October 02, 2013 at 04:00 AM EDT

After wrangling an Oscar nomination for her feature-film debut in 2010’s True Grit, Hailee Steinfeld took on the female lead in this retelling of Shakespeare’s famed romance, which was shot in Italy and adapted for the big screen by Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes. The starlet had a head start in prepping to play the object of Romeo’s (Douglas Booth) forbidden affection. ”I actually was reading the book in school at the time that I read the script,” says Steinfeld, 16, who will soon begin her junior year (in homeschooling). ”It was so convenient. I was able to ace every test?and understand the part.”

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