Hailee Steinfeld originally hesitated about joining Bumblebee - Here’s why
Producer Lorenzo diBonaventura and writer Christina Hodson wax lyrical about the actress
With an astonishing score of 95% on Rotten Tomatoes, Bumblebee is by far and away the most critically acclaimed entry into the Transformers franchise yet.
Let’s put its success into perspective. When it comes to these percentages, Bumblebee’s closest rival from the series is the 57% of 2007’s Transformers, while the combined scores of Revenge Of The Fallen, Dark Of The Moon, Age Of Extinction and The Last Knight comes in at just 87%.
One of the key reasons why Bumblebee has been met with so many sterling reviews is the performance of Hailee Steinfeld as Charlie Watson, who becomes BFFs with the titular robot in disguise.
“She’s unbelievable,” producer Lorenzo diBonaventura tells Metro. “It is not easy to carry a film of this size.”
But it turns out that Hailee Steinfeld almost turned down Bumblebee, as she saw too many similarities between Charlie and her character from The Edge Of Seventeen.
“At first she hesitated. One of the reasons why that I could address and say, ‘No, you’re wrong about that,' is that she saw similarities in the character between what she had done in The Edge Of Seventeen and this movie.”
“When Travis Knight [director] read the script he was thinking about her,” adds writer Christina Hodson. “He had recently seen The Edge Of Seventeen and he thought she would be perfect for her. I didn’t see the film until she was cast. Then I noticed that there was actually some overlap there. There’s the dead dad!”
However, Lorenzo diBonaventura was quickly able to explain to Steinfeld why Bumblebee differed to The Edge Of Seventeen.
“I said, ‘OK, I get literally what you’re saying. But we’re building a hero.’ That’s a very different character therefore. That really reorientated her thinking. Because I knew she could engage someone with the character, but if the audience didn’t believe she’d become a hero then it wouldn’t work.”
“It doesn’t matter that her father died in both films. It matters that she has the inner strength that will make an audience believe that she will be integral in the climatic situation. Which in all of the Transformers movies is so hard. Because they’re gigantic and we’re so small. It was really big and important.”
“If she wasn’t good then this movie would be a disaster,” says Hodson. “But she is so good in our movie. It is such a hard thing to do. She is acting against nothing for so much of the movie.”
But Hodson also recognizes another reason why Steinfeld fit so well into Bumblebee and excelled on screen.
“She has such an emotive face. Even in the simplest scenes, I remember being on set and seeing her just churn lemonade for her job. She had so much going on behind her eyes and with her face.”
“She has a really rare thing, especially for someone her age, who can really do the warmth and the humor and really do the emotional and teary. People get choked up watching her do scene in this movie. That’s all credit to her for bringing the emotion out of it."
Bumblebee opens in theaters Dec. 21.