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Interview: Blake Jenner, Haley Lu Richardson and Hayden Szeto talk The Edge of Seventeen

It was the second last day of TIFF (the morning of the closing night film of the festival, The Edge of Seventeen), and we were exhausted. Running from interview to interview for 10 days had taken its toll on our body, and lack of sleep and food made us consistently cranky. It was also grey and raining the day we were scheduled to interview the supporting cast of The Edge of Seventeen. Yet all of those circumstances instantly melted away the moment we walked into the luxurious interview suite with our fellow local journalists. Actors Blake Jenner, Haley Lu Richardson and Vancouver native Hayden Szeto were a ray of sunshine on a particularly cold day. They launched into a rousing sing-along of Cyndi Lauper’s True Colors and insisted that we join in. It was exactly what we all needed that day and a TIFF moment I’m positive that we’ll never forget.

The following is an excerpt of the roundtable interview that followed.

What did you learn from each other and about each other during the making of the film and while promoting the film?

Blake Jenner: (pointing to Hayden) He has great shoulders. He has great abs and legs. (pointing at Haley) She has great brows.

Haley Lu Richardson: (pointing at Hayden) He used to be my eyebrow.

Hayden Szeto: Because I used to be skinny. Get it?

HLR: My eyebrows used to be skinny, he used to be skinny, therefore he was my eyebrow.

BJ: You know I shared a lot of moments with Haley on set, and it was awesome being with someone who kept every second fun and fresh and warm and everyone was energetic. (Turning to Haley) You give off that gift of energy that I really appreciated.

HLR: That’s really sweet! Unfortunately I didn’t get to work with Hayden much but when I saw you in passing you were always nice. Something I learned from Hayden is that he totally brought it at the table read. I suck at table reads. I get so closed off because I don’t worry about it until I’m there doing it.

HS: You had food poisoning though!

HLR: Oh yeah! I remember that now!

HS: That’s why you suck. It’s okay.

HLR: I think that was just an excuse for sucking at the table read. But Hayden was so amazing and so funny. Then Blake, Blake and I had a lot of fun. We did a lot of scenes together and he’s not guarded or closed off, he’s a really open guy and I feel like that’s such an important thing to keep when you’re an actor because it’s so easy to get closed off and protect yourself.

BJ: Aww, thanks, man!

HLR: Oh and he does really good impressions of Ryan Reynolds and Sammy Davis Jr. (Turning to Blake) You could totally play Deadpool!

The core relationship in the film is really between Haley’s character, Krista, and Hailee Steinfeld’s Nadine. Haley, can you talk a little about that special female bond?

HLR: There are very specific bonds that you share with your close female friends that are different from male friendships. When I first read the script I thought I was more like Nadine than I was like Krista in real life with my friendships. But then I realized that with this female intimate friendship that’s like a sisterhood, you have this bond where there’s someone that’s more of the rock, but you’re always there for each other and it’s such a selfless thing. I think Krista in the beginning is such a selfless friend to Nadine when Nadine was wrapped up in all the stuff she’d gone through. Then towards the end, Nadine comes out and shows this selflessness. I think selflessness in a female friendship is what a real friendship is. When you care about someone, sometimes you have to put them before yourself.

What was it like working with director/writer Kelly Fremon Craig and veteran producer James L. Brooks?

BJ: They were great! It felt awesome on set. Having them both there, tag teaming it, was great. Kelly was the driving force, this was her script, and Jim was there supporting her all the way. Everyone felt very well taken care of with both of them there.

HLR: And it didn’t feel like we were standing there watching them learn how to do things. It didn’t feel like I was watching Kelly learn at all. She was very confident. She’s very specific, has everything worked out in her head already, is very positive and energetic, and it really felt like she knew what she was doing at all times.

BJ: And she’s so kind and warm that I always felt like I could talk to her.

HLR: She’s SO kind! She has such a smile too. Every time I saw her she was always smiling. So it didn’t feel like it was something new for her at all.

HS: And they really knew how to talk to actors and get the best out of us. There were times when I knew I was sucking, you just felt it, and they were so nice about it. They were like, “Can you just try it like this?”, and I said, “Oh you mean suck less? Got it!”. But it was the way they said it, with a smile. It made me feel very comfortable and they got the best work out of me.


The Edge of Seventeen is currently playing in theatres everywhere.

Leora Heilbronn

Leora Heilbronn is a Toronto based film aficionado who has a weakness for musicals and violent action flicks. She can often be spotted reading a wide range of literature or listening to show tunes.