In her very first acting role, Alana Haim is attracting a lot of attention. The Hollywood Reporter called her performance in Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Licorice Pizza” “one of the most exciting screen debuts in recent memory.”
Correspondent Anthony Mason said: “You have amazing reviews.”
“Oh thank you!” Alana Haim burst out laughing. “It’s crazy. I don’t quite know how to take it.”
In Anderson’s ode to Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley, set in 1973, she plays 25-year-old Alana Kane. Cooper Hoffman (son of the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman) plays his teenage suitor:
Alana (Alana Haim): “Where are your parents?”
Gary (Cooper Hoffman): “My mom works for me.”
Alana: “Oh, of course she does!”
Gary: “Yeah, she does, at my PR company.”
Alana: “In your ‘PR company’? Because you have this?
Alana: “And you’re an actor?”
Alana: “Are you also a secret agent?”
The director wrote the role for Haim, 30. But it wasn’t their first collaboration: “I’m lucky to have done so many music videos with Paul that we had incredible confidence,” she said.
Along with her older sisters, Danielle and Este, Alana is part of the Grammy nominated group, HAIM. Anderson directed eight of their videos, including this one, for their song “Summer Girl”:
Anderson also cast Alana’s sisters and their parents as her family in the film. One scene, when Alana brings her atheist boyfriend to Shabbat dinner, came from real life. Alana said: “I remember telling this story to Paul. And then, it was in the script!
“You knew how to play that scene,” Mason said.
“Oh yeah, I knew how to play that scene. And my father knew how to play this scene, especially!
Alana: “Why would you do that! Why would you do that! I feel like he might be my boyfriend.
Father: “Listen, young lady, you’re not bringing that idiot to Shabbat dinner here.”
Alana: “Listen, Dad, he’s an atheist and an actor. And he’s famous.
Father: “But he’s Jewish.”
Alana: “He was going to get me out of here. Este, don’t even look at me. Don’t even look at me. You’re still looking at me!”
Mason asked the Haim sisters, “Did you enjoy making a movie?”
“Love!” said Este. “Loved, disliked. Loved. It was so much fun.”
The shoot reunited the usually inseparable sisters who had been separated by COVID. “You’re not all used to not seeing each other,” Mason said.
“No!” they answered in unison.
For years, Canter’s Deli in Los Angeles has been the family meeting place. “I don’t remember when we does not have come here,” Este said.
They’re behind the counter at Canter’s on the cover of their latest album, “Women in Music, Pt. III,” which was nominated for a Grammy for album of the year.
And together with their parents, they made their musical debut here as children in the family band Rockinhaim.
Mason asked, “Who was in the crowd here?”
“Anybody!” they laugh.
Alana said: “We were so nervous, even though there was no one here.”
They were paid in matzoh dumpling soup, which is always a favorite. And as they each played with other bands for a while, they soon saw, as Alana said, “Nothing was as good as playing with our family.”
Este said, “I had just graduated from college, Alana had just graduated from high school, Danielle wasn’t touring anymore and I think collectively we were, like, it’s now or never.”
“We have to do this,” Alana said.
In 2012, HAIM released their first EP, “Forever”.
Alana said: “Our first show right after we signed, I walked out and there was a line of people, and I asked in first person, ‘What’s this line for?’ And they’re, like, ‘To see you?’ “
Their debut album, “Days Are Gone,” went to No. 1 in the UK and No. 6 in the US, and caught the ear of “Boogie Nights” producer Anderson, “Magnolia and “Punch Drunk Love,” which unknowingly already had a connection to the Haim sisters, through their mother:
“She was an art teacher,” Danielle said.
“And he was actually his student?” Mason asked.
“Yeah, when he was about eight,” Danielle said. “But every time one of his movies appeared on TV when we were growing up, my mom would say, ‘You know, I taught the director of that movie. And we’re, like, ‘Really?’ “Yeah, I taught him when he was eight. I did finger painting with him. We’re, like, ‘Okay, mom.’ “
Then, through a mutual friend, they finally met: “And he was, like, ‘You’re Miss Rose’s kids?'” Alana laughed. “And we were, like, ‘Oh my God!’ He pulled out a painting. And he said, ‘I painted this with your mother, and I kept it all these years.’
“And then we, like, Facetimed mom,” Este said. “It was like a reunion. It was really family.
Alana said, “This amazing friendship just started, and now we refuse to let it go!”
While the sisters were making their second album, Anderson made a short film at Valentine Recording Studios…when Mason met the Haim sisters.
Alana said: “Even being in this space brings back so many memories. And it was really the first time we saw something where he felt, looked and sounded like us.
“Valentine” by HAIM, directed by Paul Thomas Anderson:
Mason asked, “How would you portray this relationship artistically?”
“A lot of confidence,” Este replied. “We trust him implicitly.”
It all led to Haim’s big moment in “Licorice Pizza” and the lead role of Alana.
Mason asked, “Last thing: what do you think happened to him?”
“Oh my God…” Alana said.
“How do we feel about what happened to him? Este said. “Like, the fact that, like, our littlest sister is, like, that on-screen gem, like,? This star? Like, I always knew it was in you! You know, and I think you can see it in the music videos too, like, Alana was always like that, like, brilliant…”
“Unpredictable!” Alana burst out laughing.
“No, I was going to say that, like, a bright beacon. You really can’t take your eyes off Alana.
“Oh my God. Thank you. Jesus!”
“No it’s true.” said Este.
“It’s also weird getting compliments from your siblings. It’s weird,” Alana said.
“You’re welcome, Alana.”
“I appreciate, I appreciate!”
To watch a trailer for “Licorice Pizza”, click on the video player below:
You can stream the HAIM album “Women in Music Pt. III” by clicking the embed below (free Spotify signup required to listen to the tracks in full):
For more information:
Story produced by Sari Aviv. Publisher: Mike Levine.