Belfast Telegraph

Hailee Steinfeld on importance of same-sex relationship in Apple show Dickinson

The Hollywood star plays the poet Emily Dickinson.

Hailee Steinfeld (Apple)
Hailee Steinfeld (Apple)

By Laura Harding, PA Senior Entertainment Correspondent

Hailee Steinfeld has discussed the importance of portraying a same-sex relationship in her new Apple TV+ show Dickinson.

The Pitch Perfect star, who was just 14 when she was nominated for an Oscar for her role in True Grit, appears as the poet Emily Dickinson in the show, which depicts her romance with her childhood friend Sue.

She told the PA news agency: “I think it’s incredibly important and I also think that is another reason why Emily Dickinson is such an interesting human.

“That relationship in our show that we play upon was real, to our knowledge she was in love with her best friend and I think it’s one of the most beautiful relationships I’ve ever read, and played for that matter.

“This whole show is about not putting people in a box and it just so happened that the one person Emily felt saw her and understood her and loved her for everything that she was was a woman.

“So they didn’t have the terminology that we have now but overall this is about just that, accepting that.”

The show blends period detail with modern dialogue and music from contemporary singers such as Billie Eilish.

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The show features music from Billie Eilish (Aaron Chown/PA)

Steinfeld added: “I loved the idea that it was so different and it was a period piece that is fun and wild and shocking at times and heartbreaking at others but overall just this fearless piece of work that moves and is moving about this incredible being, whose work we luckily and thankfully have today.”

She continued: “I am such a huge believer in everything happens for a reason and as much as I would have loved this project in my life as an audience member a couple of years ago, I am so thankful that it’s now and I feel so lucky to have been trusted to be a part of this type of project.

“I do think Emily was so misunderstood in her time and I think our show asks the question can we understand her better in ours and I think and hope people will agree that the answer is yes.”

Showrunner Alena Smith said they considered the relationship between Emily and Sue, who went on to become the poet’s sister-in-law, to be a key part of the series.

She said: “In recent years, Dickinson scholarship has pointed more and more to the idea that this central relationship of her life was her relationship with Sue and that was her childhood friend who married her brother, became her sister-in-law and moved in to the house next door.

“I guess I don’t really know that we can put Emily’s sexuality in a box but maybe that is another resonance with millennials of today, who also don’t want their sexuality put in boxes, so it’s one of the things that is modern about her.”

All episodes of Dickinson will premiere on November 1 on Apple TV+.

PA

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