‘Dickinson’s Hailee Steinfeld on an EmiSue ‘Rough Patch’ & Fame Anxiety in Season 2
Apple TV+ heads back to Amherst as Season 2 of Dickinson arrives January 8 with three all-new episodes. Get ready, #Dickinsquad.
When thing starts back up, viewers will find Emily Dickinson (Hailee Steinfeld) as troubled as ever as she attempts to determine whether fame is what she wants. Adding to the drama is some tension between her and best friend/love Sue (Ella Hunt), or fans call them, EmiSue. The introduction of Finn Jones’ editor, Sam Bowles, also shakes up Emily’s world.
Below, Steinfeld opens up about her character’s challenges, the Dickinson family dynamic, even her upcoming role as Kate Bishop in Disney+’s Marvel series Hawkeye.
Hailee Steinfeld: I think she’s somewhere in between. She is one to definitely keep up, but I think she’s falling behind in the sense that she’s losing part of herself. One thing that I was really looking forward to digging into in Season 2 was that idea of the changing pace of technology and celebrity culture, which we’re still experiencing for ourselves to this day. So I was excited to see how we were going to interpret this 18th-century style.
Fans are extremely invested in Emily and Sue’s relationship. Where do things stand?
Sue is in a very different place, so I’ll start there. Somehow she’s found herself in this world of parties and dresses and all of these materialistic things that are just packing down what she’s really feeling on the inside.
In addition to that, she’s pushing Emily away and, from Emily’s perspective, it’s unclear whether Sue is doing that with a pure intention of her wanting to go off into the world and publish her poems, or if she’s just trying to get rid of her. So they’re going through a bit of a rough patch if you will, but ultimately always come back to each other and the understanding that they have for each other.
And Sam Bowles, who is introduced to Emily by Sue, shakes things up in Emily’s life as well.
Ooh, in more ways than one. Emily is very intrigued by this mysterious man; he comes to town and he is this representation of fame. He’s Emily’s ticket, and he’s introduced as the man who could put you in the spotlight. So she’s instantly intrigued, but fearful and also unaware if this person’s intentions are purely professional or not. She likes the idea of him and the idea of what he has to offer, but he definitely sends her into what ends up being a full season of anxiety and confusion and self-doubt.
So how does Emily cope?
Well, a seance is involved. She’s trying to figure out how and who she can connect with to find answers. The main question is, “Should I seek fame?” And she’s asking the spirits above, the spirits within, she is going to people in her past and the people around her; she really is searching for the answer and she’s haunted by it.
Emily’s family stood as an obstacle when it came to publishing her poems in Season 1. How has the family dynamic changed in Season 2?
It’s definitely different, thank god. Emily has now won the right to become a writer and can call herself a poet in front of her family. And her father is more approving this time around. The only thing really holding her back at this point is this idea of fame. Luckily the family dynamic has shifted, and one thing I love and we know to be true is that Lavinia [Anna Baryshnikov] was really always Emily’s biggest fan. She is responsible ultimately for the world ever having had the access to her poems.
That’s another relationship I love playing out on screen with Ana. It’s really sweet. And Austin played by Adrian [Enscoe] is also supportive and loving towards Emily. The two of them only want what’s best for each other. The sibling dynamics play out a lot more in Season 2, which I’m very excited about.
Dickinson holds up a mirror to our own world. Can you talk about how influencer behavior and other aspects of pop culture will manifest themselves in Season 2?
There’s a bit of humor where we see Lavinia calling out Sue for becoming an influencer, and it’s the coolest thing to her. But I think this season really touches on what fame means. I know I personally have realized and learned to appreciate what really matters in my life. I think it’s very easy for people, myself included, to get caught up in this world of social media we turn to for validation, attention, love, and support when we really should be turning to ourselves and the people that matter to us.
But I will say that I do think these social media platforms are also amazing and there are so many wonderful people who create beautiful, artistic, and creative content that I love. It’s a great tool that I’ve been able to use to connect with people. So I think that if people can remain positive, friendly, and kind in those spaces, it’s a good place for everybody to be.
Switching gears, it was recently announced you’ll play Kate Bishop in Disney+ and Marvel’s Hawkeye. Can you tell us if any part of Emily will be brought to the role?
Ohh, well much like with Emily Dickinson, I have access to so much in the world of Kate Bishop that I am so grateful for. It’s always so fun when you have that, and in this case, it’s the comics. There are so many people that love her so much, and I’m very excited that I have been given the opportunity to be the one to bring her to life. I’m looking forward to what we create with her; I’m honored to be playing her.
Dickinson, Season 2, Premieres Friday, January 8, Apple TV+