Harley Quinn Smith
(Photo: Getty Images)
When your father is filmmaker Kevin Smith, it’s inevitable that you would grow up with an affinity for acting — the man brought us cult classics like Clerks and Jay and Silent Bob, for crying out loud! So when Harley Quinn Smith decided to hop onto the Hollywood scene, we weren’t at all surprised. Over the years, the teen has made appearances in several of her dad’s films, including Tusk, Clerks II and Jersey Girl but recently took her career to the next level when she starred, alongside real-life bestie, Lily-Rose Depp, in the horror comedy Yoga Hosers (currently streaming on FlixFling). The 17-year-old has officially caught the acting bug and tells Yahoo Style that as soon as she wraps up her senior year of high school, she plans on making showbiz a full-time priority.
To accurately portray “the Colleens,” Smith and Depp armed themselves with an arsenal of Canadian clichés, took the costume department shopping to purchase adolescent-worthy ensembles and pooled “the most annoying aspects” from people they knew into creating “the ultimate basic teens.” The role was an inspiring breakout for Smith, as she was thrilled to make her film debut as an empowered female character. “Nine times out of 10, women are portrayed negatively as a victim who needs to be saved by a man or as someone who is unable to take care of themselves,” she says. “It’s time to start depicting women as not only equals, but for the strong, independent and capable beings they are!”
We caught up with the rising teenage star to discuss how Kevin Smith the director is different from Kevin Smith the father, her obsession with wanting to portray the DC comic book version of Harley Quinn Smith, and how being in the public eye has taught her how to navigate the world of virtual bullying.
Yahoo Style: What did you love most about playing Colleen in Yoga Hosers?
Harley Quinn Smith: It’s rare that you find such empowering roles for women, and so I was stoked to be able to lead a movie alongside another extremely strong female and show the world that women are just as capable of leading a movie on their own. Also the fact that they’re teenagers having to fight in this extremely rare and peculiar circumstance kind of accentuates their power because they’re just your average 15-year-old girls, but that doesn’t mean they’re not capable of kicking some major ass.
How much fun was it to star alongside your best friend?
It was a really incredible first movie to have. It was a unique circumstance to be able to start your career with your best friend and your family and so many actors that you have looked up to for so long. It was a very special unique experience. It was so much fun hanging out with your best friend every day.
You and Lily have known each other since elementary school. Do you remember the moment you first met and realized you were destined to be BFFs?
We were in kindergarten and I’m pretty sure we became friends on the first day. It’s been a nonstop party ever since. [Lily] is just a very kind and genuine person. She is hilarious. We make each other laugh so much. We always have a great time when we are together and I know she’s always there for me and vice versa. No matter where we are in our lives or what we are doing, we are always going to be there for each other, so that’s very good to have.
Harley Quinn Smith and her best friend and co-star Lily-Rose Depp.
(Photo: Getty Images)
You girls play very exaggerated versions of Canadians in this film. Did you have fun creating the characters?
Familiarizing ourselves with the accent was super easy because there are only three words that we really used to create it, which were “aboot,” “eh” and “sorry.” Canada has always been an important part of my household because my dad has this insane fascination and absolute admiration for the country. He’s always telling me something about Canada, so I feel like my knowledge of it was already pretty on point prior to filming. We also lived in Vancouver for about three months when I was younger while my dad was shooting Catch and Release, so I would say I have a pretty solid sense of Canadian culture. To build our characters, we pulled the most annoying aspects from teenagers we knew in our own lives and mashed them together to create the ultimate basic teens. When you’re already a teenage girl, it’s sometimes difficult to differentiate yourself from the character you’re playing if she is also just a normal teenage girl, so we made sure that the Colleens were really different from the teenagers we really are. I tend to describe my Colleen as Bubbles from the Power Puff Girls, mixed with the most annoying teenager you could imagine. Underneath, I think she does have a good heart and she cares so deeply for her best friend, however, on the surface, she’s kind of lacking in the wits department and can tend to be quite aggravating.
In the film, your Colleen catches Austin Butler’s attention over Lily’s Colleen. In real life, have you two ever competed over boys?
Way way back in the younger grades, there was this boy that liked Lily that I was, like, in love with. But besides that, no. I have a pretty solid boyfriend as of three years and she has a boyfriend, too, so we’ve kind of got it figured out [laughs].
How much influence did you have over your character’s outfits?
We actually handpicked most of the outfits that we wore in the film. Before shooting, we went shopping with the costume department because who is going to know what teenagers like to wear better than teenagers? That was definitely a super fun experience, and it was also cool to be involved in that since most actors don’t usually have a say in what they get to wear onscreen. We had no say in the smocks; that was a piece my dad was very adamant about keeping, but we learned to love them in the end.
What is your style like in real life?
I go thrift shopping and vintage shopping a lot. That is where basically the majority of my wardrobe comes from. I feel like you find the best clothes there. I am usually not that dressed up. I love to wear anything that matches. I love matching shorts and shirts. I just love to match. That’s a weird personal-style thing.
What was it like having your father direct you?
It was definitely very fun to get to know my dad on an artistic level. That was a very special experience to get to bond other than just in a father-daughter way. Parents direct you in real life so it’s not too much of a drastic difference because he was already giving me direction and advice in my real life. And that’s what he does on set as well. I’d say that he definitely talks a lot less on set than he does in real life. He tends to give very long motivational speeches of some variety when I am having any life issue. But on set, it’s just like director dad mode so it’s much shorter of a motivational speech.
He seems like he’d be a really fun, goofy dad.
He is a pretty goofy person, pretty silly guy. Every time I leave the house, he tells me to bring something stabby with me in case I run into any altercations of some sort. So I have a pointy pen or he wants me to carry a pocketknife sometimes or a weapon of any sort [laughs]. He’s very protective.
Harley Quinn Smith and her dad and director Kevin Smith.
(Photo: Getty Images)
Your father has talked a lot about how he is a feminist. What has it been like growing up with a feminist father?
I would hope that anybody in my life is a feminist because a feminist is just someone who believes in equal rights for women and equality amongst genders. So if my dad wasn’t a feminist, I would be pretty damn pissed and probably not want to be around him. I think anybody should be a feminist and if they are not, I don’t really want to know them.
He recently came to your aid against a horrible Internet troll. Is it nice to have him be such a champion for you?
Yeah. I would like to think that I can definitely handle that on my own, which I am very capable of and can. It’s definitely always nice to have family and friends that support you. My dad is such a wise person and I look up to him so much. It’s very comforting to know that he will always have my back. But I definitely can handle situations on my own; I’m perfectly capable but it is nice to know that he is there for me.
How do you personally deal with Internet bullying? Are you tempted to fire back at them?
It is always tempting because when you see someone insulting you and trying to get under your skin, you always kind of have the urge to argue back and defend yourself in some way. But it’s always important to remember that fighting fire with fire will not help anyone and will not do anything for the situation. So I just try to handle it best on my own and just kind of look away from it and know that it doesn’t matter — that they don’t know anything about me because they haven’t met me in real life and they don’t know me personally. So it doesn’t matter at all what they think of me. I just have to be confident with myself and remember that I shouldn’t let anybody on the Internet alter my opinion of myself or alter my self-confidence.
Is that the same type of advice that you would give to someone else that is dealing with an online bully?
Yeah, I would definitely say that I know that it’s very hard and it’s very difficult to turn away from it. But at the end of the day, that’s the only thing that you can do. Obviously, no one wants others to use hateful words towards them, but it really doesn’t matter and it’s really nothing personal because, again, they don’t know you. You just have to be confident with yourself and know that if you have full confidence in yourself, then you shouldn’t let anybody else try to alter your opinion of yourself. You should just continue doing what you do and take their negativity as motivation to contribute more positivity into the world and use it as your fuel to go put more positive in the world than there is negative. And go create more instead of destroy, which they are trying to.
You’ve made several appearances in your dad’s films in the past, but this was your first big project. Is acting your main priority now?
Yes! Acting is definitely my priority and it’s definitely what I would love to do for the rest of my life. But I’m in my senior year of high school so I’m just trying to finish that out so I can get that out of the way and done with. And then I would love to go to work and never look back. I go to auditions all the time. It’s very important to me that I work outside of my family dynamic. I love working with my dad so much and it’s a very special part of all of our lives. But it’s very important to me that I create a career outside of that as well. I love acting and it means the world to me and I just want to prove that although I got here because of my dad and because of nepotism basically — and it was a very easy transition into the world of entertainment — I would just like to work twice as hard as every other actor just to prove that I do deserve to be here and not just because of my dad but because I am good at what I do and I am a hard worker. It’s very important that I prove myself to the world, and I will be, hopefully, working very soon right after I get out of school. I love playing roles that are most opposite myself so I would love to play a villain on Super Girl or The Flash or something cool like that. I would love to be on some sort of a comedy show. SNL is my favorite show in the whole world and what I basically learned everything about acting from. I would love to be on a show like that. I would truly just love to work, in general. Playing Harley Quinn is my dream role, not only because it would be really cool just being Harley Quinn as Harley Quinn but because her character development is maybe the coolest storyline of all time. Going from a psychiatrist to a psychopath would be a pretty amazing character to perform as. I would love to do that one day but that’s a stretch. So for now I just want to see what happens.
What was it like watching this film with an audience for the first time at Sundance?
Watching your movie with an audience is definitely one of the most surreal experiences an actor can have because you finally get to see your story come to life and hear everyone’s reactions. It’s the most fulfilling feeling to hear an audience laugh at your jokes because there’s always this fear that you’re not good enough or that the audience won’t understand the humor. But when they do, it’s truly amazing. Sundance was probably the best week of my life thus far. Every time I think about it, I get so nostalgic and sentimental. Even though it was less than a year ago, I just already miss it so much. Between being reunited with our Yoga Hosers family and being able to partake in something so inspirational, I was able to reach a new level of happiness that I didn’t know existed previously.
Your character is a huge yoga fan in this film. What’s your stance on yoga in real life?
Yoga may actually be my least favorite form of exercise because I don’t have the patience or the flexibility to do it. I wish I was good at it because everyone who does it has a bomb body, but it’s just unfortunately not my thing. I think I did it once and walked out on it.
What do you want people to take away from seeing Yoga Hosers?
My biggest hope for this movie is that it inspires other young girls to create stories that are led by females as well. Representation is so important, especially right now, and it’s imperative that if you don’t see yourself represented positively in movies or on TV, to go write, produce, direct, act in and/or create a story that portrays you in a strong and powerful way. Nine times out of 10, women are portrayed negatively as a victim who needs to be saved by a man or as someone who is unable to take care of themselves. It’s time to start depicting women as not only equals, but for the strong, independent and capable beings they are!