While filming True Grit, the Coen brothers’ 2010 Western, Hailee Steinfeld, who was 13 at the time, received good advice from costars Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon. “The last day of shooting was the best-slash-worst day of my life,” she recalls. “I was crying my eyes out, and Jeff and Matt said, ‘Don’t worry—this is only the beginning.’ ”
They were right: Steinfeld earned an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actress for the role. That same year, she was the face of Miu Miu. And now, at the ripe old age of 16, she is being honored with 2013’s Women in Film Max Mara Face of the Future Award, an acknowledgement of both her acting achievements and her “embodiment of style and grace.” Meanwhile, the parts keep coming. This fall, Steinfeld stars alongside Harrison Ford in the sci-fi adventure Ender’s Game; she’s the female lead in Romeo & Juliet by Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes; she plays Kevin Costner’s daughter in the thriller Three Days to Kill; she strategizes an unlikely romance between Guy Pearce and Kristen Wiig in the indie drama Hateship, Loveship; and she rock ’n’ rolls with Mark Ruffalo in Can a Song Save Your Life?
That’s a heady ride for anyone, but when everything becomes too much, Steinfeld returns to the wisdom of her True Grit mentors, Bridges and Damon. “The best thing they told me was, ‘Have fun, and never take things too seriously,’ ” she says. “Now I live by those words.”