HARLEY QUINN SMITH [ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD]

At 20 years young, actress and musician Harley Quinn Smith have a lot going on right now. She acts, she makes music and she is also an animal rights activist. She is currently in a band called The Tenth, she will appear in the upcoming Tarantino film ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD, she will be filming a horror movie soon, and she will be in the Jay and Silent Bob Reboot.

In this exclusive interview, read through and discover how the young artist manages her busy schedule, how she lives the life having named after an iconic DC badass, how her acting and music career evolved, her admiration for Courtney Love and what book she would be if she were one.

Photographed by  STORM SANTOS

Photographed by STORM SANTOS

Hi Harley, what’s your story? Who is Harley Quinn Smith?

Hi! Oh my what a question. My name is Harley Quinn Smith, I’m an actor, a musician and an animal rights activist. My rabbit is my best friend. Disneyland is my favorite place in the world. Courtney Love is my muse. I have freckles in the shape of a seven on my left arm so it’s my lucky number. Does that answer the question?

How cool is it to be named after the DC badass Harley Quinn?

It’s really cool sometimes because I think that Harley Quinn is really one of the most interesting and complicated characters that has come out of DC and I love her to death (I have a shrine to her in my room basically), but it’s been unfortunate lately because everyone thinks I’m lying about my name. Before Suicide Squad came out, every single time I introduced myself to someone, they would always ask if I was named after Harley Davidson. Nobody knew who Harley Quinn was because it was something that was reserved for nerd culture, but now that nerd culture has kind of become a mainstream thing, everyone knows who Harley Quinn is.

People literally think that I legally changed my name to Harley Quinn after Suicide Squad came out or that I just call myself Harley Quinn for kicks. Also, now basically every time I have to show someone my ID, they look at my name, look at me, look back to my name and say something along the lines of “Are you serious?” It makes me laugh every time.

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When did acting start for you?

 I had no interest in acting until I was a bit older. I was always interested in the arts, but it was always writing or music for me. My dad has put me in his movies throughout my entire life, but it was just a fun family thing; more of a photo album that we could look back on more than anything. I had been doing that since before I could speak. Then, I got older and my dad started giving me lines, but I still didn’t really make anything of it other than a family thing. That was until I filmed a scene for my dad’s movie Tusk. I had a much larger part than I had ever had where I got to deliver multiple lines of dialogue and it truly turned my world upside down. It kind of infected me in a way and it was all I could think about doing. The next few years after that I started coaching with my acting mentors Deb Aquila and Donna Morong and then once I finally graduated high school, I was able to really start my career.

Tell us about your most memorable audition experience.

 Auditioning is truly the weirdest part about being an actor. It’s so strange for so many different reasons but I have done things in auditions that I think back and I’m like wow that was brave. The audition that changed my life forever was Carrie Brownstein’s pilot called Search and Destroy. That audition was the reason I started my band and has truly affected me in so many ways, but I did something in that audition of which is very out of character for me- I danced.

There was this part where the character that I was going out for was doing somewhat of like a seductive, but incredibly awkward dance and it took every inch of courage for me to do it but I did it. I’ve humped the air in auditions, I’ve sung, I’ve mimicked sucking a dick, I’ve said some pretty egregious things, I’ve even written my own monologue, but dancing is by far the scariest thing to me.

Where do you get your inspirations from? 

My greatest inspiration is Courtney Love. She is my everything! I think she is truly the most interesting person to walk this earth. She moved mountains to make her career happen and then she proceeded to change the course of grunge forever. Her style is iconic, her voice rips right through your ears without any warning, her lyrics are insanely visual and heartbreaking and her attitude, best of all, is just as badass as it gets. I’ve heard so many stories about her and I’ve had people tell me that she’s a terrible role model to choose, but my admiration runs so deep for her. I don’t care how crazy she may or may not be, she is my muse. It’s my biggest dream in this life to write and direct a biopic of her, and to preferably play her as well.

 

You will appear in the upcoming Tarantino film Once Upon A Time in Hollywood. Can you tell us a bit about your character and how is it to work alongside the cast?

I play a hippie named Froggie. It was the most incredible experience I’ve ever had. I made friends on that film that I’ll cherish for the rest of my life. It was truly a magical group of people. I met Mikey Madison on the film who is now one of my best friends in the world. She and I are like soul mates and it’s so crazy to think that we only met each other less than a year ago, but that’s why this film means so much to me. Obviously for a variety of reasons, but most of all, I met some of my best friends.

 

What’s the best part about playing Millie in Jay and Silent Bob Reboot?

 Oh man, there are so many things I loved about playing Millie. She is a BADASS. I think that all the character’s I’ve played are very strong, but Millie might be the toughest. She’s been through a lot, but uses her past as fuel to get shit done. She’s funny, but there’s also so much emotion behind her. That was probably my favorite part, figuring out how to marry the humor with the emotion and trauma that comes from her past. That’s always a challenge to find a balance between different tones, but challenges are the best part of acting in my opinion.

Tell us a little bit about your Bubblegum Punk band The Tenth. What sets the band apart from other bands out there?

The Tenth is my baby and my life line honestly. I really don’t know how I functioned without it before. The band started with Taylor Blackwell and I. We went to a show downtown at this place called The Smell and that night we decided to start the band. It was probably like the second or third time we had ever hung out, but we kind of knew it had to happen. It was the same time I was going out for Carrie Brownstein’s project, so I was in a huge Sleater Kinney phase (of which I still am and will forever be in) and music was constantly on my mind. We started the band on February 10th, 2018 and a year later on February 10th 2019, we released our first full length album Dunes. Now the band has grown in size with Kelly Cruz on drums and Eden Hain on guitar. I think what sets us apart is the fact that we’re all inspired by different genres and different artists, but we’re able to marry our tones to make what we call bubblegum punk.

Taylor is really inspired by folk music and so in the past she’s written more folk-infused lyrics, which she then gives to me and is like okay now make this punk. We have a song about Stephen Hawking, which at first glance, isn’t super punk, but we’ve kind of made our own thing which doesn’t really fit into one box. Now that the band has grown in size, we have even more inspirations and sounds coming out that we’re marrying together so it’s all quite different than what I feel like is currently out there. I think that there were a lot of these sounds in the 90’s, but they sadly don’t really exist too much anymore so we’re here to represent.

 

How do you keep up with our busy schedule?

I have no idea. I have a planner that I write everything in because if I didn’t I would probably be a mess. I try to take care of myself no matter what I’m doing or working on. I’m a cancer, and one of our defining qualities, which I have really settled into, is being a homebody who needs a lot of sleep. So basically I sleep whenever I can haha.

What else do you do if you’re not acting or making music?

 I spend a lot of time with my rabbit. I love her more than anything in the world. We cuddle a lot. I give her way too many treats. She makes me laugh so much. So a lot of the time it’s her and I against the world. I try to write as much as I can, I have a few scripts I’m working on at the moment. I do a lot of animal rights work. One of my favorite things to do is to go to the Farm Sanctuary and visit with the animals. There’s a baby cow there right now, so it’s especially a great time. I go to Disney probably too often, but hey life’s short. I love going to see movies at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, especially horror movies. I adore vintage shopping more than I can say. Finding old pieces that just happen to be your size and style is one of the most exciting things to me, it’s like a game.

What are you looking forward to the most this year?

I can’t wait to see what achievements the animal rights community can make together. Last year the California Cruelty Free Cosmetics Act was passed and that was insanely exciting. So I’m thrilled to see what else we can make happen this year. I’m about to leave to go film a horror movie, so that’s going to be really fun. And I can’t wait for Once Upon A Time in Hollywood and for Jay and Silent Bob Reboot to come out as well! A lot of exciting things.

 

If you were a book, what kind of book would you be and why?

Wow good question. At this stage in my life, maybe a YA novel? I mean I am a young adult so that seems fitting? Or maybe a Nancy Drew type mystery cause there are surprises like every single day and life is very unpredictable? Or a picture book for children, but my life is told with illustrated bunnies.