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Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut, Booksmart, follows two best friends who set aside their overachieving ways to embark on a night of partying after learning that their slacker classmates also got into Ivy League schools.
The film stars Kaitlyn Dever, Beanie Feldstein, Billie Lourd, Molly Gordon and Diana Silvers, who recently stopped by The Hollywood Reporter In Studio to chat about working on the teen comedy. “I knew immediately that Amy was going to be so inspiring for a lot of people,” Dever said. “I feel so incredibly honored to be playing a girl like Amy.”
Feldstein noted how she loves that friendship is “the main character of our film.” “I think that is really, really special, especially between a queer character and a straight character, and a female friendship,” she adds.
In real life, Feldstein attended the same high school as Lourd, though they ran in different circles. “We were in different grades in high school, so we didn’t really know each other but we did, in fact, go to high school together,” Feldstein said. In the film, Lourd plays Gigi, a strange, rich kid who pops up throughout the night and latches onto Amy as her new best friend.
“My high school experience was kind of similar to Gigi’s in a way,” Lourd said. “My superlatives were ‘most edgy’ and ‘most likely to be on the cover of a tabloid.’ Very rude! And not true… they assumed that I was just like, Carrie Fisher’s daughter. Oh Carrie Fisher’s daughter is gonna be on a cover of a tabloid! And that’s not who I was.”
Meanwhile, Gordon and Feldstein have known each other and been friends since middle school. “I feel like I wouldn’t have usually thought that I would be right for this role, and that’s what’s exciting about it,” Gordon said. “I was surprised that I even got to audition for it, but I think that was the genius of Olivia. She realized ‘let’s cast people that maybe wouldn’t always be right for this role’ and it was fun to play something different than me.”
Silvers also clicked with her character right away. “When I first read the script, I wanted to play Hope,” Silvers said. “I mean, I thought she was so cool, and I was like ‘man, if I had the courage to be Hope, I totally would’ … I guess I do that in some respect but not in the same way as Hope did in high school. And it was just really cool to kinda fulfill a weird high school prophecy of like, ‘I totally wasn’t like this in high school and now I get to pretend that I really was!’ ”
When it comes to the inevitable comparisons to 2007’s Superbad, which stars Jonah Hill (Feldstein’s brother in real life) and Michael Cera, Feldstein had some insight. “Superbad] is really showing male friendship at that age — in a really sweet, loving, sincere light — within this raucous, joyous comedy with so many great jokes, but it’s not about the jokes,” Feldstein said. “The reason it lives on is because of that friendship between Michael and Jonah. And we’re so honored to be compared to that.”
She continued, “and the other half of me is like, ‘we need to stop saying that girl movies are girl versions of boy movies.’ It’s like, we’re just another movie.”
Booksmart is in theaters now and boasts a 99 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
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