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Helena Howard On How She 'Actualized' Her Latest Role - Exclusive

The life of a film actor may seem glamorous from the outside, but there's an element of insecurity to it, especially as one's career is ramping up. Every role is treasured, but when it's done, you're on to the next audition, and facing the uncertainty that comes with wondering whether you'll get that part for which you know you're just perfect. Rare is the time when an actor is able to pick and choose as they're making their name in Hollywood, and even rarer is that moment when you discover the role you want by chance, decide it's yours, and land it.

It does happen, though, and Exhibit A is Helena Howard's latest effort in the indie film Shoplifters of the World. Set on the fateful 1987 night when iconic British rock band The Smiths announced their breakup, the movie follows a group of friends on the cusp of true adulthood as they share one last hang together and mourn the loss of their musical idols. Howard, most recently seen in the Amazon original series The Wilds, plays Cleo, Shoplifters of the World's main character and emotional center. According to the actor, a Smiths fan through and through, ending up in the role may have been more than a mere right-place-right-time sort of thing, as we discovered when we sat down with her for an exclusive interview prior to the film's release.

How Helena Howard and Shoplifters of the World found each other

For Howard, discovering the existence of Shoplifters of the World was kismet. "It's actually really funny," she recalls. "I was watching American Honey because it was recommended to me. And then when it was done, I got curious to search Sasha Lane on IMDb, as you do. And I saw that she was going to be filming this film called Shoplifters of the World about The Smiths. And I was like, 'Wait, is she even a Smiths fan? How are you going to make a movie about The Smiths if you're not even a real Smiths fan?'"

This led the actor down something of a rabbit hole in pursuit of the project. "I was doing all this research on the internet, and it was like, 'Yeah, this film's supposed to be filming, but it hasn't been filming, blah, blah, blah,'" she says. "And then a week later, I get an email with an offer for the same movie that I see she was attached to, for the same role. And I'm thinking, 'Wait, wait, wait, wait, is the universe doing something weird? Is there like a rip in the time continuum? What is going on?' So yeah, that's what drew me to the project. And I didn't even know that we were going to come together, but I actualized it."

If you want to see the results of this cosmic connection between actor and role, check out Shoplifters of the World, currently in select theaters, on demand, and digital.