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‘Edge of Seventeen’ Producer James L. Brooks Would Not Make Movie Without Hailee Steinfeld – The Contenders

Producer James L. Brooks sees a similarity between Kelly Fremon Craig’s upcoming teenage comedy The Edge of Seventeen and his Oscar-winning film As Good as It Gets: Without the right cast, neither film could have gone forward.

At a Contenders panel moderated by Deadline’s Pete Hammond today, Brooks spoke about landing Hailee Steinfeld for the lead role of angst-ridden teen Nadine. “We had been at the casting process for some time, and if she hadn’t walked in, we wouldn’t make the movie. It was like As Good As It Gets; there was only one person who could play that part, and that was Jack Nicholson.”

The 19-year-old Steinfeld turned Oscar voters’ heads at 14 with her nominated portrayal of Mattie Ross in the Coen brothers’ 2010 remake of True Grit.

Brooks encouraged Craig to interview teenagers before making a movie about teenage life today, a development process which made all the difference in making an authentic, R-rated movie. STX Entertainment, the pic’s studio, stood by the filmmakers’ decision to maintain that rating. While many might expect a PG or PG-13 for a teen comedy, they might forget that The Breakfast Club, one of the classic titles about high school life, was rated R.

Said Steinfeld about The Edge of Seventeen: “There was so much I could identify with in this script. I have two thoughts: This truly felt like an honest representation of what being a teenager is today, and at the same time, people have no way of defining when it takes place, because it’s timeless.”

The Edge of Seventeen opens November 18.