HAIM sisters talk starring in ‘Licorice Pizza,’ working with Paul Thomas Anderson


Courtesy of MGM

Alana, Este and Danielle Haim. 

Noah Levine, Life & Arts Film Columnist

Director Paul Thomas Anderson’s newest film “Licorice Pizza” will be widely released later this month. The film follows a budding relationship between Alana Kane (Alana Haim) and Gary Valentine (Cooper Hoffman) as they come of age in the San Fernando Valley in 1973. Danielle and Este Haim play alongside Alana as her on-screen siblings. While the Haim sisters visited Austin for a special screening of the film at Alamo Drafthouse, the Texan interviewed them about working with the legendary director. 

The Daily Texan: You all play sisters in the movie just like in real life, so what was that like on set? Was there a lot of improv? 

Alana Haim: It was so fun. Basically the scene with my whole family, including my dad and mom, was pretty much improv. I think the whole time we were shooting that scene, we were all just trying not to laugh. That was the hardest thing. For all three of us, watching my dad act for the first time was the most amazing experience.

Danielle Haim: He was a natural!

DT: I know you have worked with Paul Thomas Anderson in the past so can you talk about how your collaboration led to you getting the role of Alana in “Licorice Pizza?”

AH: It all is very fuzzy. Paul has a whole other story. I have a whole story. Our stories are nothing like each other’s. Paul helped us with our Coachella set in 2018. He says he turned to me and said, “I’m going to put you in a movie one day.” I vaguely remember that, but I don’t really remember.

DH: We were coming down from playing right before Beyonce at Coachella, (thinking), “Is this the best night of my life?”

AH: Over the next couple of years, I heard stories about waterbeds, and I always wanted a waterbed. Never got one. Mom and dad never let us have waterbeds. And (I heard about) pinball machines, and Gary Getzman. One day, the script showed up in my email. It was an untitled Paul Thomas Anderson script that I thought he wanted me to read. And I opened it up and the first name on the script was Alana. … I was like, “Oh my God! Paul is using my name. That’s amazing.” Then we had a phone call about it because I read the script at 3 a.m. in London. He asked me, “Would you ever think about playing Alana?” And I immediately freaked out and said yes because of course I would. … Paul makes you feel like you can do anything. When I hung up the phone, that’s when it set in, “Oh, God. … Can I do this?” But Paul supported me through the whole thing and made me feel like I could.

Este Haim: He does make you feel like you can do anything. 

DT: With Paul there, did that enable you to easily adjust to acting on screen?

AH: It was fully like diving into the deep end with my eyes open, trying to stumble through the first couple of weeks. I had never acted before. We had never acted before. I mean, we had done school plays, definitely no movie acting… Having someone like Paul that’s your cheerleader — he’s been our cheerleader since we met him — having him throughout this process was super important. I stumbled through it, got my sea legs and did my best. That’s all I could do.

DT: What was it like balancing your successful music careers with the production of a feature film? 

AH: We really didn’t expect this to happen — to be in a movie. It’s really great because now we are doing this movie, we get to promote it and we get to talk about it. It has been this kind of family movie for a very long time (between) our family, Paul’s family and Cooper’s family. It has been our little secret. Now, we finally get to talk about it which is insane and amazing. Then, after this is over, we go right back on tour.

EH: We’ve been missing tour basically since the pandemic started. To be able to do shows again is really exciting.