In 2011, Hawkeye star Hailee Steinfeld was in contention to play The Hunger Games’ main character, Katniss Everdeen, and she just barely lost out to one Jennifer Lawrence. A decade later, Steinfeld is about to debut on Marvel Studios’ six-episode holiday series, Hawkeye, as Kate Bishop, Clint Barton’s archer protégé. And oddly enough, the two gifted archers happen to share a moment in the show’s second episode where Bishop seemingly confuses a Katniss Everdeen cosplayer for a Hawkeye cosplayer. While Steinfeld’s fans will appreciate the connection to her early days, she believes that Bishop was feigning ignorance to make Barton feel better about being the least recognized Avenger.
Steinfeld tells The Hollywood Reporter: “[The Katniss Everdeen coincidence] was not something that was discussed, and in that moment, I think it’s safe to say that Kate knows exactly who that is. She’s just trying to put a Band-Aid over a situation.”
Renner also notes how he and Steinfeld developed a bond in the same fashion as their “problem-solving” characters.
“When there was a problem or an issue, we found solutions instead of focusing on the problem,” Renner says. “And that happened very, very early on. So it obviously continued, and it was great to have an ally to move through any obstacles because there’s going to be a ton when it comes to this kind of stuff.”
In a recent conversation with THR, Steinfeld and Renner also discuss the heroes in their own lives, the similarities between Bishop and Barton and what it’s like to have multiple shows on the air at the same time.
As a little girl, Kate Bishop’s life was forever changed when she witnessed Hawkeye being a hero. Do the two of you remember the first time you saw someone acting heroically?
Jeremy Renner: A specific action? Probably not. Represented in an everyday, slower grind, there’s nothing sexy like jumping off a building and swinging around, but my father has always been a wonderful role model to me.
Hailee Steinfeld: I would say that I’ve also had moments in seeing that with my parents. For sure.
Jeremy, Hawkeye is your sixth appearance as Clint Barton, and it’s Hailee’s first appearance of many. Did you offer her any MCU advice that you wish someone had given you back in the day?
Renner: Nothing that you couldn’t figure out pretty quickly. We’re not firing real arrows or any of that kind of stuff. (Laughs.) The archery, I trained for it and I know she trained for it as well. Ultimately, being a really good archer doesn’t make you a good superhero archer. That’s a very different sort of thing. It’s more choreography and things like that. So there’s nothing I could really tell her to give her a shortcut except to just be there for her, and give her my trust and respect, and try to move forward.
Hailee, there’s a fascinating moment where Kate doesn’t seem to recognize a Katniss Everdeen cosplayer, and longtime fans of yours will know the significance here. When you first learned about this exchange, did you inform Hawkeye‘s producers of your history with the character and how you were a finalist for the role?
Steinfeld: (Laughs.) It was not something that was discussed, and in that moment, I think it’s safe to say that Kate knows exactly who that is. She’s just trying to put a Band-Aid over a situation.
Renner & Steinfeld: (Laugh.)
Speaking of Band-Aids, I love the scene where Clint tends to Kate’s wounds and teaches her how to bandage a wound. They were bonding whether they realized it or not. So with that in mind, when did the two of you first bond as actors?
Steinfeld: Did we ever? No.
Renner & Steinfeld: (Laugh.)
Renner: From the table read…
Steinfeld: Yeah, we jumped right in. The exciting part of it all was discovering that personally as we were with our characters. It’s not like we had a whole bunch of time to sit down and get to know each other before we did this thing, but I think it worked out perfectly in that sense. We were on the run, together, as were our characters, trying to figure out a whole bunch of stuff that’s going on.
Renner: It’s problem-solving. There are a lot of examples, but it wasn’t like, “Oh my god, we’re acting together.” It doesn’t work that way. But when there was a problem or an issue, we found solutions instead of focusing on the problem. And that happened very, very early on. So it obviously continued, and it was great to have an ally to move through any obstacles because there’s going to be a ton when it comes to this kind of stuff.
The two of you have a combined total of four shows on the air right now [Hawkeye, Dickinson, Arcane, Mayor of Kingstown]. Have your lives been quite the juggling act lately?
Steinfeld: It’s been busy. We had that to bond over…
Renner & Steinfeld: (Laugh.)
Steinfeld: We both had a lot going on outside of what we were doing, as if that wasn’t already enough. So I just feel so grateful to have been working for the last year, with everything going on, and now these projects are finally coming out. The best part is when you get to relive the experience with the viewers and with fans. So I’m looking forward to that.
In the first episode, Kate and Clint attend separate events while dressed in black formalwear. At a certain point, they both get overwhelmed and have to go outside to get some air. Is this an indication that these two characters are more alike than people might think?
Renner: That’s going to be up to the audience’s perspective. I certainly think there’s a lot of congruency with them. It’s an “opposites attract” kind of idea. There’s a wonderful balance that they have where they make each other better, and I think that’s really interesting.
Hawkeye‘s first two episodes premiere Nov. 24 on Disney+. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.