Earlier this month, Alana Haim finally realized she was a movie star.
The musician, who stars with sisters Este and Danielle in Grammy-nominated rock band Haim, makes her acting debut in Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Licorice Pizza” (now in theaters), a comedy-drama about the move to adulthood which takes place in his hometown of Los Angeles.
“Growing up, all we wanted to do was play Whiskey – that epic place – but they would never give Haim a place to play,” she says. But recently, “I walked past and there was a giant billboard over the whiskey with my face on it. It was the first time I was like, ‘Whoa, what’s going on?’ It was that crazy, full moment of “I never got to play whiskey, but I guess I ended up outside. It’s pretty cool. “”
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“Licorice” is set in 1973 and follows a capricious 25-year-old girl named Alana Kane (Haim), who forges a flirtatious and free friendship with high school student Gary Valentine (Cooper Hoffman, 18, son of the late Philip Seymour Hoffman). It was an effortlessly captivating performance that earned Haim the Best Actress nominations for the Critics Choice and Golden Globe Awards, as well as a groundbreaking performance victory from the National Board of Review, which she shares with Hoffman.
Before Anderson emailed him the script, which he wrote with her in mind, Haim’s only “acting” experience was trying to make audiences laugh at concerts.
During the shoot, “I was preparing every day for Paul to say, ‘Sorry, but we found someone who actually played a lot more than you,'” Haim said. “But Paul saw something in me that I couldn’t see in myself. He knew from the start that I could do it, although I needed a little more conviction.”
Anderson, who returns in the Oscar race this year after “Phantom Thread” in 2017, has previously collaborated with Haim and her sisters on their music videos. He would tell her every now and then that “she could be a wonderful actress”, even though “she didn’t seem to take me too seriously”.
“Her natural abilities as an actress are surprisingly high for a newbie, let alone anyone,” Anderson said. Her charisma and intellect also shines off-camera: “Don’t be fooled by her powerful smile and sunny character – she doesn’t suffer fools and is incredibly strong. That’s what makes her special.”
Haim, 30, who is embarking on a headlining tour with his sisters next spring, tells us more about the making of “Licorice Pizza”.
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Question: You have been making music with your family for much of your life. But could you relate to your character’s feelings of pointlessness or uncertainty?
Alana Haïm: When I was 19, I was working at (thrift store) Crossroads Trading Co., going to Valley College, and had no idea what my life was going to be. There is always a moment when you think, “What am I doing? And these are the times when your life changes. You change lanes and take more risks. After that crisis Danielle finally came home (after touring with Jenny Lewis and Julian Casablancas’ bands) and that’s when we really started to take Haim seriously.
Q: When did you meet Cooper?
Haim: It was in the “Phantom Thread” editing booth. Paul introduced us because Cooper was from New York, and I and my siblings were very intimidated by him because he trusted him so much. We took him out to dinner because Paul had to go, so we kind of “kept” him for a few hours. But he would ask us questions, order for us, and I was like, “Who is this kid? I didn’t know it then, but I was having dinner with Gary Valentine. Even at 13, he embodied this character.
Q: How did you get together before or during the shoot?
Haim: We really bonded around the music. We had this shared playlist that we were constantly adding with songs from the time, but we also bonded with Destiny’s Child and Flo Rida. We were in the pandemic when we knew the movie was going to happen, so we were using FaceTime, like, “We’re stuck at home! We have to have fun! I’m going to put some music in my house and do a FaceTime a dancing parties!”
Question: Your sisters and parents also appear in the film as your character’s family. How do you feel that your father is such a thief of scenes?
Haim: I am pray that someone will want to put my dad in another movie. I don’t care about myself, I don’t care about my sisters – I need my dad to be in another movie. We were all shocked at how amazing my dad was. He’s never been in front of a camera before, and me and my siblings were crying with laughter, like, “He’s a star.” A star was born in my father – it was crazy.
Q: In the movie, Gary recruits Alana for his waterbed business. Did you take one on set?
Haim: You know, it’s shocking that I don’t have a waterbed. Cooper and I and (the actors who played) his friends all went to “waterbed school” and learned how to put together a water bed in eight minutes. There is quite an art in this. If you ever need a waterbed, we offer a full service. We will be happy to come to your home and install it.