Sunday, January 16, 2011

Hailee Steinfeld's Next Film -- Could It Be 'The Hunger Games?'

Hailee Steinfeld is no longer just the girl from the K-Mart Blingitude commercial or the young actress from a handful of short films for that matter; she's a critically acclaimed actress and quite possibly even an Oscar contender for Best Supporting Actress (she already won Best Young Actress at the Critic's Choice Awards). Of course it's a special thing to be cast in a Coen brothers movie, but in Steinfeld's case, being cast as Mattie Ross in 'True Grit' is life changing.

It should come as no surprise that with this particularly big break will come an assortment of film offers – and rumors of offers, too. Lately, we've been hearing quite a lot about Steinfeld potentially portraying Katniss Everdeen in the film adaptation of Suzanne Collins' wildly popular book, 'The Hunger Games.' From the start, I've championed Chloe Moretz for the part not only because she's a spectacular actress, but also because there was really nobody else who could handle the part. Well, after catching 'True Grit,' my ideal casting for the lead role in this potential blockbuster franchise changed and Ms. Moretz has slipped to option #2.

Not only does Steinfeld prove she can carry a film, but through Mattie Ross, she also proves she can handle a number of Katniss' qualities. The two are actually quite similar; they're young, but mature for their age, they've got an incredible will to survive and they're instantly likable despite some harsh personality traits. On top of that, looks wise, Steinfeld is perfect for the part with her long, dark hair, her olive skin and slender build. Plus, for all of you 'Hunger Games' aficionados out there desperate to see the casting department nail every detail, Steinfeld is also the perfect age for the part. She turns 15 at the end of the year, so by the time the film goes into production she'll be just one year younger than Katniss, if not the same age. (But of course, we hope this one begins filming sooner rather than later.)

Regardless of whether or not our 'Hunger Games' hopes should work out for Steinfield, she'll likely have a wide variety of projects to work on. However, let's not forget, she is just 14-years-old. Based on her recent television appearances it's clear she's quite poised, friendly and smart for her age, but she's still just a teenager. According to her IMDb page, she first appeared in a TV show back in 2007, and, since then, has been in four short films, made another TV appearance and was in the TV movie 'Summer Camp.' With just one feature film to her name, there is a good chance she might not jump into the industry feet first and would rather take things slow, which might be the better option.

First off, she's just a kid and should be able to enjoy this part of her life. Secondly, how many child actors have survived a whirlwind of opportunities leading to a state of superstardom? Not many. Well, not many who haven't emerged without some sort of issue whether it be a drug addiction or tabloid disaster. Then there are the sudden Oscar winners who get Hollywood fever. Look at what Christoph Waltz is doing; he snags just about every supporting actor award out there and then proceeds to join as many big-budget productions as possible. He's got 'The Green Hornet,' 'Water for Elephants' and 'Three Musketeers.' So far he's 0/1, so hopes are low that he'll deliver a performance anywhere near the caliber of Hans Landa in 'Inglourious Basterds.' And that's not to say that Steinfeld shouldn't do a Hollywood film, she just shouldn't overload her schedule with them.

So what should she do? Well, it's hard to say specifically unless we're going for some rumored sequel, comic book adaptation or some supposed passion project that might never get a green light. However, generally, Steinfeld should just keep an eye on her collaborators. There's nothing wrong with doing a studio film as long as the folks who are part of it aren't the usual suspects who enjoy exploiting gigantic budgets by funneling the majority of their funds into extravagant and meaningless effects with no regards for the story.

Steinfeld is talented, but what brought that talent out in 'True Grit' is the depth of the character and the story. Coming full circle and returning to 'The Hunger Games,' that's a project that could really offer Steinfeld the best of both worlds. A massive production with a significant amount of exposure, but also one that involves an incredible story and one of the most powerful female characters out there. I'm certainly keeping my fingers crossed for Steinfeld leading 'The Hunger Games,' but it is nice to know that whether or not she gets the gig, she certainly has the potential to do great things in other projects, as long as she picks the right ones.

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