What You Didn't Know About Hailee Steinfeld

Hailee Steinfeld has certainly made her mark in Hollywood over the past decade – an amazing feat considering Steinfeld was born in 1996. The actor began by appearing in short films but quickly shot to fame with her acclaimed role in "True Grit" opposite Jeff Bridges. Since then, she has tackled pretty much every genre — from action fantasy flicks like "Ender's Game" and "Bumblebee" to musical comedies like "Pitch Perfect 2" and its follow up, Steinfeld has shown true versatility with her choices in projects.

In addition to a thriving acting career, Steinfeld is also a pop star, with two albums and a number of hit singles under her belt. Still, it is her acting that has most often taken center stage, and it will continue to do so with the exciting projects she has coming up. Fresh off the tail end of her Apple TV+ series "Dickinson," Steinfeld will next appear in a lead role in the much-anticipated "Hawkeye" miniseries from Marvel studios. She will then voice Gwen Stacey in "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse 2."

With such early fame, it is amazing that Steinfeld has been able to remain grounded. She idolizes her older brother (per Wired), relaxes by journaling, and waxes poetically about her love of cheeseburgers (via "On Air With Ryan Seacrest"). At the same time, she is also a serious actor who has taken up everything from cigarette rolling to guitar to archery for her roles. Here's what you didn't know about Hailee Steinfeld.

She started acting at a young age

Steinfeld developed an interest in performing very young, inspired by an older cousin who was doing commercials and modeling at the time (per Vanity Fair). Since she was only eight, Steinfeld's mother requested that she take acting classes for a year before going out on any auditions. According to an interview Steinfeld did with W magazine, her first print agent came when she was nine, and that is how she got her start in the industry (her first modeling gig was for Gap).

Acting came a year or two later, though Steinfeld's mom filled the role of agent at first (per Flaunt). Her first role was in a doll commercial, though Steinfeld considers a guest stint on "Back to You" as her first "acting job" (via W). "I played a weather girl," she told the magazine. "I don't even know that I had a name. I was the weather girl. Kelsey Grammer, Patricia Heaton. It was a fun one." After that came a couple of short films, though it was not long until Steinfeld shot to fame with her first movie role, 2010's "True Grit."

Hailee Steinfeld was nominated for an Oscar for her first movie

Beyond the fantastic performance she gives in the film, another reason "True Grit" put Steinfeld on the map is the fact that she earned herself an Academy Award nomination for the role. This made her one of the all-time youngest Oscar nominees in the Best Supporting Actress category (she was 14 at the time). Steinfeld was also nominated at the British Academy and Film Television Awards, the Critic's Choice Awards, and the Screen Actors Guild Awards, and she won roughly a dozen critics accolades, as of this writing.

According to Bustle, Steinfeld was one of 15,000 actors who auditioned for the role of Mattie Ross, a stalwart girl out for revenge. "I went in dressed in character, and [showed] what my vision of this character was. And I really think that's what it was, is my vision kind of clicked with [the Coen Brothers']," Steinfeld told NPR back in 2010. From there, things moved very quickly — Steinfeld has said that the film was shot and released within the same year as her first awards circuit (via W).

And while it took Steinfeld a while to fully process everything, she looks back on the experience with fond memories. She also has a deeper appreciation for the film, which she told Interview magazine she did not realize was funny at the time of filming. "I didn't get it then and now I do feel like I'm able to detach and see what an incredible piece that really is," she said in the 2016 interview.

She had to learn adult things for True Grit

Steinfeld learned to play the guitar for her role in "Begin Again," a 2013 musical dramedy co-starring Mark Ruffalo as her father, and Keira Knightley as a singer-songwriter he discovers (per Wired). But for her breakout role in "True Grit," the youngster had to learn far less age-appropriate behavior. First, she had to learn to roll a cigarette for her part in the Western. "I worked with one of the prop heads, and he was telling me and he would teach me how to do it," Steinfeld told Vanity Fair in an interview. "I would do it sitting down, and I realized in the scene that I had to do it I had to do it standing up, and that was ten times harder than I thought it was going to be."

Steinfeld also told the magazine that Jeff Bridges helped her learn proper cigarette rolling technique, but when it came to shooting a gun — another task she needed to master — Steinfeld's father took the lead. "I went to the shooting range, and it was good and I shot it, and obviously it has a kick," she said. "It was really helpful because when I was filming the scene where I actually had to shoot, there is no kick with a blank, so I knew what it was like and everything. Everything just fell into place." While rolling cigs and shooting guns are not exactly behaviors we want our youth to mimic, Steinfeld's commitment to authenticity was obvious early on.

Hailee Steinfeld is very into working out

Steinfeld is all about self-care, and she has a variety of methods for relaxing, including using candles, getting massages, and taking walks (via Shape). But when it comes to mental health, she has stated to Allure that working out is the only thing that keeps her balanced. In the May 2020 article, Steinfeld said that she tries to work out five or six times per week. "I always feel like spending time in the gym is a relief," she said in a separate article for Shape magazine. "I go in and put my headphones in and kind of just separate myself from everything for a while. It's kind of like a safe zone in a way. I definitely walk away feeling more relaxed."

When she is in the gym, Steinfeld alternates between a variety of activities including swimming, running, and using machines like the elliptical and spin bike. She told Shape that circuit training and kickboxing are her favorites. It makes sense that Steinfeld would be a fitness fan, given that her father is a full-time trainer — and a constant source of motivation. "I think a lot of the time, he's just there as my cheerleader and major supporter," Steinfeld told a reporter for "Access Hollywood" in 2018, while also admitting that her dad can get tough when she asks him to help her prep for a tour. "That's when I get Pete, not my dad," she said.

She auditioned three times for The Edge of Seventeen

Steinfeld may have been nominated for an Oscar for her first movie role, but that does not mean that all parts were hers for the picking. The actor still needed to audition for roles, and she was thoughtful with her choices. When Steinfeld first got the script for "The Edge of Seventeen," the movie was called "Besties" — an awful title which may have contributed to her reluctance to embrace it. "I remember hearing about this and feeling like 'Oh God, I'm going to be 19, I'm going to be 20 soon. I don't want to backpedal in any way. I don't want to do a teen movie.' And I am so guilty of having judged the book by its cover," she told W magazine.

The movie's director Kelly Fremon Craig told Entertainment Weekly that casting took a year, and that nearly a thousand actors were considered for the lead role of Nadine in the 2016 film. Steinfeld had to audition three times, and supposedly pushed for the role because she thought it would help "shred her good-girl image" (per Entertainment Weekly). "It never really felt like an audition; it was more of a conversation," she told W magazine. "Sometimes you walk out and you feel like regardless, that was really cool. And with this, it was sort of like oh my god – are they going to call me back for another, like, five hours? This is insane." Steinfeld was told she booked the role before she even walked out of the room during her final audition.

She was homeschooled starting in sixth grade

A lot of interviewers asked Steinfeld about her own school experiences when she starred in "The Edge of Seventeen," which is understandable given that it was a coming-of-age story, but it turns out that Steinfeld did not have a lot to draw from when it came to school, as she was homeschooled starting in the middle of the sixth grade. Even still, she found that her experience worked for her process. "In a way I felt like that worked towards my benefit for this movie because I really sort of understood that feeling of isolation and alienation when you're placed in the middle of a high school and you don't know where to look or where to go or who to try and be friends with," she told W magazine.

Steinfeld has also been vocal about the bullying she experienced as a youngster — bullying that actually contributed to her moving to homeschooling in the first place — which allowed her to relate to the character's feeling of disjointedness from others. She revealed to Seventeen magazine that, at one point, she was getting threatening phone calls from bullies each morning. "So I went to school early and went in the back way. And there would be times when I'd come back to my desk and have hand sanitizer all over my books and in my water bottle," she said in the interview. "People would come by and slam my locker shut when I was still putting my books in it."

She waited for the right moment to integrate singing into her career

Steinfeld started singing around the same time she started acting, even though she was not always sure when or how singing would fit into the picture. According to an interview she did with The Stanford Daily, Steinfeld started singing lessons as a youth, and she also learned how to write music early by working with family friends who are music producers. "But until I was given, really, the perfect opportunity to segue into the music with it making sense, it [became] more of a side project," she said.

In an interview with Collider, Steinfeld said she had always wanted singing to organically fit in with her movie roles — though she was not sure how that would work until she found the perfect opportunity. "Sure enough with 'Pitch Perfect 2,' I was given the opportunity to sing and show people that it was something that I loved. Then after that, I signed a record deal and I'm making music now," she said. That was in December 2017, and since then, Steinfeld has become a big name in pop music. Since releasing her debut song "Love Myself," Steinfeld has had a number of other singles on the charts, including "Rock Bottom," "Starving," "Most Girls," and "Let Me Go."

Hailee Steinfeld took on a producing role on Dickinson

Steinfeld ventured into television with her starring role on the Apple TV+ series "Dickinson," which began in 2019 and is airing its third season as of this writing (which will be its last, per Forbes). The series was one of Apple TV+'s first, debuting alongside "The Morning Show" and a few others when Apple TV+ launched on November 1, 2019. "It's this new turn in our world — everything is streaming. When I knew that this was Apple's first experience in the TV world, it just felt so exciting to me that it would be mine and theirs together," Steinfeld told The Hollywood Reporter.

Not only is this her first series regular television role, but it also marks Steinfeld's first foray into producing. She is an executive producer on the program, which seems to have given her a new appreciation for the development process. "I wanted to be included in ways other than showing up on set and delivering lines. I wanted to understand what it was going to take to make this come to life and do what I could to help that," she told Awards Daily. "I've definitely taken for granted that when a movie ends and the credits roll, you walk out and the lights come up. You don't always know what it takes to pull off something great." While Steinfeld told The Hollywood Reporter she wanted to keep producing, she is not a producer on the upcoming "Hawkeye" miniseries on which she will appear.

Dickinson has given her a new appreciation for poetry

Though she plays the famed nineteenth-century poet (and feminist) Emily Dickinson in "Dickinson," Steinfeld did not grow up appreciating poetry. She told Wonderland magazine that she had only vague familiarity with Dickinson's work based upon her schooling, and that her casting has led to her newfound love for the writer's poems. "Between my computer, my phone and the books that work their way onto my bedside tables, I'm surrounded by them. I find that I will come across them and they always make me smile. And they always make me think, which is why I love her poetry," she said in an interview for the Shondaland website.

She cites "Wild Nights" as her favorite of Dickinson's poems, based at least partially upon her experiences with the show (per Awards Daily). She said in an interview that she loves the episode associated with the poem, and that the word "wild" has now taken up prime territory in her everyday vocabulary. "I've never found that I've read a poem [of Dickinson's] once and understood it. I love that they keep you coming back in that regard," Steinfeld said in that same Shondaland interview. One side benefit to playing Dickinson has been how Steinfeld has been able to improve her own writing (when it comes to her music). "I feel like I can write anything and everything and nothing is wrong, and there's no reason to hold back. I was really inspired by her," she said in DuJour.

She loves journaling and songwriting

Writing is something that Steinfeld has always enjoyed doing, and she has admitted to always having a pen and paper in her bag when she is out and about (per Rookie magazine). In fact, she counts journaling — which she says she did "all through school" — amongst her passions. "They're under my bed at your house," Steinfeld told her mom of her journals, in a discussion the two had for an article in Allure. "If we go on a trip, I document all of that for us. [But] I think that there are parts of my life that aren't documented that I probably should still for myself," she added.

Practice with writing about her experiences and feelings has been critical in Steinfeld's own progression from singing others' songs to singing her own. When she first started her professional music career, Steinfeld would be present for the writing process, but not contribute herself. Though she told Rookie magazine that she mostly just used to ask questions and observe, Steinfeld started writing professionally around the time of her second album "Haiz," a process which she feels leaves her even more exposed than acting. "There's this sense of vulnerability — in that that's my name and my voice and my experience, not a character, no matter how much I've related to that character or identified with that character," she said. Her writing collaborators have included many big names in the industry, including mega producer Ryan Tedder (of OneRepublic) and singer-songwriter Julia Michaels.

Hailee Steinfeld had her first kiss on screen

While the vast majority of on-screen kisses have to be incredibly awkward to film, we can only imagine what it would be like to have to kiss another actor before you even experience your first kiss in "real" life. Yet this is actually a rather common occurrence for child stars and, according to Insider, big names like Millie Bobby Brown ("Stranger Things"), Ben Savage ("Boy Meets World"), and Mila Kunis ("That '70s Show") all had their first kisses in front of the camera. Steinfeld is also a part of this group, though it is fair to say that her first kiss came well before Kunis' first, given that Kunis was 14 when "That '70s Show" started.

Steinfeld was only a preteen when she had to pucker up with cameras rolling, as she detailed for W magazine in a video posted to YouTube. And while she also said she does not consider that to be her actual first kiss, she clearly details the nerves that she felt having to kiss not one, but two, boys in the short film "She's A Fox." Love scenes seemed to run a bit smoother as she matured, as evidenced by a 2013 interview she did for "Romeo and Juliet" alongside her co-star Douglas Booth. "It sort of became a smaller thing on the list of things that we had to worry about, I think," the actor told J-14 of their kiss on a balcony, which was the first scene the pair shot.

She did not get her ears pierced until she was 22

Steinfeld is a fan of keeping up with hot fashions, and has been seen attending both fashion week and the Met Gala more than once (per Elle UK). But one area of fashion in which she could not partake for a long while was in new and fashionable ear accessories, as she did not get her ears pierced until she was out of her teens. "I've worn clip-ons before to events, which is always super nerve-racking because I'm paranoid they're going to fall off," she told PopSugar in 2016. "I'm just constantly touching my ears to make sure they're still there. My mom wanted me to be old enough to make my own decisions about piercing my ears, and now that I'm old enough, I've decided I'm too indecisive. So that's where I'm at."

Cut to 2019, when Steinfeld did, in fact, make the decision to get her ears pierced — and share the experience with the world. The actor posted an Instagram video detailing the process on April 18 of that year, with the simple caption, "I finally did it." She discussed her decision later that year in a Wired YouTube video, explaining that she just "woke up one day" and felt game for it. "So rebellious, I know," she joked in the video.

She studied archery for her role as Kate Bishop

In the 2021 "Hawkeye" miniseries, Steinfeld plays Kate Bishop, who becomes the protégé of Clint Barton, the current Hawkeye and a master archer. Kate is herself a strong archer, and so, archery is a skill that Steinfeld worked to hone before showing up on set. She may have gone into it with a false sense of confidence, however. "I'd watched so many videos of actors and professional archers doing it, so by the time I got to the archery range for the very first time, I literally picked up the bow like I knew what the heck I was doing, loaded the arrow, and felt ready to go," Steinfeld told Entertainment Weekly. "My instructor looked at me and was just like, 'Okay. We got work to do.'"

Steinfeld studying archery is another example of her meticulous attention to detail. She took lessons specifically to learn the mechanics, knowing full well that all arrows in the film would be launched using CGI technology and not her own arm (per Entertainment Weekly). There may have been an added benefit, though, as Steinfeld hopes to keep flinging arrows as a hobby. "Ever since I got home from shooting, I've been trying to figure out where I could stack some hay bales and put up a new archery target," she said.