Three years ago Hailee Steinfeld gave an Oscar nominated performance in True Grit, but ever since then, we haven’t heard much from the actress. Luckily, 2013 sees her returning in several new films, one of which is the upcoming Ender’s Game, where she plays Petra Arkanian, one of many young children who is selected to attend Battle School where the future leader of the International Fleet is being sought. She eventually becomes friendly with the school’s most promising student, Ender Wiggin (played by Asa Butterfield), and together they help one another master the increasingly difficult war games that they are made to play.
Last week at the Ender’s Game press junket in Los Angeles, Steinfeld showed up to discuss her role in the film as well as where she’s been for the last couple of years, how she trained for the part, why she chose to do this particular project and much, much more.
Check it out below and enjoy!
It’s been three years since True Grit came out and we really haven’t seen you since then. What have you been doing, and was it a tough decision to decide on what to do next?
Hailee Steinfeld: Yeah, it was definitely an interesting time after True Grit. I was never really in a rush after that to go into the next thing. I sort of took an unintentional year off and read a lot of scripts and wanted to make sure that whatever the next project was would be the right one. That ended up being Romeo & Juliet, and since then I have shot seven films. I’ve been really busy. Two of them were just bought to TIFF and they are all starting to come out now so it’s been really busy and really exciting.
What was your motivation when you were deciding on scripts, and what was the motivation to do Romeo & Juliet and Ender’s Game?
Hailee Steinfeld: The fact that they are classics and they have so many incredible people involved. The passion behind each of these projects that I’ve worked on has just been so incredible, and I’ve had some really great experiences. But there hasn’t been really any specific method in choosing these.
When you picked this project, which could lead to a potential franchise, do you give that any extra thought, that this might turn into a series of films like Twilight did?
Hailee Steinfeld: Yeah, sure. I think if it’s a possibility, you definitely think about it. I think something that’s so exciting about this potentially being more than just one film is that it’s unlike anything I’ve ever done, and I find at the end of every shoot that I feel like the role is coming to an end because I don’t want it to end. So I think with this, having had such an incredible experience shooting Ender’s Game, I would do it again in a heartbeat.
Petra’s a really strong girl who is in a group of competitive guys. Was it like that on set as well? Did they treat you right or did they treat you differently because you’re a girl?
Hailee Steinfeld: No (laughs). They were really great with me. We really became great friends really quickly which I think is super fun because we had time before we started filming to sort of bond and get to know each other. By the time we started filming this movie, we were a team and we were in it together, and I think that really shows through onscreen.
You went to space camp to train for this movie, right?
Hailee Steinfeld: Yeah, I did go to space camp. I actually had a sort of an unfair advantage where the boys all went and I was coming off of another film so I was about a week late. So they were already back in New Orleans, and when I went to space camp I was on my own. I was able to stay at a hotel at night and eat normal food, and they were stuck with the space food and the bunk rooms.
What was it like going from Romeo & Juliet to Ender’s Game?
Hailee Steinfeld: That was somewhat of a culture shock I’d say. Going from filming a period piece to spending 90% of your time in front of a green screen is weird and uncomfortable and unnatural. I find that with period pieces you’re sort of able to really take advantage of what’s around you because prop-wise, wardrobe-wise and location-wise, it’s all so specific due to that time. Having done True Grit and Romeo & Juliet, both period pieces, I was really sort of almost used to that in a way, so going to shooting Ender’s Game in front of a green screen was really weird. But I was able to sort of use my imagination in a way that I’d never had before, so that was something that I really, really loved about this experience. It was so completely different and Gavin Hood was so incredible in translating verbally what his vision was and helping us all come together and see the same thing.
When did you first read the book and what were your impressions of it?
Hailee Steinfeld: I read the book right after I read the script, and I just thought it was so cool. I couldn’t get over thinking about how much fun it was going to be to shoot and how in the world they were going to pull it off. All these things were going through my mind and then realizing that it’s a very character driven story and there’s so many incredible relationships within this story, I found that really interesting and really attractive.
Ender’s Game takes place in the future, but it also deals with elements in today’s society like kids getting bullied. We know you have been homeschooled since 2008, but do you have any opinion in regards to bullying?
Hailee Steinfeld: I think it’s interesting that in the film they are placed in this world where they don’t know who they can trust and who they can’t trust. They’re away from home and they have no attachments to home. All they’re looking for is a friend, and I think it’s not really a matter of bullying or being bullied, but it’s sort of this self-guard that I think the characters have in the movie where they don’t want to open up because they’re afraid.
Gavin Hood said that the young actors had quite a rigorous process with the wire work. How long did it take to get acclimated to that?
Hailee Steinfeld: A long time (laughs).
What were the intricacies of the choreography when you were put up in the wires?
Hailee Steinfeld: It kind of happened in stages. We were first put up on wires after we watched our stunt coordinator and his team. After we watched them do it, thinking it was going to be really easy and realizing that it wasn’t, we just spent hours getting used to holding ourselves up there. Once we got used to that, they threw us into these choreographed scenes. So it was definitely difficult but really fun and really interesting because I think that as uncomfortable and unnatural as it may seem, it really affects the way that you carry yourself. Even the wardrobe, our flash suits with the harnesses underneath them, was very structured and it’s almost really helpful. But after a long time of being uncomfortable and just really self-aware of how you look, it became a lot of fun.