Nylon – If this was any other year, Haley Lu Richardson would be talking about her new film, HBO Max’s Unpregnant, out Friday, on the red carpet of a fancy premiere party, wearing a sparkly minidress or some other fabulous designer piece. But this is 2020, so on a Friday night, she’s chatting over Zoom, taking sips from a can of pear-flavored hard cider. And she’s dressed in a Jonas Brothers T-shirt.
“Oh no, you were able to tell that this was the Jonas Brothers,” she screams, bashfully jumping out of computer frame. But just as quickly, she’s back, with full conviction. “I went to twelve Jonas Brothers concerts when I was young, and I was very much convinced that I was going to marry Nick Jonas. Now that I look back, my personality… I feel like I should’ve been a Joe girl. But Nick is so serious and I think there was just something that little me, young me, just found so, oh my gosh… he’s so passionate about his craft. And he had the curly hair.” At this point, she’s fully committed to the nostalgia, recounting tales of a blown-up picture of her and the JoBros that still resides in her Arizona childhood bedroom. (“I have braces, I have a unibrow, and my hair is straightened to the point where it’s like pieces of straw,” she says. “I’m wearing a tie because Nick always wore ties.”) She even attempted to give Nick a tie she hand-crafted, only to be thwarted by security.
“Going to see their Happiness Begins show was like, nostalgic doesn’t even cover,” she continues, reminiscing on last year’s reunion tour, where she picked up the T-shirt she’s sporting currently. “I started getting emotional — I also probably was a little bit drunk — because I was just reflecting on those feelings that I had when I was young and how far I’ve come as a person, and how far all the things they’ve done in their lives and careers. They’re all married and having babies, I was just so proud of them and proud of myself, and it was just this full circle, emotional moment.” Only one thing hasn’t panned: she still hasn’t met Nick. “I thought that could maybe be a perk of me being an actor and everything,” she says, laughing. “Meeting them or crossing paths or being in the same party. But no, never.”
[…] In Unpregnant, Richardson — who introduces herself as just Haley, saying, “I’m very sensitive to feeling pretentious” — reunites with one of her very first collaborators, writer and director Rachel Lee Goldenberg, who directed her in the 2013 Lifetime movie Escape From Polygamy (it’s about exactly what the title indicates). She stars as Veronica, a play-by-the-rules high school senior in Missouri who finds herself unexpectedly pregnant. Knowing that having a baby is not the right decision for this chapter in her life, she decides to schedule an abortion at the closest clinic that will take her: some 14 hours away in Albuquerque. With no other options, she embarks on a road trip with former BFF Bailey, played by Barbie Ferreira.
Much will be made about calling this film an “abortion movie,” which it is not. Upon making her decision to terminate her pregnancy at the top of the film, Veronica never waivers or doubts her choice; it’s merely the catalyst (albeit one handled sensitively and with grace, thanks to Goldenberg’s directing and Richardson’s charm) to what the film is at heart: a hilarious and heartwarming buddy comedy. “It was so important that this movie isn’t about ‘Should I or shouldn’t I?’” explains Richardson. “She knows that this is not right for her. She knows what she needs to do and she needs to do it as soon as possible so that she can move on with her life… It’s so complex and there’s so much in this movie. The stuff that they go through as friends, and that kind of self discovery and balance of two people that were so connected when they were young. They go separate ways and they each individually grow within themselves. Then they come together, and they’re like a mirror, they show each other things that they’ve been missing. That’s so real.”
[…] Richardson, in general, is someone who prefers to look on the brighter side of life. Even her virtual life is sunny: Her “Animal Crossing” island, on which she estimates she’s spent 480 hours playing since quarantine began, is named Smiley Town. “Honestly, my best friends and then Brett, even my parents — even though they’re in Arizona — literally have all separately had serious interventions with me saying that they think I have an actual problem, or saying that they feel neglected, genuinely,” she admits. “The one thing I will have a huge ego about is my ‘Animal Crossing’ island. I’m not afraid to just brag for hours. I’m going to do an island tour soon because it’s a disservice to the world that they don’t see my island, and I feel like I’m keeping my biggest accomplishment and potential hidden from the public. Honestly it’s the proudest thing in my life, on par with this movie, and I am proud of this movie. I’m very, very proud of Smiley Town.”