Haley Lu Richardson On Surviving The Apocalypse & Playing A Teenage Badass In 'The Last Survivors'

If you're fan of The Hunger Games, Tris Prior, or just movies in general featuring female leads who are beyond badass, might I recommend The Last Survivors ? The film, out Aug. 4 on VOD and Blu-Ray, focuses on teenager Kendal (played by the talented Haley Lu Richardson), who is trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic world, alongside her ill best friend, Dean (Twilight's Booboo Stewart). While defending her piece of land in the now deserted state of Oregon, Kendal must battle the remaining individuals in her desolate town for her life and her water, which comes from one of the last working wells in her valley. In addition to it being an intriguing film that keeps you on the edge of your seat, The Last Survivors features a fantastic performance from its lead actress, a 20-year-old who filmed the scarily intense role at only 17.

Speaking to Bustle by phone, Richardson revealed that she was immediately attracted to the part of Kendal — and not only because she gets to show off some amazing sword and hatchet-fighting skills. Says the star, "I don't know what about her wouldn't attract a 17-year-old girl to that role. I mean, just the role itself — the strength, the fact that it's a teenage girl that ends up saving the day, and being a badass, and fighting to save people's lives and herself, you don't find that anywhere."

Richardson, who also stars in August's The Bronze alongside Melissa Rauch and Sebastian Stan, says she had yet to find a "strong" and "powerful" role like Kendal for a girl her age. Thankfully, The Last Survivors came along, and with it, an important role model for young women. Kendal is a survivor and a fighter, and regardless of consequence, stands her ground. Richardson says that she hopes that when watching the film, young female viewers will take away the message that "you can be your own superhero."

"You don't need someone to come in and save you," she says. "She [Kendal] has these relationships with men ... [but] she, at the end of the day, rose above it. All of the choices that she made and how loyal she was and how relentless and strong she was, she saved herself ... and she got through it."

She's not only talking about the character; the grueling shoot took a major toll on Richardson's 17-year-old self.

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"I went through so much physically, being thrown in different weather situations, going in that oil, being covered in blood, working 20 hours a day," the actress says. "When you're watching it, enjoy the movie, and also know that a 17-year-old girl had to film that movie and had to actually do all of the things that were there."

A young actress giving an honest, powerful performance in a movie about survival and feminism? If that doesn't convince you to check out The Last Survivors, I don't know what will.

Images: Federighi Films/Dark Sky Films (2)