Hailee Steinfeld burst onto the scene over ten years ago in Joel and Ethan Coen’s brilliant update on the classic Western True Grit. Her steely confidence, “wise beyond her years” demeanor, and personal true grit floored audiences. Winning the role from a pool of over 15,000 applicants, Steinfeld received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress on top of over a dozen additional critics and industry awards.
But after that meteoric rise, Hollywood struggled to find a suitable follow-up role for the young actress. Turns in the Pitch Perfect series, an update on Romeo & Juliet, and on AppleTV+’s Dickinson were well received, but none of those roles exercised Steinfeld’s early promise.
That is until Kate Bishop — a young woman with a certain steely confidence, “wise beyond her years” demeanor, and true grit — entered the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Disney+’s Hawkeye.
“I really do feel that playing this character forced me to find a confidence and a determination and discipline that-that’s always been inside of me,” Steinfeld explained, “but I really had to bring it out of myself to do this character justice.”
Steinfeld’s Bishop shares an early obsession with Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye. As revealed early in the series, Bishop’s New York apartment nearly became ground zero during the legendary Battle of New York, an event caused significant family trauma. A brief glimpse of Avenger Hawkeye adeptly battling Chitauri warriors inspired her to undertake extensive training in self-defense, hand-to-hand combat, and yes, archery. Bishop’s determination to avoid further family tragedy serves as a massive inspiration to audiences everywhere, particularly young women.
But Steinfeld makes the character uniquely her own so expertly that she’s finally rivaled her award-winning work in True Grit.
The best Marvel projects often blend ample doses of humor with the extravagant world building and elaborate action sequences. While the series explores many darker human emotions, Hawkeye takes ample advantage of the extraordinary chemistry and witty banter between Steinfeld and co-star Renner. They help ground the series in a more realistic emotional environment. Plus, they’re very, very funny. As a result, audiences connect with Kate Bishop and Hawkeye in ways that not all Marvel characters offer.
Credit that to the real-life friendship between the stars.
“The first thing [Renner] told me was that I was never going to shoot an actual arrow. Actually, for whatever reason, it didn’t occur to me that would actually be the case,” Steinfeld laughed. “We really jumped right into [Hawkeye], straight into the deep end together. I felt so grateful to have Jeremy’s support and his mentorship in real life as I do as Kate. We also shared a lot of laughs.”
There are early signs that Steinfeld’s hypnotic performance is already paying off.
While Kate Bishop remains a comic fan favorite, Steinfeld has breathed new life into the role. She has expanded Bishop’s appeal to countless viewers unfamiliar with her comic book roots as evidenced by the legions of Kate Bishop cosplayers.
And as Steinfeld looks forward to potentially further exploring Bishop within the MCU, she understands the role of Kate Bishop is the role of a lifetime.
“I feel like I’ve had a lot of moments, thankfully, that have prepped me for what I continue to do moving forward. I always feel like I’m referencing back to different experiences when it comes to different projects,” Steinfeld reflects. “It’s so wild. It’s on such a different level. It’s just so incredible. I was so grateful to have a real Avenger by my side to really show me the ropes because this was unlike anything I’d ever done before.”
Hawkeye streams exclusively on Disney+.