Alana Haim and her film debut in Licorice Pizza: “I would do it again a million times”


In this interview with Alana Haim, the actress from Licorice Pizza talk about your experience working with Paul Thomas Anderson and his anecdotes in his first job as an interpreter for a film. In his new project, the person in charge of intoxicated with love (2002) presents us with the story of the friendship that forms between Alana Kane (Haim) and Gary Valentine (Cooper Hoffmann), while both living in the San Fernando Valley, California, in the 1970s.

Haim recounts how she received the script for the film, which was written specifically for her. She also talks about memories of him as a Valley resident, the day she cared for Cooper when he was still a child, and the challenge of learning to drive a truck for one sequence.

You might also be interested in: Licorice Pizza – Film Review

Haim had previously worked with Anderson when the director directed several music videos for the pop-rock band she leads with her sisters. However, when the opportunity arose for the two to collaborate again, neither hesitated. This decision paid off, because, with her acting debut, the guitarist and vocalist has also received excellent reviews.

alana haim interview
In an interview, Alana Haim spoke about her work at Licorice Pizza.

Did your experience working with Paul on Haim’s music videos make it easier to say yes when he approached you about the film?

Automatically I always say: “Yes!” when it comes to working with Paul. I never thought it would be for a movie. We’ve worked with him on amazing music videos so many times that I thought this was going to be our working relationship. When this opportunity arose, I jumped at it because who wouldn’t? One of the most amazing directors in the world wants me to act in a movie, so I said yes immediately, but then I got nervous and said, “What did I get myself into?” I have always trusted Paul and he has always been great to me and my sisters. The process of working with him was super easy, not only in the videos, but also in the film.

What was your reaction when you read the script?

I fell in love with the script immediately. I loved that it was a love letter to the Valley, which is where I grew up. I was in London when the script came to me. My sisters and I were there to show the record company the video for “summer-girl”, which was hilarious, because we did that one with Paul. I got an email at 2 or 3 in the morning and I had jet lagSo I read it. Whenever I get an email from Paul I get excited, because it might be something he wants me to hear or read.

He always sends amazing things to my sisters and me. I received a document without a title, and I did not know what it was. When I opened it and saw the name “Alana” and then “Gary”, I went into shock. First because Paul was using my name for the movie and I thought that was cute. And then when I started reading it, I saw that there were a lot of stories of my own that I had told Paul over the years. I thought, “What is going on here?” Finally, he asked me if he wanted to play Alana. Of course I didn’t let the opportunity pass. I read the script many times and called Paul to talk nonstop about it.

You might also be interested in: What does Licorice Pizza mean, the title of Paul Thomas Anderson’s film?

You grew up in the Valley. Did you discuss with Paul how the Valley has changed and the vibe he wanted to create?

Fortunately, the Valley hasn’t changed that much until recently. There are things that break my heart, like the fact that my favorite coffee shop, called Du-par’s, is now a Sephora. It’s kind of like you can see the essence of the building and what it looked like before, but now it has a completely different brand. We had the same landmarks like Henry’s Tacos, Casa Vega, Art’s Deli, and restaurants we went to like the Sportsman’s Lodge.

It’s funny to hear that now people want to visit the Valley after seeing the movie, because when I grew up everyone hated it. I hope you won’t be disappointed when you come! It’s just a suburb, but Paul and I love it because when we grew up everyone made fun of us living in the Valley. [Decían cosas como] “Ah, you’re a girl from the Valley.” If you are from the Valley and you meet other people who went through the same experience, you form an unbreakable bond that you are proud of, because all the other people hate it. This is how the relationship between Paul, my sisters and me was strengthened.

What was it like working with Cooper?

Like me, he had never acted in a movie before. There are many funny home videos with him and Paul’s children. I met Cooper when he was 13 or 14 years old. I met him two other times before filming the movie. But the first time I met him… He hates me saying this, because I make it sound like he needed a babysitter, but I took care of him! He was at the editing house while Paul edited the ghost thread. We had gone to see Paul because we really needed to shoot a music video for a song called “Little Of Your Love”. And Paul invited us to talk about it.

Paul had to go do something and Cooper was hungry so he asked me and my sisters to take him out for food. We put him in our car and took him to a restaurant. At that time we didn’t even know anything about Gary Valentine, because at the time Paul wasn’t even thinking about doing the movie. Cooper sat up and took over the place immediately. My sisters and I were in our 20s and he was 13 or 14. He wanted to order something for us and asked us questions. He really was Gary Valentine to us! we had no idea [de que la película sucedería]but he was very confident and wanted to live.

And then cut to: Paul and I trying to find a Gary to Licorice Pizza. We tested with a lot of people and read the script with a lot of different kids. I didn’t really have any connection with those who were auditioning. After all, Gary and Alana are the best of friends, they trust each other no matter what, and we couldn’t find anyone.

That made me nervous, because I knew we needed it. There is no Alana without Gary. One day Paul looked at me and said, “What about Cooper?” And I knew who he was, because of the impression he left on me when he was 13 years old. I didn’t say, “Who is Cooper?” Rather I said, “Of course! Cooper!” I read with him and even though everything was very shaky at first, because we hadn’t worked on movies before or read scripts or acted before, it worked from the beginning, it really worked.

From then on, we talked every day. We really created this unbreakable bond, because [Alana y Gary] they’re the best friends. He’s my best friend and I couldn’t have done this without him. Every night he talked about how insecure we were about everything, and he was right there with me. It was great that Paul had no doubts about us, but we were obviously insecure about our abilities. The fact that someone like Paul believed in us was like being covered in armor all the time.

alana haim interview
Alana Haim and Cooper Hoffman at Licorice Pizza.

You drive a truck in a big sequence in the movie. You had fun? Was it really you?

I think I did about 90% of all the truck driving. And here’s a fun fact about me: I’m a terrible driver! I never learned to drive with a stick shift, so I had to learn to do it for the movie. And I had to practice with that truck. At first, it was the scariest thing in the world. It wasn’t power steering, I was putting all my body strength into driving this truck and the gear was constantly sticking, I needed all my body weight to shift.

But once I got used to it, it was like, “Great, here we go!” That was important to me because it was a big challenge. Not only was I driving on my own, but I had two other people with cameras strapped to the truck. We were on very, very small roads. And I did it! It was crazy! Now that I know how to drive with a stick shift, my next project will be Fast and Furious.

In an interview, Alana Haim recounted what it was like to drive a truck for a Licorice Pizza sequence.

Continue reading: Interview with Alana Haim for Licorice Pizza

Licorice Pizza was filmed during the pandemic. Paul has talked about how security made things more enjoyable. Did you feel that?

It’s fun, but I don’t know anything else other than filming during [la era] COVID. It was great because those of us on set were a family. We all wanted to be safe, we just wanted to coexist with each other. We were a big family and we were very lucky that no one got sick. We had an amazing team that kept us safe. We were so happy to work that if someone asked us to wear 15 masks and protections, we would have gladly done so. She would do it again a million times.

Were there any challenging parts of the shoot that you were glad you got through creatively?

Not to want to talk about the truck again, but that was quite a feat! It was a very crazy learning experience and it’s funny, because the shooting lasted 65 days and I acquired a lot of knowledge during those days… I learned something every day, I absorbed everything like a sponge. One of the most incredible actresses in the movie is Harriet SansomHarriswho plays the agent on the phone when we meet.

When he got to the set, Cooper and I turned to Paul and said, “She’s an actress! She that she is a real actress ». We stumbled in the process, but she was in total control and she was amazing. I think we both learned a lot from her and she was only there for a couple of days. Being able to see her and see her process and see her prepare for the scene was amazing. In all the different takes that she did, she was constantly changing everything, giving Paul so much. It was amazing to watch, and she didn’t even want to be in the scene, she just wanted to see it. “Don’t worry about me and Cooper, let Harriet be the star.”

In an interview, Alana Haim shared what it’s like to share her vision for the San Fernando Valley with Paul Thomas Anderson.

The entry Alana Haim and her film debut in Licorice Pizza: “I would do it again a million times” was published first in Cinema PREMIERE.


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