Press Conference: Alana Haim on “Licorice Pizza”

Press Conference: Alana Haim on Licorice Pizza

Staff Writer Fabian Garcia from The Guardian’s Arts & Entertainment section partakes in a college press conference for Paul Thomas Anderson’s ninth film “Licorice Pizza.”

The UCSD Guardian recently had the opportunity to sit down with Alana Haim of the band HAIM over Zoom to discuss her acting debut in the newest Paul Thomas Anderson film, “Licorice Pizza.” Despite only appearing through a screen, Haim still radiated a natural gracious presence, as if we were in the room with her.

“I’m just so happy to be here,” Haim said.

“Licorice Pizza” follows the lives of 25-year-old Alana Kane and 15-year-old Gary Valentine as they explore the San Fernando Valley and find personal growth and passion in their pursuits to achieve something greater than themselves. Haim cites her personal experience growing up in the area as the reason for why she fell into her character, Alana Kane, so easily. However, that doesn’t mean moving from the concert stage to the silver screen wasn’t a “crazy transition” for the natural-born musician.

“When you’re playing to a crowd everything is like, very big, you have to make your motions really big…” Haim said. “For a camera … it was more, you know, subtle movements and really getting into my body.”

A glaring detail about “Licorice Pizza” is the uncanny way it seems to mirror real life. Taking place in the 1970s, real people and events that occurred during that time have severe effects on the characters and the plot. Haim is no exception sharing a nearly identical name with her character, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the two are one and the same.

“I’m not as crazy as Alana Kane,” Haim said. “But she rides for, you know, her friends and her family and she is very protective over the people that she cares about and I definitely can see myself in that.”

Music plays a very important role in the film, and Haim’s background as a musician only made this element more enjoyable.

“It’s no secret that Anderson has impeccable music taste,” Haim said, recalling the times when classic 70s tracks were played on set or when she first heard “Life on Mars” by David Bowie in the trailer for the film. “One of my favorite parts about filming the movie was when we got to the pinball palace, between takes or if we were reloading film, Paul would play music, so it actually did kinda feel like we were all at a party,” Haim said.

This story and many others inform viewers on just how entertaining the filming of “Licorice Pizza” itself was.

“For the longest time it kinda felt like this weird family vacation movie that we all kinda made, but I never really thought anyone was gonna see,” Haim said, an interesting but still a very telling way of how those who worked on the film viewed it.

The movie was very much a family affair for Haim as her real life sisters and parents appear in “Licorice Pizza” to play their film counterparts.

“I don’t know how to work with anybody else,” Haim said. She would later ironically receive a call from her father during the conference, driving this point even further. Despite this, her family was only able to be on set for a limited amount of time due to COVID-19 restrictions.

“I was alone for the first time in my life,” Haim said.

Without her family, Haim turned to Anderson for support and he certainly delivered. Her past work with Anderson on music videos was her “cheat sheet” into transitioning into acting, Haim said.

“We had already had such a great working relationship,” Haim said. His patience and encouragement are ultimately what made the filming experience better for her as a new actress.

Filming itself still remained in its natural and relaxed atmosphere. Haim remembered she had the most fun driving a U-haul backwards with Hoffman and Bradley Cooper, as well as spending time at Anderson’s reimagined version of the iconic LA restaurant Tail o’ the Cock.

“It was just as fun as it looks,” Haim said.

The 70s time period was also kept consistent during filming as phones were not kept on set.

“It was all very much like we were living in that time.”

On the topic of the many themes present in the film, Haim closed with her thoughts on what “Licorice Pizza” means to her.

“Really these two people meet and they don’t know it yet, but their lives are forever changed and they go on these crazy adventures.” Haim believes that the film parallels her personal relationship with Paul and Cooper Hoffman, and how meeting both of them has forever changed her life.

“They make my life so rich and happy and that definitely is how I feel with Gary and Alana.”

Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Starring: Alana Haim, Cooper Hoffman, Sean Penn, Tom Waits, Bradley Cooper, Benny Safdie
Release Date: November 26, 2021
Rated: R

Image courtesy of MTV.

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Fabian Garcia
Fabian Garcia, Senior Staff Writer
"logophile [ law-guh-fahyl ] noun 1 a lover of words."
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