Only a few years into her acting career, Hailee Steinfeld was offered the role of Mattie in the Cohen brothers’ acclaimed western, “True Grit.” Unlike most Cohen pictures, the film was an adaptation of a classic western by the same name, and Mattie was the kind of nuanced role that would intimidate even a veteran actor. Steinfeld proved up to the task. The movie was an enormous critical success, cementing Joel and Ethan Cohen as modern masters of the genre, thanks in no small part to the surprising passion and charisma Steinfeld demonstrated. In his review of the film, Roger Ebert said, “This is Steinfeld’s first considerable role. She nails it.”
The performance did not go unnoticed, and Steinfeld, only 13 when she was cast in the role, was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. While she didn’t take home the Oscar, she became one of the youngest nominees of all time. The nomination catapulted Steinfeld’s career, taking her from relative obscurity to a household name and cementing her position as an industry staple.