Why Harper From Happiest Season Looks So Familiar
Perhaps the best part of the happiest season — the holiday season, that is — is that friends and family come together to observe their unique holiday traditions. Whether it’s singing carols, tending to the fireplace, making potato pancakes, or decorating the home together, these traditions help us get into the spirit of the season — even if you’re doing so over Zoom or FaceTime.
Another popular tradition many folks have is, of course, watching holiday movies. From Elf to The Nutcracker to Die Hard to Hallmark holiday movies, there’s no shortage of films to choose from. Plus, in addition to these classics, sometimes we get the gift of a new holiday film that gets added to our must-watch list. That’s certainly the case with Happiest Season, the Hulu film that has everyone buzzing. It’s about time we got the queer Christmas movie we’ve all been waiting for! And if you’re wondering why Harper from Happiest Season, the girlfriend of Kristen Stewart’s character, looks so familiar, we’ve got you covered. Here are the major films and shows that actress Mackenzie Davis has starred in over the years.
Mackenzie Davis had a big supporting role in Breathe In
Long before playing Harper from Happiest Season, Mackenzie Davis had one of her first film roles when she starred in Breathe In, alongside Guy Pearce, Amy Ryan, and Felicity Jones. She was cast by director Drake Doremus, who obviously saw something special in her. “He gave me my first job,” she explained to Under the Radar. “I probably need to grow out of this at some point, but every new job I get, I’m like, ‘Thank you, Drake, for hiring me the first time.'” Hey, you gotta start somewhere!
As far as filming Breath In, Doremus leans heavily on improvisation in his direction, something that Davis was grateful for. “I just didn’t know any of the technical things that you just learn through experience,” she continued. “So I was just so happy he was like, just go do whatever you want and we’ll capture it.”
After that, Davis became quite the in-demand actress, launching what was to become a super impressive career in Hollywood.
Mackenzie Davis made out with Adam Driver on day one shooting What If
While What If wasn’t Mackenzie Davis’ first film ever, it certainly was her first time working with such an insanely star-studded cast. Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Zoe Kazan, and Adam Driver, What If was the rom-com to see in 2013, thanks to not just the cast, but also the writing and the direction.
In the film, Davis plays Nicole opposite Driver’s Allan, two people who meet at a party and quickly fall in love. That, of course, meant that Davis had to spend a lot of time making out with Driver, which, as she tells it, was the first thing they did. “We just made out the second we met,” she revealed in an interview with Collider. Lucky!
The Happiest Season actress wasn’t too intimidated by the whole thing, either, as other actors might have been. “I think it’s fun,” she continued. “I mean, not just making out, which I do think is really fun, but I like being put into very uncomfortable situations and having to swim.”
Mackenzie Davis wasn't that awkward in That Awkward Moment
In 2014, Happiest Season‘s Mackenzie Davis landed a pretty sweet role in the bromantic comedy That Awkward Moment, which starred Zac Efron, Miles Teller, and Michael B. Jordan. Davis played Chelsea in the film, who, despite the film’s title, is a pretty darn confident character. “You know, Chelsea really isn’t that awkward,” Davis shared in a chat with Refinery29. “I think I’m much more awkward and uncomfortable in my own life than she is.” Talk about relatable.
Davis had a really great time on the set of That Awkward Moment, too, as she and her co-stars spent a lot of time laughing together. “It didn’t have the pressure of being this crazy multimillion dollar movie,” she continued. “Instead it was very pleasant and lovely and funny.”
Davis also got a sense of what it was like to be “hounded by paparazzi,” as Efron was apparently mobbed by them during filming. “It was weird to have some sort of insight into that world of opening up your trailer and having a swarm of paparazzi outside,” she added.
You may recognize Harper from Happiest Season from Halt and Catch Fire
After acting in a handful of films and making a name for herself, Mackenzie Davis got cast in the AMC series Halt and Catch Fire. Along with Lee Pace and Scoot McNairy, Davis starred in the drama, which had a four-season run on television. And while it wasn’t as wildly popular as other AMC fare like Breaking Bad, Halt and Catch Fire held its own.
Not surprisingly, the cast of the series became friends during filming, thanks to how they prepared for each episode. “Lee suggested a get together at his house, make dinners together, and go through each episode,” Davis recalled in an interview with Collider. “I don’t know what the show would be like if we hadn’t had done that, because it bonded us all so close.”
The actors even waited so they could all read the final script for the series together, something they’d never done before. “We’ve always had our own stuff going into it,” Davis, aka Harper from Happiest Season, continued. “But, we all discovered it together. I’m so glad we did that.”
Horror fans will remember the actress behind Harper from Happiest Season from this movie
Things got a little supernatural for Mackenzie Davis when she signed on to star in the film Freaks of Nature. She played a vampire named Petra in the horror flick — who, along with a zombie (Josh Fadem) and a human (Nicholas Braun), has an important task to accomplish: saving the world. Where’s Buffy Summers when you need her?
However, before the ragtag trio can save anything or anyone, Davis’ character goes through it. “She starts out trying to fit in, in the world, but then she gets bitten by a vampire and turned and cast aside, much like losing your virginity and then having someone dump you the morning afterwards,” she explained to Collider.
While Petra remains quite vulnerable throughout Freaks of Nature, Davis says she starts to come into her own, eventually gaining confidence in herself and her abilities. “She starts to think it’s really cool because she’s strong and helps save the world, after she accepts these new powers that she has,” she added.
Before playing Harper from Happiest Season, Mackenzie Davis played a NASA engineer
Mackenzie Davis was offered the role of a lifetime in the Ridley Scott film The Martian, which starred Matt Damon, and brought home the Golden Globe for best film (as well as seven Oscar nominations). It was also critically lauded and popular among moviegoers, as noted by Rotten Tomatoes.
While the cast did have some diversity, thanks to the presence of actors like Donald Glover and Chiwetel Ejiofor, Davis’ character (Mindy Park) was intended to be Korean — which Davis only learned about after the fact. “I worked with an actress called Megan Park, and maybe it was because I knew her name that I thought it was a white name,” she explained in an interview with Vulture.
That’s not to say that Davis excuses herself in the least, as she was very affected when she found out about the whitewashing. “I don’t mean to absolve myself of any complicity because I didn’t know,” she continued. “But I thought a lot about it because it took me by surprise.” So, of course, Davis has some regrets, but she also treasured the experience of working on The Martian.
Happiest Season's Mackenzie Davis got an award for her acting in Always Shine
When Mackenzie Davis was filming the first season of Halt and Catch Fire, she received a script for a project entitled Always Shine. She sat down to read it on a cold February morning and recalled “just being blown away at the storytelling and embarrassed at how intimate and personal it felt to my own life,” as she revealed to Vulture. So naturally, she took the part.
Always Shine is about two female friends who, after years of being competitive and getting jealous of each other, take a road trip up the Pacific Coast. With Davis as Anna and Caitlyn FitzGerald as Beth, the film explores how societal pressure impacts women. “We receive constant, unsolicited feedback on ourselves, on our looks, our bodies, our opinions, how loud we are, how aggressive we are,” Davis continued. “It just seems like the whole world is asking us to find a very narrow place to exist.”
Davis, who’d go on to play Harper from Happiest Season, received the award for best actress in a U.S. narrative feature film at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2016 for her work in the movie (via IndieWire). Congrats, Mackenzie!
Mackenzie Davis stole hearts the beloved "San Junipero" episode of Black Mirror
One of Mackenzie Davis’ most beloved performances was in the iconic queer episode of Black Mirror entitled “San Junipero.” In the episode, Davis plays Yorkie, who finds herself falling in love with a gorgeous and mysterious woman named Kelly, played brilliantly by Gugu Mbatha-Raw. “Yorkie seems like she’s just bitten off of the tree of knowledge at the very beginning of that episode and is learning about the whole world for the first time,” Davis explained in an interview with Vulture.
Unlike many queer films that have come before, (spoiler!) the end of “San Junipero” is happy, as Kelly and Yorkie can be young, beautiful, and in love forever. And for Yorkie, this is a transcendent reality. “It’s the first time she gets to experience unhindered love and ecstasy and joy,” Davis continued. “It’s so beautiful.”
“San Junipero” was such a hit that it took home two Emmy Awards in 2017: one for outstanding television movie and one for outstanding writing for a limited series, movie, or dramatic special. And, of course, it made Davis a “lesbian thirst icon,” according to Vulture.
The actress behind Harper from Happiest Season received a special award for this performance
In 2017, on the heels of her performance in Black Mirror, Mackenzie Davis returned to the big screen in Izzy Gets the F*ck Across Town. Written and directed by Christian Papierniak, Davis plays a comedic antiheroine in the film, who’s trying to get across Los Angeles to crash her ex-boyfriend’s engagement party. And while Izzy is definitely not at a great place in her life, Davis hopes audiences will happily go on her journey with her. “We’re not expected to judge her,” she told Salon. “[We’re] hoping people want to figure out why she is the way she is.”
In addition to starring in Izzy Gets the F*ck Across Town, Davis also produced the film in a move to own herself and her brand more. “I definitely think I want to have more control in my career in the production and making of films, although it’s a joke that actors want to direct,” she added. “It’s ownership and not just handing [yourself] over to people.”
Davis won a special jury award for best breakout performance at the Napa Valley Film Festival, thanks to her work in the film.
Blade Runner 2049 was a masterclass for Happiest Season's Mackenzie Davis
Just as Mackenzie Davis landed a role in the blockbuster hit The Martian, she also managed to snag a similar-caliber role in the big-budget, Ryan Gosling-fronted film Blade Runner 2049. The long-awaited sequel was quite the star-studded affair, as the impressive cast included Harrison Ford, Edward James Olmos, Robin Wright, and Jared Leto — and that was a bit of an adjustment for Davis. “Everybody was so lovely,” she gushed in a chat with Good Morning America. “It was just the level of expertise that was being dealt with on that set.” She added that it was actually quite “intimidating at first,” which is surprising to exactly no one.
Fortunately, Davis hit her stride in Blade Runner 2049, giving a great performance as Mariette. Still, the production value of the film was a first for her. “I’d never been on such an immersive set before,” she continued. “So it was so beautiful.”
Starring in the sequel to Blade Runner, an utterly iconic film, was a dream come true for Davis — and understandably so! By the way, how much of a dead ringer was Davis for Daryl Hannah, who was in the original?
In Tully, Happiest Season star Mackenzie Davis played a nanny opposite Charlize Theron
When Tully debuted in theaters in 2018, a good chunk of the conversation about it was about Charlize Theron’s bod; the actress gained 50 pounds to play Marlo in the film (via Entertainment Tonight). But what folks might have missed amidst all of that chatter was that both Theron and co-star Mackenzie Davis were phenomenal in the movie.
According to Davis, Tully is about an overwhelmed mother of three kids, whose well-meaning husband doesn’t understand how much work she’s doing in their home. “So her brother gets her a night nanny, which is somebody who comes into your house and watches your newborn while you sleep,” Davis explained in a chat with Interview magazine. “But then the mother and the nurse start hanging out at night. I’m the nurse, and the movie is about that relationship.”
Davis added that Theron is one of the “coolest” people she’s met, as tends to be the case with people who get work in Hollywood, in her experience.
In Terminator: Dark Fate, Mackenzie Davis starred as a super soldier
If you think that Happiest Season‘s Mackenzie Davis isn’t capable of playing an action movie hero, you definitely need to watch Terminator: Dark Fate ASAP. In the 2019 installment of the wildly popular Terminator franchise, Davis holds her own alongside legends Linda Hamilton and Arnold Schwarzenegger as she plays an advanced, time-traveling super-soldier named Grace.
Being the “lesbian thirst icon” that she is, it’s not surprising that queer fans were 100 percent here for Davis playing a badass. “I just think that’s so cool,” she revealed in an interview with Vulture. “I feel like lesbians haven’t really had their time the way gays have, but lesbians are having a time right now in such a satisfying way.” She added that she’s totally honored to be a part of the moment.
Given that the movie was a big-budget blockbuster, of course, Davis saw herself in ads for Terminator: Dark Fate. “It’s like you have a ghost self that goes and does these things, and you don’t really look anything like that person or share any of their qualities, but you’re like, ‘Aw, she’s on a bus!'” she added.
Before taking on Harper from Happiest Season, Mackenzie Davis took on trauma in The Turning
After serving as a super-soldier protecting Sarah Connor in Terminator: Dark Fate, Mackenzie Davis returned to the horror genre in 2020 in The Turning, a modern adaptation of Henry James’ classic story The Turn of the Screw. Starring as Kate alongside Stranger Things‘ Finn Wolfhard and Brooklynn Prince, Davis’ character is someone who’s coming into the events of the film with a lot of damage. “My interpretation or way into this movie is that it is all about being haunted by trauma instead of ghosts, and what happens when you don’t process childhood trauma or adult trauma in a healthy way,” she explained in an interview with Daily Dead.
While Davis says Kate could have fared much better had she faced her trauma in therapy, in the end, she winds up making an even bigger mess. “That stubbornness ends up being really destructive for her, for the kids, for this whole environment,” she added. “Then she’s passed her trauma on to them, and now they can choose to deal with it or inflict it upon other people as well.”
In Irresistible, Happiest Season star Mackenzie Davis was indeed irresistible
In 2020, Mackenzie Davis joined forces with political powerhouse Jon Stewart in his film Irresistible. Starring Steve Carell, Rose Byrne, and American Beauty‘s Chris Cooper, Davis was elated when she was asked to play the seemingly-typical farmer’s daughter in the film. “This script I found funny and smart, and also it genuinely surprised me,” she shared with The Mary Sue. “Every sort of shift in the narrative that came up I could not have seen coming, which is really rare.” And that’s definitely the exception, according to Davis.
Of course, Davis was also delighted by the cast of Irresistible as well, so joining it wasn’t exactly a hardship. “I was excited by every single person who was involved, and I loved the role and the role really surprised me, and yeah, working with Jon,” she continued. “So it was an easy decision for me.” We imagine Davis felt similarly when it came to playing Harper from Happiest Season, as she worked alongside the stunning Kristen Stewart, Dan Levy, Aubrey Plaza, and other talented stars.
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