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Coen Bros. On Wet Horses, Kid Stars: It's A Wild West

January 13, 2011

Hailee Steinfeld plays 14-year-old Mattie, the stubborn and determined teenager who sets out to avenge her father's death in the Coen brothers' adaptation of Charles Portis' novel True Grit.

But finding an actress to play Mattie was a challenge, Ethan Coen says. He tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross that he asked Rachel Tenner, the casting director from A Serious Man, to sift through thousands of audition tapes, passing on the promising ones to both Coen brothers.

"We saw only a tiny percentage of those auditions and submissions," says Joel Coen, whose filmography, all produced in tandem with his brother, includes Blood Simple, The Big Lebowski, O Brother Where Art Thou, Fargo, No Country for Old Men, Burn After Reading and A Simple Man.

"To a large extent, 99.99 percent of the girls who auditioned for this role just washed out at the level of the vocal qualities, and not being able to get their mouths around the language." Read More