Hailee Steinfeld Interview: Bumblebee

Hailee Steinfeld has already been nominated for an Academy Award, a Golden Globe, a BAFTA, and four Critics Choice Awards, winning one for Best Young Performer.  She starred against Jeff Bridges in True Grit and sang besides Anna Kendrick in Pitch Perfect 2 and 3. Her latest role is Charlie Watson in Bumblebee, where she acts opposite the fan-favorite yellow Autobot.

Screen Rant: This is the Transformers movie that I always wanted.  

Hailee Steinfeld: Amazing.

Screen Rant: It's my childhood, an amazing job. So, there's a lot of influence taken from early Steven Spielberg's works. Did you watch any of that to get a sense of that era?

Hailee Steinfeld: I definitely did. I mean, I had seen a lot of what Travis [Knight] and I have spoken about, being influenced by, or inspired by, with our film. So much came out of the eighties in terms of film and music and fashion. I find that people are incredibly influenced by it today. And we were able to channel a lot of that with our film.

Screen Rant: You did a great job with it.

Hailee Steinfeld: Thank you.

Screen Rant: Can you talk to me about where Charlie's at in her life? Before we start going on this journey with a VW Beetle?

Hailee Steinfeld: Of course. So, Charlie Watson, is on the verge of turning 18-years-old, which of course means freedom, being your own person. But a freedom isn't really freedom if you can't go places on your own. And for Charlie, her way of out, of finding that freedom and independence is with the car. So, she is working a dead-end job to hopefully make enough money to buy a car. That is something that she has a connection to, that she built with her father, who she lost. And she's in a place where she feels completely misunderstood because of where she's at in her life.  Because she lost the one person she felt did understand her. So, of course she comes across this car, then makes this unbelievable discovery, that is more than just that.

Hailee Steinfeld in the Bumblebee movie

Screen Rant: It’s more than meets the eye.  

Hailee Steinfeld: It’s more than meets the eye.  And then, like you said, that's where we begin our journey with these two.

Screen Rant: Now, a lot of this film hinges on the performance between you and a thing that's not there. An amazing job by the way. Because you convey the emotion perfectly. Now what techniques were used? Or was that all of your imagination that you just kind of had to conjure up?

Hailee Steinfeld: Well, it definitely was a lot of that. And I feel, for me, it was really about creating a backstory that was authentic enough to my own life. I think, for me, realizing that the place that we just spoke about, the place that Charlie is in her life, where she's just lost her father, the one person she feels understands her. That alone to me, on paper, was enough for me to feel something. And weirdly enough, this is kind of makes sense in my head.  We'll see if I can articulate it. But for me, being on-set with nothing, they're talking to this Transformer, talking to this one thing that does understand me, and does want to love me, and protect me, and be there for me, and listen to me, and be my friend. The thought for me personally of having that, but not physically having that there, is just as emotional I guess as-- it's like the loss of her father. I don't know if that made any sense, but it did in my head. But I guess what I'm getting at is that there are so many parallels between this character's relationship with her and her father as there are with her and this robot. That I was able to make a, you know as well, combining the two, not having anything there.

Screen Rant: It made sense to me. I totally got what you were saying. So, with the movie, there's a rumor that there's a second Transformers movie already in the works. Talked to Travis about it a little bit and talked about Cybertron. Do you think that Charlie could find her way onto Cybertron and would you like that as a challenge?

Hailee Steinfeld: I do. I think she could absolutely do anything. I think she could find her way into just about anything. I would love to see. I think at the end of this film, even though she's completely transformed from where we met her, she's still got a long way to go and a lot more to say. So, I don't know where that is or what that sounds like, but I'd love to find out myself.

Screen Rant: Well, me too. I love to follow Charlie's journey somewhere. But congratulations on all your success.

Hailee Steinfeld: Thank you so much.

More: Read Screen Rant's Bumblebee Review

Key Release Dates
  • Bumblebee (2018) release date: Dec 21, 2018
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