Haley Lou Richardson: ‘I’ve retired from playing teens’ movies

In the latter half of the decade, Haley Lu Richardson has amassed an impressive variety of roles, from slapstick comedies and indie dramas, united in her stunning nature.

As the famous best friend of hater Hailee Steinfeld in the teen comedy Edge of Seventeen, a star-crossed lover with cystic fibrosis in Five Vet Apart and an architect befriending a grieving older man in Columbus’ critically acclaimed Cogunada, 27-year-old Warmth American actor He constantly elevates what would be flat or derived characters into full-blooded people. She’s remarkably adept at the casual aspects of life that often translate poorly to the screen — Googling Planned Parenthood in Unpregnant, glimpsing memories of techno robot Sabine in After Yang or, in the case of her new movie Montana Story, summoning Uber to her father’s farm in Big Sky.

The Montana Story, written and directed by film duo Scott McGee and David Siegel, marks a departure for Richardson, who played teens in complicated situations. 25-year-old Erin’s character reconnects with her estranged brother, played by Owen Teague, after he suffers a stroke that plunges their mutual father into a coma.

“I’ve retired from playing teens,” she laughed on Zoom earlier this week from Italy. The decision came after filming for Unpregnant, in which she played a 17-year-old honors student who reconnects with her best friend on Slashes and Kelly Clarkson as she cruises across the states for an abortion. “I remember thinking after that movie, ‘I think this was the last time I could call a teenager. “Like, I just don’t think I have any more… That was 10 years ago!”

The warmth you show on the screen carries it; There’s a tendency to goof off during our conversation, interrupting herself to remember cat hair (her cat made it to Italy with her), sparkling water burps, and ignoring how we first kissed to Kelly Clarkson songs, which would be quite archaic to her more modern teenage characters. Wearing a hoodie, she zooms in from Sicily as she delves into filming the second season of The White Lotus, HBO’s stinging satire of the franchise and entertainment that became the blockbuster of summer 2021. Richardson plays Portia, a woman in her mid-20s traveling with her boss, and this Everything we can know about her character so far.

“It’s the same show, it’s just that the characters are different and the setting is different, and the themes that intertwine in all the storylines are new themes that are equally present in society and humanity now,” she says, searching for the right words. I supply: relevant, disturbing, disturbing. “Thought, and bad,” she adds, and we both laugh. That too.

With The White Lotus and Montana Story, Richardson was drawn to live in a more mature and calcified age of emotional turmoil. Eren returns after a seven-year absence with a shell of cruel bitterness–towards her father, whom we know was cruel and abusive. Toward her brother, for more obscure reasons, she is gradually opened up by a pressure cooker of awkward car rides, logistical decisions, and the inevitable confrontation that tears wounds from past wounds. “The maturity of that is something I have personally associated with,” she says.

“Obviously when I did Edge of Seventeen, I still loved that movie and connected with it then, but that’s a different level of connection that I personally felt with what Irene was going through, and a lot of that has to do with where she is in her life, and what she can face and deal with.” .

It’s been 11 years since Richardson and her mother moved to Los Angeles from her hometown of Phoenix, where she won a number of regional dance competitions. Unlike many of her cohorts, she entered Hollywood without any industrial connections – her mother works in marketing, and her father works in designing golf courses. When asked if she is frustrated by the barriers of patronage that have emerged, Richardson is optimistic. “I’m not trying to fight back, and I’m not angry about it,” she says. “I mean, I see some people coming in around me, or they have these amazing opportunities around me, and a lot of them work really hard for a long time, and a lot of people have a certain kind of connection, or just get really lucky in a certain role at a certain time.”

Halle Lou Richardson in Not Pregnant
Richardson in Not Pregnant. Photo: Ursula Coyote/The Associated Press

“I had this slow, steady burn that I kind of appreciate, because I feel like it gave me room to really make mistakes,” she adds. “It’s like, where do you go from there, you know? How can you top that? And not only at the level of how others see you, how you are perceived, but also on the level of achievement. I hope my whole career is just a solid build.”

Erin from Montana Story shares a trait in common with most of Richardson’s characters: stubborn independence. Its performance, whether breezy or packed, seems to stem from the same powerful determination. With Montana Story and acclaimed roles in Columbus and After Yang — both directed by South Korean director Kogunada, with whom she shares a close, emotional friendship — Richardson demonstrated an affinity for small, collaborative environments and an eye for female characters that couldn’t fade into the background. “I’d rather, if I had to choose—which I sometimes do, because I don’t get those opportunities left and right,” she says. “I’d rather do a smaller indie movie with people I really feel I can collaborate with and really trust, and play a character that’s really plump and interesting to me, than playing someone’s wife in a bigger movie.”

Richardson was almost in a much bigger movie, albeit not as a sidelined wife, as one of the finalists for Batgirl in the DC superhero — a role that eventually went to In The Heights Breakout Leslie Grace. Was she nervous about the prospect of her joining a huge chain? She said, “Yes.” “The times I was — not just talking about that experience with Batgirl — but the times when I was like the really big stuff or the franchise stuff, superhero stuff or something, happen really fast. You have to sign deals early. No text “.

Halle Lou Richardson and John Cho in Columbus
Richardson and John Cho in Columbus. Photo: Everett Collection Inc / Alamy

She compares it to her creative sense – “why I do it” – from which she has become more protective. With the franchises, she “becomes a puzzle piece and less like someone who helps put together a puzzle,” she says, though she’s tipping her hat to Brie Larson, who cast Captain Marvel in the 2019 MCU movie as a superhero with a feminist sensibility. “I really hope that if you do something like this, there will be room for it [that]. “

One place where she found that room: Instagram, where she occasionally applied her acting talents in some sneaky homages to millennial culture. (See: Incredibly sincere delivery From the whim of Marisa who flings a pool chair from The OC.) “I feel like Instagram is the only place I have where I can really control how people who know me see me as a person,” she says. “I like to really keep… fun, I feel like that. Honestly, I don’t think much of that.” I note that this seems healthy because I generally worry about posting online. She replied, “I feel that this is not very harmful to my health.” “I think where Instagram becomes unhealthy is when I start researching” — online shopping rabbis, the enviable profiles of others, or an explore page filled with endless rolls of faceted skin and injected lips. “This is for you.”

We ended on a harsh note, speaking just a week after the leaking of a Supreme Court opinion draft that signaled the end of everything but emphatic Roe v Wade, which would plunge the United States into an even more chaotic and punitive hellscape of inaccessible reproductive health care than that. Described in non-pregnant.

“I can’t believe – I’m so sad this conversation is still going on,” she says. “I really think it’s very sad and wrong that this is a conversation that anyone but a woman would have in a situation who is personally talking to the people she wants to talk to in her life.”

We agree on the sentiments that apply to many of Richardson’s characters, both explicit and controversial: “I think it’s over.”

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