do. With a family I’m sure behind her 100%, Ms. Steinfeld will do very well in the film business. At least, let’s hope. Can’t wait to see her debut in the Coen Bros. version of TRUE GRIT with one of the great actors out there, Mr. Jeff Bridges!!!

  • josh

    To make your first movie ever opposite Jeff Bridges and being directed by the Coen brothers truly raises the bar for any young actor’s career.

    • aword

      And Jewish? Wow! What the chances.

  • nelson

    she really should get an audition for the role of Katniss in Hunger Games

    she looks perfect

    • c


    • Lingo

      Big ditto!

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