Judging from the trailers, True Grit, the Joel and Ethan Coen take on the novel by Charles Portis, has a great many pleasures in store. The appeal of the film should be evident: the Coen Brothers working with a crack team of actors (Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin and more) is one highlight, and seeing a true Coen Bros. western as lensed by Roger Deakins is another.

And then there’s the newcomer Hailee Steinfeld, a young actress upon whom the entire story turns. She plays Mattie Ross, the girl who hires US Marshall ‘Rooster’ Cogburn (Bridges) to find her father’s killer. We know the movie is meant to hold true to the novel, in which case Mattie Ross will be a very central character. The Coen Brothers have rarely faltered in casting, so when they hired an unknown to play Mattie the only conclusion to draw is that they had found someone of real talent. Outside the trailers we’ve seen very little of this new actress,  but now a short video interview can be your introduction to her offscreen personality.

This interview (which comes via In Contention) doesn’t offer much, but it is essentially our first unvarnished conversation with Hailee Steinfeld. It was shot as part of a young actors roundtable put together by EW, which also featured Mad Men’s Kiernan Shipka, Let Me In’s Chloë Grace Moretz, Modern Family’s Rico Rodriguez and The Last Airbender’s Noah Ringer.

She comes off as smart, self-possessed and also completely fresh. Combine this personality with what we’ve seen of her work in True Grit (which has a lot of early Jodie Foster influence) and you get an idea of why she got the gig. It’s been a pleasure to watch Chloë Moretz hold her own against older actors in films like Kick-Ass and Let Me In; if she ends up having a rival in Hailee Steinfeld we, as audiences, will be better off for it.

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