The Hollywood Portfolio Film

George Clooney-Directed Actor Hadley Robinson Owes Her Career to Family Viewings of 'Roman Holiday'

All clothing and accessories by Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello.

Whenever Hadley Robinson films a scene, she hears music. “I have synesthesia, so colors, shapes, sound—there’s a lot of overlap,” the actor explains. While filming last year’s George Clooney–directed underdog drama The Boys in the Boat, she conjured up her own micro-scores.

For the moment when her character, Joyce, kisses her love interest for the first time, Robinson heard three ascending notes, as soft as an eyelash falling onto a cheek. The 28-year-old felt as if her heart was emitting a specific emotional frequency in that moment. Synesthesia allowed her to manifest it.

When we spoke, Robinson apologized continuously for the darkness of her apartment. Winter had finally arrived in New York: That day, the temperature fell to 6 degrees Fahrenheit. Having been raised across the road from a sheep farm in frosty Middlebury, Vermont, the actor finds the cold comforting.

Growing up, her family constantly cozied up to watch movies—classics, lots of black-and-white. One year, the Robinsons watched Roman Holiday every week. “I feel closer to people in movies than people in my own life,” the actor confesses. “The stakes, the height of people’s expression, the sensitivity and feelings—it’s more like how I live.”


When Robinson was 9, her family moved to England, where she fell in love with Shakespeare after watching a performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Stratford-upon-Avon. During high school, she bounced between Vermont, Switzerland, and Michigan, attending three schools in four years. “Moving around at that age triggered this thing in my brain,” she says. “I’m constantly novelty-seeking.”

After two years at the prestigious Interlochen Arts Academy, Robinson made her way to the hallowed halls of the Juilliard School in New York. She landed small but coveted parts in films like Greta Gerwig’s Little Women and Charlie Kaufman’s I’m Thinking of Ending Things before snagging a major role as Jeanie Buss in the HBO series Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty.

One of Robinson’s New Year’s resolutions is to prioritize connection. “In the past decade, I’ve met 5 to 15 people every year who have left an indelible mark on me,” she says. She is hellbent on meeting more of them: She’s enrolled in philosophy, chess, and painting classes, and is making music with producer and fellow Juilliard grad Jack MG. All of these pursuits reflect the actor’s mission statement: to make work that changes people, even for a moment.

Jazmine Hughes is a National Magazine Award-winning writer based in Brooklyn, New York, and Oaxaca de Juárez, Mexico. 

MAKEUP BY Vittorio Masecchia
HAIR BY Hikaru
NAILS BY Tracy Clemens
CASTING BY Tom Macklin
STYLING ASSISTANCE BY Andrew McFarland, Laura Cheron Haquette, and Arianna Thode
PRODUCTION BY Giulia di Stravola
DIGITECH BY Victor Prieto
SET DESIGN BY Romain Goudinoux

Want more of young Hollywood? Check out CULTURED's profiles of Celeste O'Connor and Yara Shahidi. Pre-order the Art+ Film print issue here.