Interview: Hailee Steinfeld on playing a (sort of) normal teen in ’3 Days to Kill’

Hailee Steinfeld plays a teenager reconnected with her assassin father (Kevin Costner) in "3 Days to Kill." Credit: Getty Images
Hailee Steinfeld plays a teenager reconnected with her assassin father (Kevin Costner) in “3 Days to Kill.”
Credit: Getty Images

So far Hailee Steinfeld has played in movies set in the distant past (“True Grit,” “Romeo and Juliet”) and the distant future (“Ender’s Game”). “3 Days to Kill” has her playing a normal teen in the present. Well, not that normal: She’s Zoe, an American in Paris whose estranged father is a government assassin, played by Kevin Costner.

“I was able to identify with her very easily,” she says. “I think her situation is very similar to a lot of situations that teenage girls go through all over the world — just growing up and finding yourself. She acts out a lot. I’ve gone through phases in my life where you’re somewhere in the world and you don’t know what you’re doing and you have to fit in or else you’re a nobody.”

Still, she doesn’t being normal makes her character too different from Mattie Ross in “True Grit” or Juliet in “Romeo and Juliet.” “I think with all the characters that I’ve played, all of them have strength, even if it’s an underlying strength, that you don’t necessarily see but you know they have. Then there’s ‘True Grit,’ where Mattie had nothing but strength and courage and she just exuded that. Whereas with Zoe, she has it and you know you’re going to see it but she doesn’t let you see it until the right time.”

After “Ender’s Game,” “3 Days to Kill” was Steinfeld’s second film with action elements, though she wasn’t a part of those. “It was very exciting reading the script and coming across the words ‘a car races into a building’ — those crazy action things you can only imagine,” she says. In fact, she isn’t introduced till over a half hour into the film. “I remember, when I saw it, there was the first half of the movie I felt like I had no idea I was even a part of it. It was so thrilling and action-driven.”

The crux of the film, though, isn’t about action, but about Zoe reuniting with her long-lost (and, unbeknownst to her, dying) dad. The growing affection between her and Costner, if not the initial acrimony, is real. “We shot the movie In order, so we were able to start out like our characters, not really knowing eachother, but wanting to get to know eachother but sort of holding back,” she says.

But on-screen isn’t where they got close. “Our bonding mostly happened in between takes, in a car, warming up. In between set-ups we were stuck in a van with a bunch of people, the heat turned all the way up. We shared each other’s gloves and hand-warmers.”

That wasn’t, thankfully, the most exciting part for her. “The one thing that stood out right away to me was the wardrobe. I remember my first fittings I was like, ‘Oh my God, I hope I get to keep this stuff!’ I did not necessarily feel that way about ‘True Grit.’”

Steinfeld’s director on “3 Days to Kill” was the so-named McG (real name: Joseph McGinty Nichol). He’s known for his boundless enthusiasm. “He was constantly referencing things that I would pull my cellphone out and Google. He was Just spitting out references, from historical to music to movies to everything.”

McG is of a different countenance from her first directors, “True Grit”’s Joel and Ethan Coen. “They have a very different style,” she says. But she confirms that they’re not as mysterious as their enigmatic public persona would suggest. “They’re so easy to talk to and so down-to-earth. They have an amazing team and an amazing family that comes together to make a great film.”

Follow Matt Prigge on Twitter @mattprigge


'Barack Obama cheats on Michelle' claims Japanese politician…

A senior Japanese politician has marred Barack Obama's official visit to Tokyo with bizarre claims that the President cheats on his wife Michelle. Kazuyuki Hamada,…


British Royal family devastated by freak NY death…

The British royals have been left devastated by the death of Mark Shand, younger brother of Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, after a freak fall in…


Philadelphia principal has President Obama's ear

The West Philadelphia head is gathering ideas to present to the White House.


Neighbors testify at Overbrook roommate slaying trial

Neighbors and roommates were called to testify Wednesday in the trial of Renaldo Robichaw, 56, charged with murder for the death of roommate Albert Smith, 48.


‘Survivor: Cagayan’ recap: Episode 9

It was only an hour-long episode, but there's a lot to cover this week. The drama of Survivor strikes again as the identity of the…


TV watch list, Wednesday, April 23: 'Suburgatory,' 'Modern…

'Suburgatory' The men of "Suburgatory" go camping and Tessa mentors a social outcast in a Miss Chatswin contest, which brings her, once again, into conflict…


Latin culture highlighted at Filadelphia film fest

Get ready to have a “Bad Hair” day at the upcoming Filadelphia Latin American Film Festival. We mean that in the best possible way. The…

The Word

The best lines from Oprah's ex-stepmother's Daily Mail…

Oprah’s ex-stepmother, Barbara Winfrey, is out for revenge.


2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April 24…

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April 24 version


Eagles will spend Thanksgiving in Dallas, play four…

The Eagles have an impressive, challenging and exciting schedule in 2014.


NFL releases Eagles 2014 schedule

The Eagles have four primetime games, face the Cowboys on Thanksgiving and host the Seahawks in a dynamic, challenging and impressive schedule.


All signs suggest Steve Mason will start in…

Flyers head coach Craig Berube elected to put Steve Mason in net for the final minutes of Game 3.


Pippa Middleton's Etsy pick: Golden Thread Jewelry

Get a look at the jewelry Pippa Middleton loves and find out how you can buy it too.


What every parent needs to know to get…

Mom and author of "Small Talk," Tracey Blake, shares her five practical tips to help you develop your children's language skills.


Subway crush: Meet your soulmate on your commute

Read about a couple who has been 40 years after meeting on the train.


Happy birthday, Game Boy! The handheld console turns…

Nintendo's Game Boy turns 25 this week. To commemorate, we look at some of its better games, like "Tetris" and "The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening."