Alana Haim has appeared on The Tonight Show a number of times, but on Tuesday night (Dec. 14) the Haim guitarist/singer was flying solo for the first time, admitting to host Jimmy Fallon that she was super nervous to sit on the couch without her sisters and bandmates in Haim. “My heart is pounding, I have to be honest,” she said as she settled in to discuss her acclaimed acting debut in Paul Thomas Anderson’s San Fernando Valley drama Licorice Pizza.
Appearing on the show on her 30th birthday, Alana opened by admitting that she had “no idea” she could act in a major motion picture, noting, “I honestly thought I was going to get fired every day because I had no idea what I was doing.” Instead, the first-time thespian earned a Golden Globe nomination this week for her role as Alana Kane in the film.
The role was written specifically for Alana by Anderson — who has frequently collaborated with the band on their music videos — and in addition to figuring out how to act, she told Fallon she had to go to “truck school” for a scene in which she drives Bradley Cooper around in a 1970s manual transmission moving van.
“I’m a terrible driver,” she said. “And I didn’t tell anybody that I was a bad driver. And then it came the day that I had to, you know, do it, I had to drive this truck and I had Bradley Cooper… America’s sweetheart and [co-star and fellow first-time actor] Cooper Hoffman,” she added, explaining that before the shoot even began, Anderson screened the 1973 teen classic American Graffiti for her and Hoffman — honing in on the scene where the character Toad crashes his Vespa by accident — to teach them one very important lesson: no matter what happens, you never break character.
“You’ve never done this before, so never break,” she said Anderson told them. “So I take that as, like, gospel, ‘Oh, the rules of acting: number one, don’t break. Number two, I don’t know yet.'” So, Haim is in the truck with Bradley Cooper and there was a loud popping noise and the cab filled with smoke, which she figured was some kind of twisted trial by fire. “‘I’m not breaking, this is a test,'” she told herself. So she kept driving as the smoke continued to billow and Bradley asked her “is that normal?”
“And in my mind, I go, ‘Acting!'” she thought. “And I go, ‘this is what they like to call improv.'” And, as everyone knows, the first rule of improv is to “yes… and” whatever your scene partner does. So, when Cooper asked if it was normal, she said “‘yes’… and in my mind I go, ‘nailed it!'” Proud of herself for doing her first real bit of acting, Haim said she turned to her fellow thespians for some affirmation and they had all split.
“Baby” Haim also joined her sisters Este and Danielle to sing Darlene Love’s iconic yuletide song “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” along with host Fallon and fellow guest Matthew McConaughey. The trio took the stage halfway through the performance, which kicked off with Fallon and McConaughey debuting a new holiday classic, “This Christmas Will Be Different.”
The bit opened with the men describing how this Christmas will be unlike last year’s total lockdown celebration. “We’re trading in the FaceTimes for some in-person cheer,” Fallon crooned. “This Christmas we’re flying back to our hometowns,” McConaughey sang as the duo slipped on their masks and prepared to go home to face a litany of Noel no-nos, including: the neighbor who goes way too hard on the lights, the aunt who tries to get you under the mistletoe and sharing your childhood race car bed with your wife.
“This Christmas will be different than Christmas from last year/ Somebody check out uncle, that’s like his seventh beer,” they sang together, with Matt, of course, finding a spot for his signature catchphrase. “Let’s not talk politics, no need to fight/ Let’s make this Christmas alright, alright, alright.” By the time the Haim trio joined the festivities, the stage filled with more than a dozen dancers and fake snow swirled around the joyous scene.
Check out “This Christmas Will Be Different/Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” and Haim’s couch chat below.