Hailee Steinfeld is one of the most talented artists of her generation. That is not even that much of a sweeping generalization when the actress and singer is exceptionally owning the entertainment industry at every turn.
Furthermore, Steinfeld is evidently about to add the role of producer to her resume and attain true multihyphenate status with Idol, a new film that could come to fruition at Netflix. Deadline announces that Matt Reeves‘ 6th and Idaho production banner, which has an exclusive multi-year deal with the streaming service, is quickly negotiating to get the Matt King-penned music-themed film made.
Should final talks go through, Steinfeld will star in and produce the film. She will also play an integral part in putting together the movie’s soundtrack via her record deal with Republic Records, which has a production stake in Idol through their motion picture arm Federal Films. No director has been confirmed for the project at this time.
This isn’t Steinfeld’s first rodeo in the music movie subgenre. However, should you assume that she will approach Idol with the adolescent attitude she delivers in Begin Again or pure bubbly conviction she personifies in the Pitch Perfect sequels, think again.
In actuality, Idol is going to be far creepier than most of the projects Steinfeld has done so far. The film will track a girl (presumably Steinfeld) who nabs a job as the assistant to a famous pop star. However, things are bound to get dark and messy once said assistant attempts to really morph into the celebrity that she so dearly worships. Deadline notes that Idol will specifically channel a mix of The Devil Wears Prada and All About Eve in its quest towards depicting crooked stardom.
Through Steinfeld’s prior experience in musically-inclined movies alone, I personally can’t wait to see just how different Idol is going to be. Her feature film slate, which solidly began with an Academy Award-nominated role in the Coens’ True Grit, also consists of ambitious genre experiments that prove her versatility.
I’m partial to Steinfeld’s Serious Indie Actress side myself, especially adoring not only the surprising gravitas of True Grit (from a 13-year-old!) but also the concurrent wryness and desolation of her character in The Edge of Seventeen. Her petulant turn in Begin Again is believably understated and grounded amid the movie’s fluffy and surreal storyline. The brutal Civil War era period drama The Keeping Room finds Steinfeld as solemn as she’s ever been, indomitable to the elements that threaten to tear her down.
In contrast, Steinfeld’s mainstream work can be less consistent, but that’s not really her fault. No one can pretend that the Pitch Perfect sequels aren’t exceptionally flawed in terms of narrative. The experience of watching Pitch Perfect 2 was painful due to its offensive jokes and lack of charm. When the time to watch Pitch Perfect 3 arrived, the task of simply cringing through most of it was so easy that I got virtually nothing from the experience. And that’s a real shame, given the vivacious positivity that the very first film in the series inspired.
Still, some good things did come out of those movies. The Pitch Perfect sequels collectively grossed almost $500 million worldwide, and Steinfeld’s involvement in them led her to her record deal with Republic. This is entirely warranted, as well, since she actually has a lovely singing voice.
Steinfeld has since released several platinum-certified singles (one of which landed in the top 10 or 20 on various music charts worldwide). Her dance-pop tunes, mostly found in her debut EP “Haiz” and a smattering of soundtrack and feature appearances, are infectious and tend to encapsulate a glitzy, empowering portrait of youth.
That kind of genuine crossover appeal, which is broad enough to convince both mainstream and fringe audiences of her talent, is totally invaluable to a film like Idol. In one industry, Steinfeld has become a legitimate pop singer with a reputable following, playing festivals and opening arena shows for Katy Perry. She would thus bring a kind of verve and charisma common to her stage persona to this feature project.
Moreover, and perhaps even more importantly, Steinfeld’s proven abilities as an actress in her most challenging film roles allow her to resist glossy superstar expectations simultaneously. Take those comparisons to The Devil Wears Prada and All About Eve into consideration and there will definitely be a hefty amount of cynical competition for her to navigate in Idol.
Steinfeld’s onstage persona is vibrant and dazzling — a stark contrast to her best onscreen appearances, which happen to be captivating in their own ways. With Idol, she seems to have found a happy medium between her two immense talents in a single showcase.