NY Post — Growing up in Arizona, Haley Lu Richardson never had much interaction with Israel’s Mossad, or infamous Nazis for that matter.
Yet her new — and best — role yet is one she was born to play.
In “Operation Finale,” out Wednesday, Richardson plays Sylvia Hermann, a real life 16-year-old girl who, through her relationship with Klaus Eichmann, the son of Adolf Eichmann, helped Israeli agents capture one of the major organizers of the Holocaust, who was living comfortably in Buenos Aires in 1960.
In 1956, Hermann unknowingly befriended Eichmann’s son Klaus in Buenos Aires, where their family was hidings. With the help of her father, a blind half-Jewish German who had been imprisoned in a concentration camp, she came to realize Adolf’s true identity. Using Sylvia’s physical description of Adolf, her father sent the information to Israeli agents, leading to the war criminal’s prosecution and subsequent death by hanging.
“I was super excited to have gotten to be a part of a historically accurate, true story that was so important,” Richardson said. “Since there wasn’t so much about her, I tried to put myself in her shoes,” Richardson, 23, told The Post during a photo shoot at Essex House. “She finds out she’s in love with the son of one of the most evil people in the world who’s doing all these terrible things.”
In real life, Sylvia used her closeness to Eichmann family to help the Israelis confirm Eichmann’s identity. “She was so brave,” the actress said. And so was Richardson. At age 16, she packed her bags and moved from Phoenix to Los Angeles — by herself. “I was watching the Disney Channel, watching these kids my age, and I thought, ‘I could do that,’” Richardson said.
Despite only having community theater under her belt, her parents — her mother is a graphic designer; her father, an architect — supported their daughter as she chased her dreams. It paid off. In the film, she stars alongside Hollywood heavyweight Ben Kingsley, who plays Eichmann. “Everything was falling apart in her life and she still had the strength to do something for the greater good,” Richardson added.
Meanwhile, Richardson’s personal life is a bit more stable than the character she plays. In March, she became engaged to actor Brett Dier, who plays Michael on the TV series “Jane the Virgin.” She also came up with her own Hollywood philosophy: “When things aren’t going well, I have to remember the good things that are going well, and I have to remember I worked hard to get there.”