"A lot of 14-year-old girls are like 35-year-old girls, you know?" said Bridges, the son of actors Lloyd and Dorothy Bridges who got his first screen credit before he was a year old. "It's a natural thing to want to be older when you're a kid, especially these days, and she might have a little of that. … But she's got her head on straight."
Innate talent notwithstanding, Steinfeld is clearly not skipping her homework. To learn how to navigate her new Hollywood life, she went through media training twice before the cast of "True Grit" began promoting the movie. She attended the premiere of Disney's "Secretariat" to get a sense for what red carpets are like.
Already, she peppers her speech with industry slang, and refers to her agent and manager as her "team." She's keenly aware that her next roles will be critically important in shaping her career. It's rumored she's in the running for the lead role in the screen adaptation of "The Hunger Games," the bestselling series of young adult novels by Suzanne Collins, though Steinfeld said she met only once with producer Nina Jacobson months ago.
"Our biggest concern right now is, you know, finding what's next coming off of 'True Grit,'" she said earnestly. "We've gotten a number of offers, but I'm told it's nothing compared to how many I'll get when the movie comes out."
Despite her preparations, there are moments when Steinfeld's age pokes through her grown-up veneer. She often ends her sentences with an endearing, somewhat self-conscious, "So, yeah!" She admits she gets "easily starstruck," and is hoping to meet Johnny Depp and Natalie Portman soon. True to her character, though, she'll likely be seeking more than just autographs.
"I do have to say, I idolize Jodie Foster and Natalie Portman, because of the fact they've maintained such an amazing career since they were my age or even younger," she said. "And that's really my goal. So maybe they might be able to give me some advice."
Times staff writer Geoff Boucher contributed to this report.