Excerpts from Roundtable Interview with Hailee Steinfeld,

Star of “The Edge of Seventeen”

Dallas, Texas, October 27, 2016

 

Ronald Salfen:  I was really impressed with your performance,

Hailee Steinfeld:  Thank you.

RS:  And thought you had such a tremendous range you showed with your emotions,

HS:  Thank you.

RS:  And I was just curious as to how you tap in to all that.

HS:  Ah, well, with something like this, I really felt I was able to just be a teenager and live, and freak out when I wanted to freak out, and feel like, in certain situations where one emotion is listed you can feel every single emotion ever, and you can just channel it and put it into that specific moment and that specific situation.  And being able to feel like I can express so much of what I've gone through, and have never really had the outlet to express myself in, other than this role, was really liberating, and I was able to just kind of let it all go.

RS:  You sure did.

HS:  Thank you.

RS:  I'm also a church pastor, and the youth director at my church was asking me about this film, and if he could take the youth group to it. And I'm thinking, “there is a certain level of scatology here”...

HS:  Sure.

RS:  So what would you say?  How would you respond to that?

HS:  Can I ask the age range?  Is it my age?

RS:   Yes, we have Junior Highs and Senior Highs, so it would be thirteen to eighteen.

HS:  Well, I do feel...for whatever reason I don't remember at what point in the process of making this film I heard that it was rated R, but I was kind of surprised by it, only because I don't feel it's rated R for a specific thing, like the overuse of unnecessary language, or just certain things...I remember being a little confused by that.  So obviously I would say---how old do you have to be to see an R-rated movie?---

RS:  Seventeen.

HS:  Seventeen.  So there's that.  But I really do feel like this movie does a teenager's life story justice. And if you walk through the hallways of a high school, the way these kids talk in this movie is most likely how you're going to hear them talk.  This is what high school is.  Teenagers go to parties.  They do certain things at parties.  And they feel certain ways.  Some kids thrive; others don't.   And this movie captures all of those moments.  And I think, you know, I want my generation to see this movie and feel that they're not alone.  And that, you know, this is reality, and there's no makeover in this movie, there's no Prince Charming.  She doesn't end up with the guy she thinks is the guy of her dreams.  It's reality.  It's that movie you can watch and not think, “Man, I wish that's how my life was.”  It's a movie I feel like they can watch and think, “This is a movie about how my life is.”  And I feel like they can be understood by this character.

RS:  Even the younger kids, you think?

HS:  To some degree.  When I think about being 13, I wasn't involved in social media, I was late to that game.  And I think that 13-year-olds now don't know a life without it. So there's a separation there; I think they feel more connected to it now, than when I was 13, I would have felt like I didn't fully understand this part of life yet.  But I would say there's something in this movie they could identify with. 

RS:  My granddaughter's 12, and she's got a phone, so there you go.

HS:  Great! (laughs)

RS:  So maybe the Youth Group could see it, with discussion afterwards?

HS:  Sure.  I would say it's important, and it has universal themes in it, of youth trying to figure out who they are, and like I said before, what their place is, and what their life is, and what they're good at.  Finding those things is never easy, especially when you don't really have anyone to help you find the answers.  And that's what this movie is.  So, yeah, I would encourage them to go see it and talk about it.

RS:  I'll tell our Youth Director you said it was OK.

HS:  (laughs) Oh, no!  Great.  The biggest challenge was making this movie so that it would be something 13-year-olds could see, and feel something, and making sure I was doing this character-story justice.  And feeling like, if I had never read the script for this movie, I could watch it and feel like I was understood.   And feeling that obligation is what challenged me.

RS:  Thank you for your time.

HS:  Thank you.

 

Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, DFW Film Critics Association