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True Grit's Hailee Steinfeld Talks Coens, Learning from Bridges and Damon, Horses and School

Thompson on Hollywood By Sophia Savage | Thompson on Hollywood January 8, 2011 at 1:20AM

grit (noun): firmness of character; indomitable spirit.
Thompson on Hollywood

grit (noun): firmness of character; indomitable spirit.

It's why the Coen brothers cast Hailee Steinfeld in True Grit.

Having scored rave reviews, the fourteen-year-old rookie actress is campaigning for a hotly debated supporting actress Oscar nomination. Or should it be leading actress? Steinfeld's Mattie Ross instigates the action and holds her own with A-listers Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon and Josh Brolin. What's not debatable is that she's up against formidable competition in both actress categories, from Natalie Portman's Black Swan and Lesley Manville's Another Year stunner to supporting front-runners Helena Bonham Carter (The King's Speech) and The Fighter's Amy Adams.

Sophia Savage's two-part video interview is below.

Steinfeld's role models are two actresses who started young and maintained longevity, Natalie Portman and Jodie Foster. Like them, she plans to attend college, but she is waiting to see where her new career takes her before enrolling in high school (she's been home-schooled for the past few years). The Coen brothers cast the L.A.-area native after an exhaustive search and multiple auditions. She says: "It's almost as if they are one person and they have the same mind."

Part One:

Part Two:

This article is related to: Awards, Directors, Genres, Headliners, Hollywood, Video, Interviews , Media, Oscars, Coens, Remake, Western, Matt Damon, Natalie Portman, Jeff Bridges

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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.