Family Affair: Haim sisters explain why Licorice Pizza is the ‘craziest left turn’ they’ve taken

click to enlarge Alana Haim's sisters and parents played her onscreen family in Licorice Pizza. - MGM
Alana Haim's sisters and parents played her onscreen family in Licorice Pizza.
When multiple-Oscar-nominated filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson (There Will Be Blood) directed a few music videos for the pop rock group HAIM in 2017, band member Alana Haim secretly wished she might get invited to stand somewhere in the background of one of his next movies.

Instead, Anderson had bigger plans for Alana and cast her in the lead role of his latest film, Licorice Pizza. He also extended the invite to HAIM’s two other members, Alana’s sisters, Este and Danielle — and to their parents.

In her debut film, Alana plays Alana Kane, a 25-year-old photographer’s assistant in the San Fernando Valley, who strikes up a friendship with Gary Valentine (Cooper Hoffman), an overachieving and lovestruck teenager. Alana’s real family plays her screen family.

During a recent interview in Austin, the Haim sisters sat down with the Current to talk about what it was like making their first film, their fondness for Anderson’s work and what their own love lives looked like when they were in high school.

Licorice Pizza is currently playing at theaters.

Were there ever any discussions between you and Paul Thomas Anderson about making a movie with him while he was directing some of your music videos?

Alana and Este: No.

Danielle: Absolutely not.

Este: I think it was just a dream that he would even consider doing a music video for us. So, I think we were just stoked to be in his presence and be able to work with him. The thought of a movie was nowhere.

Alana: I think we all thought that we would be extras in a movie.

Este: Maybe you did. I didn’t even think that.

Alana: I was hoping we would get a Phantom Thread call. Like we could just be in the background — maybe in a cab or something.

Este: How much fun would that have been?

Alana: That would’ve been amazing, but that call never came.

Do you think he would ever make a musical?

Oh, a musical! I think he can do whatever he wants!

Alana: Well, he does have the best music taste of anyone I’ve ever met in my entire life.

Este: And music knowledge! It’s next level.

What attracted you to the film?

Alana: I just loved the story. I remember getting the script and loving that it was all about the Valley. We’re all Valley girls. So, reading it, I knew everything Paul was referencing. I would read a scene and be like, “Oh, yeah, I go there all the time.” Or when I read [the scene where my character] drives backwards in a U-Haul.

Este: That would totally happen in the Valley.

Alana: But what made me fall in love with it from the beginning was that it was a beautiful Valley story.

Este and Danielle, your sister characters remind me of Adam Sandler’s sisters in Punch-Drunk Love — a bit overbearing. Did PTA bring them up to you at all?

Danielle: (Laughs) Oh, my gosh. No, he didn’t but…

Este: We love that scene!

Danielle: We love all his movies.

Alana: I feel like Paul has spent so much time with us, he was just writing from experience.

Cooper Hoffman’s character in the film reminded me a lot of Jason Schwartzman’s character in Rushmore — this overachieving, overconfident teen. Would their characters be someone who you would have been interested in dating when you were in high school?

Alana: I have no clue. I just wanted anyone to like me.

Este: I wanted to have my first kiss in high school, but that didn’t end up happening until way later.

Alana: I was just dying to have a boyfriend let alone having a choice.

Alana, I really liked your character’s gait. Is that something you worked on a lot?

Alana: Alana Kane had a very specific walk, and I kind of fell into that very quickly. There was a lot of running in 1970s-period shoes. I really hope that I pulled it off.
Danielle: You did your own makeup and hair. I feel like you would get into character like that. You even bought this 1970s makeup kit.

Daniel Day-Lewis famously retired after he made Phantom Thread with PTA. Are you all hanging it up after this?

Alana: (Laughs) I mean, who knows? This is like the craziest left turn we’ve all ever taken. I don’t think we ever thought we would be in a movie … and together! This is also the first time we’ve spoken about it as sisters. I think we’ve all just had the most surreal moment of our lives.

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