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Why Hannah From Netflix's Lou Looks So Familiar

The Netflix film, "Lou," released on September 23, 2022, features an all-star cast including Allison Janney, Logan Marshall-Green, and character actor Matt Craven. Behind the scenes, the film was produced by mega-producer J.J. Abrams for his Bad Robot label. The film was directed by Anna Foerster, who worked in the camera department for Roland Emmerich ("The Day After Tomorrow") for most of his movies and made her directorial debut in "Underworld: Blood Wars" (via IMDb.) "Lou" is about a young girl who is kidnapped during a massive storm. Her mother enlists the help of a neighbor with a mysterious past to help her track down the kidnappers. Secrets and connections to their past arise as they go on this journey. 

A central character in the story, Hannah, is a single mother desperate to find her child. When she enlists the help of Lou (Janney,) she has to put aside some hostile feelings she harbors towards her neighbor. Lou and Hannah often have to rely on each other, and in the case of the missing child, they have to put aside their differences to figure out who took Hannah's child and why. Fans may naturally wonder why the actress who plays the mother, Hannah, looks so familiar.

Hannah in "Lou" is played by actress Jurnee Smollett. She told The Mary Sue of working with a ripped Allison Janney on the film, "I think we individually did so much preparation and Allison, obviously, with the physicality and I spent a lot of time at a domestic survivor shelter called Jenesse Shelter here just trying to research my backstory. But I think, as two actors, you come together and you crash. You just have to speak the truth." 

The actress has an extensive filmography and has appeared in plenty of other projects you've likely seen before.

Jurnee Smollett had her breakout role when she was just 10 years old

Jurnee Smollett had a breakout role when she was just 10 years old, playing the titular character in the acclaimed 1997 drama "Eve's Bayou." The film stars Samuel L. Jackson, who also produced, and Lynn Whitfield. Set in 1960s Louisiana, the movie is about the lies spread between a family after a little girl accidentally witnesses her father's adultery. Smollett told Vanity Fair that she was very grateful for that role, saying, "Just honoring that she had a point of view and that she had an inner light meant a lot. It didn't dawn on me at the time, but it was quite radical to put that onscreen."

She appreciated that the film "centered around Black life," and she continued, "How radical it was to center Black life in the South, and to center it without it being in direct response to whiteness." "Eve's Bayou" is the first film by director Kasi Lemmons. Smollett said of the experience working with her, "I initially thought it was quite common for a Black woman to be the director, to be the captain of the ship, to be the filmmaker. But as I grew up and started having the opposite experience, I became very aware of how rare that was. And I gained a level of appreciation for my craft being rooted in that." The film was brought into the National Film Registry in 2018.

Jurnee Smollett guest starred on True Blood

Jurnee Smollett's first collaboration with HBO came with her guest starring role on the popular vampire series "True Blood." She appeared as Nicole in Seasons 6 and 7 of the show as a love interest for shapeshifter and bar owner Sam Merlotte. Smollett told Entertainment Weekly that the set of a horror show could be a pretty funny place. She said, "It's funny because you're just walking to the stage sometimes and you'll just see someone covered in blood just eating some chicken as if it's nothing!"

She didn't think she'd get the chance to be on the show because she had to send in an audition tape on the fly. She continued, "Literally my husband and I just went into the basement of his mom's house with the loud water heater and the baby crying upstairs — You can hear people walking around on my audition tape and the baby's yelling, you could hear the chairs being moved." Once cast and on the set, the cast made her feel at home even though she joined the series late into its run. Smollett mentioned about joining the cast, "Everyone gave me big hugs, some were fans of 'Friday Night Lights' and others were just so warm, so enthusiastic."

Jurnee Smollett played Black Canary in Birds of Prey

In early 2020, Jurnee Smollett starred in her biggest feature film performance. She played the superhero Black Canary in "Birds of Prey." According to an interview with Marie Claire, Smollett thought there was no way she was going to get the role due to her commitment to filming "Lovecraft Country." That show's creator, Misha Green, thought there may be a gap in filming and told her to go after the role.

When asked if she had familiarity with the comic book character prior to auditioning, Smollett said, "I knew her from 'Injustice 2,' the video game, which I played once in a while with my husband." After the audition tape was sent in, she said the studio, "Responded to it very enthusiastically and asked if I could come to L.A. to meet with the director, Cathy Yan. That went well. They asked for me to do a chemistry read with Margot [Robbie]. That went well."

Smollett said of the character, "Black Canary was just so second nature to me. I just inherently understood her." The film was released about a month before the pandemic shutdowns of 2020, and this cut into the film's box office receipts. In an interview with NME, Smollett talked about the film's overall success, saying, "Do the fans love it? Yes. Did the studio make its money back? Yes, job well done."

Jurnee Smollett is an Emmy nominated actress

After guest starring in an episode of producer Jordan Peele's reboot of "The Twilight Zone" and starring in showrunner Misha Green's WGN America series "Underground," she worked with both of them on HBO's hit series, "Lovecraft Country." Her role as Leti garnered her an Emmy nomination in 2021.

When Smollett began working with Green on "Underground", she told The Hollywood Reporter, "We did the pilot and I hated her." During the first two months of filming that show, the two couldn't stand each other. They admit it was due to differences in communication, and once they found common ground, they became close friends.

After she got a look at her friend Green's script for "Lovecraft Country," Smollett says, "I was so wildly convinced that there was no ... person who could play Leti Lewis but me that I became obsessed." Green, however, did not want to work with the same actors that she had worked with before. Smollett became frustrated, as she really wanted the role, and she thought to herself, "'Does she not see that I am Leti Lewis? Does she not think I can stretch and do a different character?' I mean, I was freaking out, literally losing sleep for months."

She inevitably did get the role and was nominated for an Emmy for her performance. She told W when she found out about the nomination, "I still can't believe it. I got the call when I was in hair and makeup on the set of "Lou", and I was like, 'What's the bad news?' [Laughs] But I screamed!" She went on to say about "Lovecraft," "I'm incredibly proud of the art that we created together, and the literal blood, sweat, and tears that we shed to put this piece of art out into the world."