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“The Watchers” is a film adaptation of the 2022 book of the same name by A.M. Shine.
Review: “The Watchers”
Published June 13, 2024

Q&A: Alana Haim on her “Licorice Pizza” acting debut

The musician and actress talks about her breakout role, the film’s iconic soundtrack, channeling the ‘70s and more.
Courtesy+of+MGM
Courtesy of MGM

Between her recent acting debut and subsequent Golden Globe nomination, Alana Haim is quickly becoming a household name in cinema.

But most fans probably know Haim from the stage, not the big screen. The 30-year-old actress and musician plays keys, guitar and sings alongside her sisters in the pop rock trio bearing their family name, HAIM. The band’s most recent album, “Women In Music Pt. III,” earned a Grammy nomination for Album of the Year in 2021.

The sisters will hit the road this year for HAIM’s North American tour, stopping in Minneapolis on June 6 for a performance at the Armory.

On top of her musical success, Haim recently added “actress” to her resume with a stellar debut performance. She stars in director Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest ‘70s coming-of-age film, “Licorice Pizza,” alongside fellow breakout actor Cooper Hoffman.

Haim chatted with college A&E writers from across the country about her performance, the film’s iconic soundtrack, channeling the ‘70s on set and more.

You and your character in the “Licorice Pizza” have the same name, but do you have anything else in common with Alana Kane?

“I think the thing that I loved about her the most, and I’m definitely the same way, was that she’s incredibly protective over the people she loves. She rides for her friends and her family, and I can definitely see myself in that aspect.”

You spend most of your career performing at music venues, so did you have to shift your mindset to adjust from performing for a crowd to a single camera?

“When you’re playing to a crowd, everything is very big. You have to make your emotions really big, you have to be screaming, singing and having huge movements. For a camera, everything’s so close up, mostly on your face. When we perform, my sister has an amazing bass face, so the cameras are usually on her face but not mine. So, it was completely different, more subtle movements and really getting into my body. It was a really crazy transition.”

Music obviously plays a big part in this film. As a musician yourself, how did you feel about the film’s use of music?

“The songs in the movie are all songs that I love so much. I had no idea what was going on music-wise, other than the first song that’s played in the movie, which is “July Tree” by Nina Simone. That was the only song that I had heard on set. But I love the soundtrack so much. One of my favorite parts about filming the movie is when we got to the Pinball Palace, Paul would play music between takes or if we were reloading film, so it actually did kind of feel like we were all at a party in this Pinball Palace. Music was constantly playing, and it kept the vibe going.”

The music plays a big role in setting the scene for the audience. As an actress, how did you place yourself in the ‘70s without the help of the soundtrack?

“I mean, we basically lived in the ‘70s all the time. We never had any sort of technology on set, like no one had phones or anything like that. It was all very much like we were living in that time. Also, I had to do my own hair and makeup for the whole movie, so I would wake up every morning at 5:00 a.m. to do it, and that really did help. It helped the look and feel of the movie, because it looked real, I wasn’t very glamorous.”

It was really exciting to see a bit of a family reunion on screen. Did those scenes with your sisters and parents feel easier or more difficult to shoot because of your relationship with them?

“It wasn’t difficult and it wasn’t easy. It was honestly just funny, because we were all kind of looking at each other and being like ‘How did we get here?’ My dad improvised all of his lines, and that’s just really who he is, he’s so funny. We could hardly even get through one take, I think Paul had to be like, ‘Okay you guys, stop laughing.’”

Did you ever expect such an overwhelmingly positive acting debut for yourself?

“Oh my god, I mean, I had zero expectations. Even when we put out albums, we just put out things that we love, and we hope other people like it but it’s really just for us. But even making the movie I was like, “I have no idea what I’m doing, but hopefully it’s good.” Everyone working on the film was so supportive of me, and it was just a crazy experience that I had. It’s an honor being in any form of a Paul Thomas Anderson movie, I never thought that would happen.”

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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