'Krisha's' 65-Year-Old Breakout Star Went From Retirement to "Being Hugged by Strangers"

Courtesy of Cannes
Krisha Fairchild

Krisha Fairchild worked as an assistant for Nancy Sinatra and Joel Grey before landing the lead part in last year's SXSW grand jury prize winner.

This story first appeared in the April 1 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

WHO Krisha Fairchild in Krisha (in limited release March 18)

WHERE YOU'VE SEEN HER BEFORE Nowhere. Fairchild, 65, arrived in L.A. in 1976 and took a job as assistant to Nancy Sinatra, then to Joel Grey. A few years later she left for Seattle, where she built a career doing voice work.

WHY YOU SHOULD CARE NOW Fairchild dazzled critics with her lead performance as an alcoholic visiting her estranged Texas family in the 2015 SXSW winner, directed by her nephew Trey Shults. "[Fairchild] starts off riveting and grows ever more compelling," wrote THR's Sheri Linden in her review. "She makes the pain behind her character's every forced smile deeply felt but also the inner strength that she can access only intermittently."

HOW HER LIFE HAS CHANGED "I was retired and living in Mexico one day, and the next I was traveling the world to film festivals and being hugged by strangers," Fairchild tells THR. "It's been phenomenal."

WHAT SHE THINKS OF HOLLYWOOD "The indie movement has brought more truth to the work. More issues are being addressed," she says. "But the cult-of-celebrity part is crazyville, and the shallowness still stuns me."

WHAT SHE'LL DO NEXT Fairchild is looking for an agent. Among actors she'd love to work with is Jennifer Lawrence ("She's completely real in front of the camera," says Fairchild), and her "dream" directors are the Coen brothers.