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Why Stella From Five Feet Apart Looks So Familiar

If history has taught us anything, it's that Netflix loves a good romantic teen drama, with the streaming giant ensuring the world will be flush with star-crossed tales of young love being tested by one dramatic turn or another for the foreseeable future. Nonetheless, even as Netflix feverishly bolsters its slate of originals with weepy teen romances, they continue to front such stories produced by other studios. They've even just added a recent hit many believe to be a modern classic of the genre. 

Said film is "Five Feet Apart," and it finds the desires of would-be lovers Stella and Will tested by the fact that they both suffer from cystic fibrosis, a condition which requires them to remain a safe distance apart for fear of cross-infection.

As far as plots from teen romantic dramas go, you're not likely to find one better suited to the genre. And "Five Feet Apart" makes the most of that setup, largely thanks to the work of its young stars Cole Sprouse and Haley Lu Richardson, who no doubt look familiar to most viewers. Sprouse is, of course, largely recognized for his work as Jughead on the CW's wacko teen melodrama "Riverdale." As for Richardson, she's a star on the rise with a few impressive credits under her belt. Here's why Stella from "Five Feet Apart" looks so familiar.  

Support the Girls found Haley Lu Richardson playing a hilariously bubbly waitress

While "Five Feet Apart" takes full adavantage of Haley Lu Richardson's boundless dramatic chops, the actor proved in a tragically overlooked 2018 indie that she's every bit as accomplished in the comedic realm. That film was Andrew Bujalski's magnificent day-in-the-life dramedy "Support the Girls," which found a never better Regina Hall portraying the beleaguered general manager of a road-side sports bar best known for its scantily clad waitresses.

Yes, Haley Lu Richarson was one of the scantily clad servers at the aptly named "Double Whammies" bar and grill in the film. And yes, her work as the perpetually bubbly bar maven Maci in the film is the very definition of scene stealing. As for the film itself, "Support the Girls" was praised by many as one of 2019's unsung delights, with critics bestowing on the micro-budget indie a super fresh rating of 91% at Rotten Tomatoes. And if you want to check it out for yourself, "Support the Girls" is currently available to stream on Hulu.    

Haley Lu Richardson marveled at local architecture in Columbus

It's safe to say even die-hard fans of "Five Feet Apart" would agree the film errs unabashedly on the side of melodrama. While Haley Lu Richardson clearly excels in such fare, her work in the 2017 indie "Columbus" was proof positive that she's even better when she can underplay the drama. 

Set entirely in the confines of Columbus, Indiana (an unexpected mecca for fans of modernist architecture), "Columbus" finds Richardson playing Casey, a local of the famed town, and an architecture enthusiast who works at the library to support her recovering addict mother (Michelle Forbes) as she dreams of designing her own modernist buildings. Her fate changes ever-so-slightly when she strikes up a friendship with Jin (John Cho), a literary translator in town to help tend to his estranged father, a famed architect who fell into a coma while visiting Columbus to give a lecture.

Directed with lavish visual flair and beautifully muted drama by newcomer Kogonada, "Columbus" finds both Richardson and Cho in top form, and lending a penetrating authenticity to this low-key, walking and talking marvel — which boasts a 97% fresh critical rating of its own on Rotten Tomatoes, by the way.

Haley Lu Richardson was held captive by the burgeoning beast in Split

If you're not up on your indie cinema of late, it's still quite likely you've seen Haley Lu Richardson at work on the big screen, as 2016 found the then relatively-unknown actor working with genre guru M. Night Shyamalan in what many considered the director's great cinematic comeback — that being "Split," the "Unbreakable" sequel in disguise, which found James McAvoy portraying a troubled man plagued by the 23 separate personalities who live inside his head, whose life is further complicated by the possibility of an extremely dangerous — and perhaps supernatural — 24th identity emerging.

In seeking to appease the coming of that 24th personality (named The Beast), one of the man's personalities kidnaps three teenaged girls to offer as tribute. Richardson was indeed one of those girls, portraying Claire in the film, and imbuing the character with a haughty, not quite mean girl humanity that's wonderfully at odds with her no BS, survive at all costs friend Casey (breakout star Anya Taylor-Joy). And even as Richardson's work takes a back seat to that of both McAvoy and Taylor-Joy throughout, she still delivers a memorable turn as a suburban teen who is clearly way out of her element.

The Edge of Seventeen was Haley Lu Richardson's big screen breakout

Lest you think "Five Feet Apart" marked Haley Lu Richardson's first foray into the realm of teen drama, you should know the actor actually got her first legit big screen break in just such a film. Said film was the 2016 dramedy "The Edge of Seventeen," which found future "Hawkeye" star Hailee Steinfeld portraying Nadine, a fiercely intelligent, fiercely opinionated, and endearingly awkward teen struggling to make her way through the increasingly complicated high school landscape.

Things get more complicated for Nadine when her star athlete older brother Darian (Blake Jenner) begins dating her best — and only — friend Krista, played by Haley Lu Richardson. If you've already seen "The Edge of Seventeen," you know Richardson positively shines in the supporting role, and that her chemistry with Steinfeld is palpable enough to make one believe it extended well beyond the edges of the screen. And if you haven't yet caught up with "The Edge of Seventeen," the film's glowing critical consensus (via Rotten Tomatoes) should be enough to convince anyone it's among the best coming of age flicks produced in the last decade.