Haley Lu Richardson: ‘I’ve retired from playing teenagers’ | Movie

Over the past half decade, Haley Lu Richardson has amassed an impressive array of roles, from slapstick comedies to indie dramas, united in their striking naturalism.

As the popular best friend of Hailee Steinfeld’s misanthrope in a teen comedy. almost seventeenan unlucky lover with cystic fibrosis in five feet away and an architecture nerd who befriends a grieving old man in Kogonada’s critically acclaimed film. Colon, the 27-year-old American actor’s warmth consistently elevates what could be flat or derivative characters into full-blooded people. It’s remarkably good at the more casual and throwaway aspects of life that are often mistranslated on screen: Google Planned Parenthood at not pregnantshooting a look into the memories of a techno-sapien robot in after yang or, in the case of his new movie Montana Story, calling an Uber to his father’s ranch in Big Sky country.

Montana Story, written and directed by filmmaking duo Scott McGehee and David Siegel, marks a departure for Richardson, who has mostly played teenagers in sticky situations. Her character, Erin, is a fully grown 25-year-old who is reunited with her estranged brother, played by Owen Teague, after a stroke causes her father, whom they both hate, go into a coma

“I’ve retired from playing teenagers,” he laughs over Zoom earlier this week from Italy. The decision was made after filming Unpregnant, in which she played a 17-year-old honor student who is reunited with her best friend over slushies and Kelly Clarkson as she crisscrosses the states for an abortion. “I remember thinking after that movie, ‘I think that was the last time I was able to connect with a teenager.’ Like, I just don’t think I have it in me anymore…that was 10 years ago!”

The warmth she projects on the screen takes her away; there’s some lovely silliness throughout our conversation, as she breaks off to mention cat hair (her cat came to Italy with her), sparkling water burps, and an aside about how we both made out for the first time with the Kelly Clarkson songs, which would be completely vintage to her most recent teenage personas. She dressed in a hooded sweatshirt, she comes from Sicily, where she is immersed in the filming of the second season of the white lotusHBO scathing satire of privilege and leisure which became the big TV hit of the summer of 2021. Richardson plays Portia, a woman in her 20s who travels with her boss, and that’s all we know about her character so far.

“It’s the same show, just the characters are different and the setting is different, and the themes that weave through all the plotlines are new themes that are equally present in society and humanity now,” he says, searching the right. words. I provide: relevant, disturbing, disturbing. “Thought-provoking, fucked up,” she adds, and we both laugh. Also that.

With The White Lotus and Montana Story, Richardson was drawn to living through a more mature and calcified era of emotional turmoil. Erin returns after a seven-year absence with a hard shell of bitterness toward her father, whom we learn was cruel and abusive. To her brother, for more mysterious reasons that are gradually unlocked through a pressure cooker of awkward car rides, logistical decisions, and an inevitable confrontation that peels away the scabs of past wounds. “The maturity of that is something I connected with more personally,” she says.

“Obviously when I did Edge of Seventeen, I still love that movie and connected with it at the time, but this is a different level of connection that I personally felt with what Erin was going through, and a lot of it has to do with where. she is in her life, and what she is capable of facing and dealing with.”

It has been 11 years since Richardson and her mother moved to Los Angeles from her hometown of Phoenix, where she had won several regional dance competitions. Unlike many of her cohort, she entered Hollywood with no industry connections: her mother works in marketing, her father designs golf courses. When she was asked if she was frustrated by the looming nepotism barriers, Ella Richardson sounded optimistic. “I’m not trying to fight, and I’m not mad,” she says. “I mean, I see people springing up around me, or have these amazing opportunities around me, and a lot of them have been working really hard for a long time, and a lot of people have a certain kind of connection, or you just get really lucky in a particular role at a particular time.

Haley Lu Richardson in Not Pregnant
Richardson in Not Pregnant. Photograph: Ursula Coyote/AP

“I’ve had this slow, steady burn that I’m kind of grateful for, because I feel like it’s given me room to make real mistakes,” he adds, expressing his wariness around breakneck racing, the kind that creates a stir at all times. once. “It’s like, where do you go from there, you know? How can you overcome that? And not only at the level of how others see you and how they perceive you, but also in satisfaction. I hope that my whole career is just a constant construction.”

Montana Story’s Erin shares a common trait with most of Richardson’s characters: stubborn independence. Her performances, whether carefree or bottled up, seem to spring from the same well of stubborn determination. With Montana Story and acclaimed appearances in Columbus and After Yang, both directed by the pseudonymous South Korean filmmaker Kogonada, with whom she shares a mutually affectionate Close Friendship: Richardson has shown an affinity for small, collaborative settings and an eye for female characters who can’t take a backseat. “I would prefer, if I had to choose, what I do sometimes, because I don’t get those opportunities thrown left and right,” she says. “I would rather be doing a smaller independent movie with people that I really feel like I can collaborate with and really trust, and play a character that is really complete and interesting to me, than playing someone’s wife in a bigger movie. big”.

Richardson was almost in a much bigger movie, though not as an outcast wife, as one of the final candidates for Batgirl in the DC superhero movie, a role that ultimately went to In The Heights revelation Leslie Grace. Was she nervous about the prospect of joining a massive franchise? “Yes,” she says. “The moments that I’ve been awake, not just talking about that experience with Batgirl, but the moments that I’ve been awake like really big stuff or franchise stuff, superhero stuff or something like that, they happen so fast. You have to sign agreements ahead of time. There is never a script.”

Haley Lu Richardson and John Cho in Columbus
Richardson and John Cho in Columbus. Photograph: Everett Collection Inc/Alamy

She contrasts it with her creative sense, “why I’m doing this”, over which she has become increasingly protective. With franchises, “you become more of a puzzle piece and less of someone who’s helping put a puzzle together,” he says, though he takes his hat off to Brie Larson, who modeled her Captain Marvel in the 2019 MCU movie as a flint superhero with a feminist sensibility. “I really hope that if I ever do something like that, there will be room for [that].”

One place he finds that room: Instagram, where he has occasionally applied his acting talents to some cheeky homages to millennial culture. (See a incredibly faithful interpretation of Marissa’s madness for throwing the chair out of the pool from The OC). “I feel like Instagram is the only place I have where I can really control how people who know me as an actor see me as a person,” she says. “I like to keep it really… fun, I guess. I don’t give it too much importance, honestly.” That sounds healthy, I observe, as someone generally eager to post online. “I feel like it’s not too unhealthy for me,” she replied. “I think Instagram gets unhealthy when I start searching”: online shopping rabbit holes, other people’s enviable profiles, or a browse page filled with an endless roll of retouched skin and lip injections. “That affects you.”

We end on a dour note, speaking just a week after a leaked draft Supreme Court opinion signaled the almost certain end of Roe v Wade, leading the US to a more difficult situation. chaotic and punitive hell of inaccessible reproductive health than the one represented in Unpregnant.

“I just can’t believe it, I’m so sad that this is still a conversation,” she says. “I really think it’s so sad and wrong that this is a conversation that anyone has except a woman in the situation who talks personally to the people she wants to talk to about it in her life.”

We agree on a sentiment that is true to many of Richardson’s characters, sincere and blunt: “I think he’s screwed.”

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