Why Haley Lu Richardson Referenced Hailee Steinfeld’s ‘Edge about Seventeen’ Role in imitation of Prepare for ‘Unpregnant’

Published Saturday, January 11, 2020 at 12:16 am

The actor also looks back at her time on ‘Split’ and shares what her former co-star taught her: “I literally would YouTube scenes of Hailee.”

After a string of acclaimed performances in Five Feet ApartSupport the Girls and Columbus, Haley Lu Richardson has solidified herself as one of Hollywood’s most talented up-and-coming actors. In her latest movie, Unpregnant, Richardson plays Veronica, a 17-year-old high school student whose world is turned upside down by a positive pregnancy test. Unpregnant was Richardson’s toughest challenge yet since she had to perform sensitive material involving teen pregnancy and reproductive rights within a road trip comedy. In order to thread the needle between two vastly different tones, Richardson referenced the performance that her friend and former co-star, Hailee Steinfeld, delivered in Kelly Fremon Craig’s The Edge of Seventeen. Richardson also starred in Edge, as Steinfeld’s character’s best friend.

“I found myself thinking about Hailee and her performance in The Edge of Seventeen,” Richardson tells The Hollywood Reporter. “She did a really similar thing with the tone of Edge of Seventeen, only she’s dealing with these really real things like the loss of her dad, depression and not fitting in in the world. She just did it so seamlessly, and I was like, ‘How the frick did she do that?’ When I was doing Unpregnant, I literally would YouTube scenes of Hailee in Edge of Seventeen… and get inspiration from her with the tone and how to balance that as an actor.  I actually called Hailee and had a really nice Facetime conversation with her while doing Unpregnant because I was watching all of these YouTube videos of her in Edge of Seventeen.”

Since reproductive rights have been debated for many decades, Richardson knew that her presence in this film was going to upset a lot of people who don’t believe in a woman’s right to choose. But, after careful consideration, she knew that it was a challenge worth accepting.

“I don’t know if hesitation is the right word, or nerves, but I was unsure if a topic like this could work within this teen movie, road trip, chaotic comedy tone. Obviously, it is sensitive, it is important and it is an extremely personal and real thing,” Richardson explains. “I was like, ‘I’m going to be doing this movie, and if I do it, then that’s opening myself up as a person to people hating me just because I’m in this movie.’ In general, I really don’t like hate in the world… I really try to just be understanding of people that are different than me. So it was definitely something that I put thought into, and before I said yes to this movie, I really wanted to figure out if it was something that I wholeheartedly thought that I could help in making it work. I wanted to help balance the tones and help reach the end goal of wanting the truth to come through in this wild movie. So I guess I was just up for the challenge, and I decided to do it.”

In a recent conversation with THR, Richardson also reflects on being in awe of James McAvoy’s performance on the set of Split and why Support the Girls was a much-needed reprieve from heavier roles.


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