Things You Didn't Know About Hailee Steinfeld

When she was still a teenager, actor and singer Hailee Steinfeld became a household name thanks to her portrayal of Mattie Ross in the 2010 remake of "True Grit." Since then, she's grown up in front of the camera, appearing in hit films such as "Pitch Perfect 2" and "The Edge of Seventeen." What's more, she's made her way to the small screen and has found success in the music world. And it seems like she's only just getting started. 

"I've gotten the opportunity to play some pretty bada** women in my career," the actor gushed to Cosmopolitan. "I feel so lucky to have played these young women who have a point of view and have a perspective and have a voice."

You may be familiar with her film credits and Top 40 hits, but there is a lot more to the Academy Award winner's story. From her "awkward" first kiss to her obsession with a certain fast-food staple, here are all the things you didn't know about Hailee Steinfeld.

Hailee Steinfeld's mom wanted her to take acting classes

Hailee Steinfeld knew early on that she wanted to be an actor. As a kid she saw her older cousin acting, appearing in commercials, and modeling, and she sensed that it was something she wanted to pursue. "To see my cousin doing that was really inspiring, and I wanted to do it," Steinfeld revealed to Vanity Fair.

So, the next thing she did was go to her mom and ask if she could do it, too. Her mom said yes, but there was one condition — acting classes. "For the acting part of it, she made me study for a year," Steinfeld shared with the publication. Only after she'd been to classes for a year (and done a year of modeling) did her mom agree it was time for the acting to begin. "I was eight years old when I started taking acting classes, when I started studying acting," she shared in W Magazine. "I got an agent at around nine." She told the outlet that she made her acting debut in "a guest-starring role in a sitcom called 'Back to You.'"

Steinfeld also appeared in a Soda Pop Girls commercial which, as she shared with Vanity Fair, was her "first time in front of the camera." Neither that TV spot nor that sitcom cameo would be her last time in front of the camera. It definitely seems like the year of acting classes paid off for the actor.

She learned a lot for her breakout role

Hailee Steinfeld landed a pretty grit, er, great gig in the 2010 Western "True Grit": Her turn as 14-year-old Mattie Ross in the film ended up earning her first Oscar nomination. However, the role was a bit of a learning curve for the young actor. "Rolling a cigarette and shooting a gun aren't like normal things for a 13-year-old girl!" she joked to Vanity Fair.

Thankfully, her co-stars were on hand to offer guidance — Jeff Bridges even helped her learn to roll cigarettes. "He gave me this little tip on how to make it easier — so I would go home at night and just constantly roll cigarettes all night so when I got to set the next day I was really good," Steinfeld recalled to the magazine. 

The character also gave Steinfeld the excuse to say words like "braggadocio," which she got a kick out of. As she said on NPR's "All Things Considered" in 2010, "It's kind of funny because I love the fact that the stuff that comes out of this girl's mouth is stuff that you would never hear from a 14-year-old girl." Heck, most adults don't say "braggadocio."

Hailee Steinfeld put cuss words to good use

Nothing compares to the confidence of a thirteen-year-old — and Hailee Steinfeld was no exception. As a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed teenager, Steinfeld wasn't too scared of, you know, acting opposite very famous movie stars in her feature debut.  "If I had to make [True Grit] now, I would be incredibly intimidated, but when I was thirteen ... I was like 'you should be intimidated of me,'" she joked in a 2017 video for W Magazine

However, she used her confidence wisely and took it upon herself to lay down the law on set with a "bad boy jar" for her the rest of the cast, which included Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, and Josh Brolin. "I charged $5 dollars for the 'f' word and a dollar for all the other words," she shared with Access Online in 2010. To make it fair, her co-stars decided she had to throw in a couple quarters every time she uttered the word "like." By the time they'd wrapped filming, the bad boy jar collected an impressive $350 dollars — that's quite a few likes and cuss words. Rather than pocketing the swear jar cash, she ended up giving that money away — and then some. "I matched it and donated it to Alzheimer's Foundation," she told Vulture. Cussin' for a cause.

Her first kiss was in front of the camera

First kisses on screen are pretty common and have been the case for quite a few child actors; Mila Kunis famously had her first kiss with her now-husband Ashton Kutcher on "That 70s Show." Hailee Steinfeld is no exception, as she had her first kiss during a student film called."My first kiss was actually on screen, [but] I don't consider [it] my first kiss," Steinfeld explained in a video for W Magazine. "I had to kiss two guys in it, so that was a lot for me. I went from kissing one boy to kissing another and I think I was 11 or 12," she added, noting that the whole experience was "very awkward." While one boy had to stand "on an apple box" to kiss her, the other "made a comment about like, 'I'm just going to pretend I'm kissing my mom.'" Yikes.

Sadly, Steinfeld's "first real kiss" wasn't much better. "It was a little messy," she admitted. What's worse, she hasn't been able to forget it in a hurry. It was "by my front door which kind of sucks because every time I walk through my front door I think about him." She told Cosmopolitan it took place before "going into 6th grade," and apparently, it wasn't one for the books. "I set my expectations waaay too high," she added. Wow, that sounds like a disappointing experience all round. Thankfully, Steinfeld has left the awkward kissing stage behind now.

Hailee Steinfeld always wanted to make music

Hailee Steinfeld always knew she wanted to have a music career alongside acting. "It was always there and always part of my plan," she revealed to Collider in 2017. "I started making music — writing and recording — around the same time I got into acting, which was... young." However, rather than try to launch a pop career the exact instant her film career took off, she wanted the pivot to feel more organic.

"I was secretly sort of hoping that the singing could happen [so] I could segue into it through a movie," she admitted to KTLA 5 a few years later. Ask and ye shall receive, right? "Sure enough, with 'Pitch Perfect 2,' I was given the opportunity to sing and show people that it was something that I loved," Steinfeld explained to Collider.

After starring in "Pitch Perfect," Steinfeld released "Flashlight," which was the hit song she sang in the film. "Then after that, I signed a record deal and I'm making music now," she said to Collider. Steinfeld released her debut album "Haiz" in 2016 and has since gone on to achieve major success with songs such as "Starving" and "Let Me Go."

She wasn't into The Edge of Seventeen at first

Hailee Steinfeld initially had no interest in the film "Besties" (later re-titled "The Edge of Seventeen") when the script crossed her path in 2015. In fact, Steinfeld unequivocally stated she did not want to act in teen movies. "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," she said in W Magazine.

However, Steinfeld had a change of heart when she finally gave it the time of day and read the script. "It changed my life," she revealed. The film, which is the story of being an outsider, was very relatable to the actor and she knew it was a story she wanted to tell. "It's a movie about what being a teenager really feels like today," Steinfeld said.

Once she fell in love with the script, Steinfeld set her sights on the role of Nadine... and so did a lot of other actors. As Entertainment Weekly noted, the casting department "considered close to 1,000 actresses" and she had to audition three times before she scored the part. Third time's a charm, clearly.

Her homeschool experience shaped her performance

Like a lot of child actors, Hailee Steinfeld was homeschooled. While it wasn't always the best experience, she said being homeschooled from the sixth grade onward helped her better wrap her mind around Nadine, her character in "The Edge of Seventeen." "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 admitted to W Magazine.

Filming for "The Edge of Seventeen" took place in an actual high school while school was still very much in session, but Steinfeld said she didn't enjoy the experience. When "kids would be filling the hallways," she told Variety she felt completely out of place. "I was like, 'This is what anxiety really feels like,'" the actor said.

In a 2016 Seventeen interview, Steinfeld opened up about the bullying she experienced while still attending school, which ranged from prank calls to physical threats and harassment. While traumatic, these experiences no doubt helped Steinfeld relate to her character's isolation and hopelessness.

Hailee Steinfeld waited a while to get her ears pierced

Even some of Hailee Steinfeld's biggest fans might not know that it took the actor slash singer 22 years to decide she wanted to get her ears pierced. Sure, she wore earrings to premieres and award shows and whatnot before that, but they weren't the type of earrings that actually go through the lobe. "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 said to PopSugar in 2016.

So what's the reason she waited so long to get her ears pierced? Well, apparently Steinfeld's mom wanted her to be the one to make the call once she was older. "[But] now that I'm old enough, I've decided I'm too indecisive," the "Romeo & Juliet" star explained.

However, after a few more years of indecision, Steinfeld decided to make a decision. As she told Wired, she just "woke up one day" wanting a change in her life. In 2019, she determined it was officially time to get her ears pierced and even posted a video on Instagram to commemorate the momentous occasion.

Self-care is important to Hailee Steinfeld

Hailee Steinfeld always finds time in her busy schedule for self-care. As she shared with Rookie in 2015, that can mean "not doing anything," listening to music, or journaling. The actor and singer finds writing to be one of the best ways to express her feelings and said it's something she does most days. "I have some form of paper and pen in my bag at all times and I jot down anything I'm feeling. Even if it's just notes in my phone, I'll write something in," she told the outlet.

Steinfeld also finds that working out is one of the best things for managing her mental health, "even if it's just 15 minutes," she said in Shape. "I always feel like spending time in the gym is a relief. I go in and put my headphones in and kind of just separate myself from everything for a while ... I definitely walk away feeling more relaxed," she explained.

Steinfeld said she got her love of fitness from her dad, who is a personal trainer at home and on set. "He taught me many years ago how to kickbox," she recalled on "Today." As a thank you, she wanted him to be in her "Most Girls" music video. "I had him on set to make sure I was doing everything right, and then snuck him in the video," she said.

Hailee Steinfeld's favorite souvenir is edible

As an actor and a singer, Hailee Steinfeld travels a lot for work, and wherever she goes, she always has a burger. "It's kind of my go-to thing," she shared with "On Air With Ryan Seacrest." "It's safe to say I've had a cheeseburger in every part of the world I've ever been in."

Lest anyone think she saves the burgers for when she's off the clock, Steinfeld also enjoyed a patty or two during the making of Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood," which may or may not be one of the more star-studded music videos in recent pop music history. "The coolest part about the 'Bad Blood' video is that there was In-N-Out Burger on set," she revealed to Capital FM. "So right before, you know, we did our thing as like these awesome bada** women playing all these different parts, we were chowing down on some Double-Doubles."

The "Dickinson" star has eaten burgers with A-Listers and chowed down all over the world, but what does she actually like in her bun? "I'm actually embarrassingly plain," she admitted to Vice. "I will literally just have a cheeseburger with no lettuce, no tomato, no sauce — I don't like sauces very much — and that's it." Well, if it's good enough for Steinfeld, it's good enough for us too, right?

Why filming Bumblebee was 'a challenge'

Hailee Steinfeld learned to shoot a gun for "True Grit" and was challenged emotionally in "The Edge of Seventeen," but that didn't compare to what she had to do for the "Transformers" spinoff "Bumblebee." For most of the film, Steinfeld's scene partner was nothing more than a "tennis ball on a stick," which was a pretty big learning curve for the actor. "It's definitely up there on my list of things I didn't think I could do until I did it. It was definitely a challenge," she revealed on "Today."

In the flick, Steinfeld's character Charlie rescues and restores the lone Transformer Bumblebee, who was created using CGI... which meant she acted in a lot of scenes by herself. "With 'Transformers,' being in the real world, having every element except the one that actually might matter the most, is quite difficult," she admitted to MTV News.

However, being the first female protagonist in the franchise made her all the more determined to do a good job, even during the scenes she did alone. "To play this particular role and to be able to tell our own kind of 'Transformers' story is really what is so special," explained the actor. Steinfeld also noted how much she loved that it felt like "an honest portrayal of a young female growing up."

Why Hailee Steinfeld veered from 'the film route'

"I love the film route and I'm going to try my hardest to stay on it," Hailee Steinfeld told Vanity Fair in 2010. For the most part, she has stuck to that statement during her career, which has now spanned more than a decade. In that time, Steinfeld has starred in films like "Ender's Game" alongside Asa Butterfield and Harrison Ford, and she has voiced the character of Gwen Stacy in "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse" and its sequel.

However, despite her love of films, "Dickinson" and "Hawkeye" were two incredible television opportunities she couldn't pass up. For "Dickinson," the script had a lot to do with her choice to transition into TV. "When I read the script, I felt that it was so different and cool and shocking and heartbreaking and exciting and empowering," she explained to DuJour, also noting that it felt like a very meaningful project she had to pursue.

When it came to "Hawkeye," Steinfeld saw it as a once in a lifetime opportunity. In 2017, she told MTV UK she had "be a superhero" on her "bucket list" and — although she initially expressed interest in playing Batgirl in the DC movie universe — Steinfeld found the perfect role in "Hawkeye's" Kate Bishop. The actor said in Cosmopolitan she even had a little cry in her car when she found out she scored the part because it was all so overwhelming. As she shared in a featurette for Disney+, she felt very "excited" and "lucky" to join the MCU.

How Dickinson inspired Hailee Steinfeld

Hailee Steinfeld didn't always pen her own music. "I would sit in writing sessions and I would be curious, and ask questions, and be fascinated by how the whole thing worked, but I didn't physically write," she explained to Rookie. The singer added that writing music was something she wanted to take the time to learn and didn't feel she had to dive straight into.

Steinfeld did start composing her own music around the time she released her first album "Haiz," in 2016. However, she wasn't fully confident in putting her writing out there at the time. In fact, she said it made her feel incredibly exposed. "There's this sense of vulnerability — in that that's my name and my voice and my experience, not a character," Steinfeld admitted.

However, being around so much poetry on "Dickinson" gave the actor-singer a new appreciation for her own writing ability. "I was really inspired by her," Steinfeld gushed to DuJour. "I feel like I can write anything and everything and nothing is wrong, and there's no reason to hold back."

Hailee Steinfeld became a producer on Dickinson

Hailee Steinfeld wears many showbiz hats. In addition to being an actor, singer, and model, she became a producer on "Dickinson." She was drawn to the series straight away, eager to give the project as much as she could. "I wanted to show up as something more than just an actor. I wanted to be a part of this on a deeper level," she said in The Hollywood Reporter. The multi-hyphenate admitted she can be very picky when it comes to projects and what she spends her time on, so when she finds something she loves, she wants to go all-in. "I truly felt like this was so different from anything that I had read," she said.

"Dickinson" showrunner Alena Smith welcomed Steinfeld's contributions on set. "As a producer, Hailee contributed in many ways to the show," Smith explained to Entertainment Weekly. She noted that Steinfeld engaged with everything from costume and set design, to music, to editorial choices while also working hard to be "a leader on set and always [set] a tone of dedication and positivity that inspired others around her to aim high." Like we said, she wears a lot of hats.

Hailee Steinfeld studied archery for the MCU

Hailee Steinfeld has landed the gig of her dreams. As she told Cosmopolitan, being part of the MCU as Kate Bishop in the Disney+ series "Hawkeye" is a career highlight. The show, which is about Kate and her relationship with the retired Avenger Clint Barton, will see the young archer take on the Hawkeye mantle and become the newest bow-and-arrow-wielding avenger.

Since the role meant so much to her — and she spends most of her time in the show with a bow and arrow in her hand — Steinfeld wanted to make sure her archery technique was perfect. "I'd watched so many videos of actors and professional archers doing it, so by the time I got to the archery range ... I knew what the heck I was doing," she explained in Entertainment Weekly. "[I] felt ready to go [but] my instructor looked at me and was just like, 'Okay. We got work to do,'" she recalled. Ouch, maybe you can't actually learn everything from YouTube videos.

However, it seems like Steinfeld going all-in with her training might have been overkill, anyway. "The first time we met, Jeremy [Renner] was like, 'Listen, you're going to get there and you're not even shooting a real arrow, it's all CGI,'" Steinfeld said in EW. Despite that, Steinfeld said she was "still grateful to have the mechanics down." CGI or not, her bow and arrow work is right on target.