Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein talk Booksmart and Booksmart: The Musical

Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein talk Booksmart

Back in April at CinemaCon, I had a poolside chat with Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever to discuss their latest film, Booksmart. The film follows Amy and Molly, two friends who suddenly realize that they wasted their high school experience by studying and forgetting to have some fun along the way. After learning that their classmates are also getting into top schools, Amy and Molly set out to make their final night of high school a memorable one.

Scott:               Hey, Kaitlyn! Hey Beanie, it so good to see you both!  I’m so proud of both of you!

Kaitlyn:             Thank you. Good seeing you again.

Beanie:             Thank you! We met at Lady Bird, right?

Scott:               Wow, great memory. Yep, it was you, me and Lucas Hedges. That was such a great time.

Beanie:             I remember that. It was a lot of fun.

Scott:                So, Kaitlyn you are from the Short Term 12 Universe, which has blown up over the past few years, especially for Brie and Rami.

Kaitlyn:             I know, I don’t know what happened. It just happened.

Scott:               And now, the director of that, Destin Daniel Cretton, is going on to do the Shang-Chi movie. So, I’m hoping this is your big breakout!

Beanie:             It is!

Kaitlyn:             I’m just so happy for the whole cast of Short Term 12. I think it’s incredible. Keith, Brie, and even John. I feel like it’s incredible to be a part of something that everyone loved so much. I want them to re-release it.

Beanie:             That’s such a good idea.

Kaitlyn:             I feel like they should.

Beanie:             I need to buy a pack of tissues.

Scott:               I want to ask Beanie, because I’m a Broadway fan, and one of the highlights from my Lady Bird interview with you was when you told me about getting to be in Hello Dolly on Broadway.

Kaitlyn:             This is the saddest thing for me because I never got to see her in this, and everyone was talking about it nonstop.

Scott:               I know, for me as well. I didn’t get to go either.

Kaitlyn:             This is a disappointing thing for me, honestly.

Beanie:             It’s okay. Hopefully, I’ll do it again. Not Dolly, but probably I’ll do another show again.

Scott:               So, how was it? You’ve got to tell me about the experience. I’ve been dying to ask you since that interview.

Beanie:             I mean, how much time do we have? It was my lifetime dream coming true. There is no other way to say it. The group of people that I worked with on this show are still to this day, my family. Like when I see them, I feel like I’m coming home to something. They are the most talented, loving human beings. And I did it for a year and Broadway is no joke. It is eight times a week, you wake up every day, and you do that beautiful show. And I just loved it because it brought so much joy to the world. People left happier, and that is something I could not have dreamt for myself. Even at nine, when I was like “I want to be on Broadway” I had no idea that it would be Hello Dolly. I still don’t understand it. I did it for a year, and I still don’t understand it.

Scott:               You’ve had a roller coaster of a ride.

Beanie:             Yes.

Scott:               Kaitlyn, do you ever want to perform on stage?

Kaitlyn:             I mean, I don’t believe in myself, but I feel like I really want to.

Beanie:             She sings like a bird.

Scott:               You can do it.

Beanie:             Have you ever heard her sing?

Scott:               No, I don’t believe so.

Beanie:             Oh, my God. She and her sister have a band. You have to look it up. So good.

Kaitlyn:             Yeah, we do. It’s called Beulahbelle

Scott:               Okay, I will look it up.

Beanie:             She sings in Booksmart.

Scott:               Yes, that Is right. I loved Booksmart and saw it at SXSW.

Kaitlyn:             I feel like I would really love to do it. I was talking to Beanie about it when we were shooting, and she was like, ” No, you can definitely do it.” I’m like, “But how do you sing every night, that doesn’t seem like it’s doable.” But I guess, you just train your voice a certain way so I would love to do that. I would love to do a play too.

Scott:               Okay, so both of you should do a show together. Just saying.

Beanie:             I would love that.

Kaitlyn:             Oh my god. Just saying. Booksmart the musical.

Scott:               Let’s make it happen!

Beanie:             We’ve never thought about that.

Scott:        There you go.

Kaitlyn:             Not mad at that.

Beanie:             Oh my god. We leave here, and we’re writing Booksmart the Musical.

Scott:               There you go. Just give me some credit me ok (laughs). Anywho, I saw Booksmart at SXSW. I loved it. It’s a wonderful film. And it has the perfect balance of raunchiness but is never over the top. I feel like there are so many movies nowadays, especially with all of the coming of age stuff where it has become so tiresome. But this one strikes that perfect balance of humor and heart. And I have to give both of you so much credit because your chemistry is out of this word. It’s like you guys knew each other for decades and are best friends.

Kaitlyn:             Aww. Thank you.

Beanie:             That’s so nice.

Scott:               What is the experience like for you being on set working together? Did you guys do any activities to develop that chemistry? I mean, even now, I can tell, you both are very close.

Beanie:             We lived together. During the shooting a bit. We shared an apartment. So that was definitely a big part of us becoming ridiculously comfortable with one another.

It started with the three of us, me, Kaitlyn, and Olivia at lunch. This was the first time Kaitlyn, and I’d ever met. And Liv was like, “Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could just like live together?” And we all froze. Olivia asked, “Can we ask them? Can we make that happen?” Because I live in New York, and we were shooting in L.A., so I was going to need somewhere to live anyway. And we were like, ” can you make it a two bedroom?” And they were like, “Yeah, we could do that as it would be really great for the film.” So, I came out like a month before we even started shooting so we could rehearse and hang out beforehand.  And chatting with Liv and Katy that day was heaven.

Scott:               That is a great way to really get to know someone. What was it like to be an audience member for Booksmart, during that SXSW premiere?

Kaitlyn:             To see it for the first time in a theater is always strange because you just never know how a movie is going to turn out when you’re making it. I think that’s why Booksmart is so good. We didn’t really have any expectations for it. We just wanted to make it as honest and be faithful to the characters as real as possible. But I think that in the theater, I was amazed by the energy. You can feel it in the room. Even if they’re not laughing, they’re just so engaged. And I think that Booksmart is not only funny, but it takes you through such an emotional journey, especially towards the end. I honestly think people are relating to it too. And no matter what age you are, or what point in your life you’re at. We had a very diverse theater too, so that was just an all-around electric feeling. It was so cool. And then there was a girl after who asked a question during the Q&A. Did you go to the premiere?

Scott:               Yeah, I was at that premiere.

Kaitlyn:             Well, she started tearing up because she was talking about how she felt seen by the movie. And Beanie and I both looked at each other, and we thought like wow. It was moving. And it made me think about the reason why we even wanted to be a part of Booksmart in the first place.

Beanie:             I think I was in a state of shock the entire time. I couldn’t even believe it. I loved it when I saw it. I loved it so much. But you never know, like Kaitlyn said, “Like just never know.” And to be in that room, I will always remember walking out with Kaitlyn for that Q & A. Because we were just shaking and clutching each other’s hand. My parents both came to Austin. And to hear my dad laugh at this film… he loved it. And my dad does not give it away easily. He doesn’t love everything. He’s honest. He was like, “B, I loved that film. Kaitlyn Dever is like one of the best actresses I’ve ever seen in my life.” And I was like, “I agree, Dad.” He literally talked to me for forty-five minutes about how he thinks Kaitlyn is the actress of our generation. And I agree.

Scott:               I agree (turns to Kaitlyn) you are very talented and underrated. You deserve more and more roles.

Beanie:             She’s the best.

Scott:               She is and Oliva is as well. I just want to throw that out there because I feel like Oliva Wilde has been so overlooked.

Beanie:             That room was seeing and celebrating this film, this anthem, that Olivia made that is so entirely her. And I mean, you feel the DNA of Olivia Wilde and Katie Silberman, our incredible writer. Every frame of the film is infused with their spirit, their intellect, their warmth, and their swagger. Like Olivia is so cool, that soundtrack, the visual of it, everything. And so, it was just so special. And the whole cast was there too and such an ensemble piece. And it was a night I don’t think I’ll ever forget, honestly. It was really special.

Scott:               Ok, confession time.

Kaitlyn:             Uh, oh.

Scott:               I went to SXSW, and I was really excited for Us, and I liked it. But Booksmart was my number one choice. And when you hype something up, as we often do even as critics and journalists, they very rarely live up to that expectations. This movie lived up to my expectations. And it’s not just me. My wife also reviews, and she loved it too.

Kaitlyn:             Oh my god, that makes me so happy.

Beanie:             Oh, wow, it’s a family affair. That is so nice.

Scott:               Yeah. So, Olivia mentioned at the CinemaCon luncheon that she made you watch Fast Time to Ridgemont High. Was that your first time watching it?

Beanie:             It was mine.

Kaitlyn:             I had seen it before, but I was a little younger. Yeah. It was cool.

Scott:               Going off that, what is your favorite movie in the whole coming of age genre or high school setting?

Kaitlyn:             I haven’t mentioned this one yet, but I love Weird Science.

Beanie:             Never seen it.

Kaitlyn:             That’s a really good one about two best friends in high school. They’re nerds and create this hot woman using the computer. It is their dream girl. And then, they don’t end up with the hot woman at the end because they realize they don’t need that. But it’s a really funny movie. It is very weird, quirky.

Beanie:             Amazing.

Kaitlyn:             I love the theme song. Who did that song? Was it Oingo Boingo?

Scott:               Yep, that was them.

Kaitlyn:             It was a very cool movie. It’s a John Hughes movie.

Beanie:             I’ve never seen that one.

Kaitlyn:             It’s a good one. People don’t remember that it’s a John Hughes movie. But it’s a John Hughes film.

Scott:               Yeah, everyone always says Breakfast Club or Ferris Bueller.

Kaitlyn:             Anthony Michael Hall. But then there is Sixteen Candles…

Beanie:             Yeah, Sixteen Candles

Kaitlyn:             Pretty in Pink

Beanie:             Molly (Ringwald), she knew what she was doing. I feel like the one I remember watching the most in high school was Mean Girls. That was the one, I’ve seen thousands of times. But for me, the movie that I think Booksmart is an ode to is Bridesmaids.

Scott:               Interesting comparison.

Beanie:             I think that film showed so many different women being uniquely funny in their own way. And it’s a movie about friendship. It’s a movie about Kristen Wig and Maya Rudolph’s character falling in and out of love with each other, through this journey of getting married. And I feel like Booksmart takes that celebration of friendship and hysterical women and brings it to a younger age group. So, for me, it’s Bridesmaids. Even though it’s not a coming of age, it’s like coming-of-a-second-age whereas adults you are coming to terms with a new stage of life where your friends are getting married.

Scott:               Do you think Clueless isn’t as relevant anymore?

Beanie:             No.

Kaitlyn:             I don’t think so. I think that all of those movies, we pulled from, it was not just Fast times. But without those movies, we wouldn’t have Booksmart. And we wouldn’t have been inspired to take all of those movies to another level, without Clueless, Mean Girls, Bridesmaids, Fast Times, and The Breakfast Club. All of those we were talking about in prep.

Scott:               Yeah, I agree. This is a film for the new generation. And one of my favorite scenes in the movie is the stop motion scene.

Kaitlyn:             Oh my god yeah.

Scott:               I love that scene. What was it like to voice your animated self?

Beanie:             Kaitlyn’s doll looks so much like her.

Kaitlyn:             It freaks me out. I need that doll. We should find out if we can get a doll at some point. That process was hilarious because it was one of those things you don’t know until almost the very end, when it’s finished because that whole stop motion scene had to be created. And it took several months. And we were constantly re-working it and re-writing it. And we would send Olivia and Katie voice memo recordings on our iPhone from home after we were filming because they were working on all of it.

Beanie:             I was in London and saying things like, “You’re a fucking doll.”

Kaitlyn:             It was so fun, though. It is turned out so good. It was one of those things where you have no idea and your like, “Oh, I don’t know how that’s going to look.” And it looks insane. It looks so funny.

Beanie:             They nailed it. We did do a lot of iterations, and we saw a lot of different mock-ups, but seeing it finalized was so good.

Scott:               I have two final questions because I know they want to wrap it up. I would love to talk to you ladies for longer because I’m a big fan of both of you.

Beanie:             Thank you. I love your glasses, by the way.

Scott:               Thank you so much!

Beanie:             Very cool looking frames.

Scott:               Thank you, my wife picked them out. I wanted to circle back to Olivia because I’ve been a big fan of her work, and as I said earlier, I feel like she’s very underappreciated as an actress. Now that you’ve worked with her and you’ve probably seen a lot of her work, what is your favorite Olivia Wilde movie?

Beanie:             Oh, I just saw A Vigilante. I saw it on Tuesday. I couldn’t sleep after that; it was one of the most earth-shattering performances. It’s so good. That’s the one that’s fresh in my mind.

Kaitlyn:             I’d say, Drinking Buddies. That was at SXSW too, right?

Scott:               Yes, it was. I actually saw that there as well.

Kaitlyn:             I love that movie. She’s incredible in that movie. I love subtlety. I love a simple slice of life movie. And I feel like that’s a good film that showcases her just being an excellent actor.

Scott:               I agree with both of you. Credit to you Beanie for saying A Vigilante. Because I agree, she’s incredible in that one. But the one I love, and I’m sure you didn’t see it was a little film called Butter.

Kaitlyn:             No.

Beanie:             No.

Scott:               It also has Hugh Jackman in that. She played a prostitute in this small town, like bumblefuck town somewhere in America.

Kaitlyn:             Oh, do you know who’s in that? Yara Shahidi but she was a little girl in the movie. And now she’s our age.

Scott:               And then the last question, this one is for you, Beanie. So, you worked with Greta Gerwig on her directorial debut. And now you worked with Olivia on this one. How did their style vary?

Beanie:             Oh. That’s fascinating. I have not been asked that before.

Beanie:             Well, I would say the biggest difference would be the relation to the script. Greta wrote Lady Bird, and we did it exactly, everything to the word which for me is very comfortable because I have a theater background. You wouldn’t go into a show and be like, “I think I’m going to change what Arthur Miller wrote today. You know, loosen up the timing a little bit, and throw in an and.” You can’t do that in theater. So, for me, working with Greta; every word was extremely precise, and every word of that film, even though it feels so relaxed and relatable is so meticulously curated.

With Olivia, what was so vastly different, she and Katie were so collaborative as far as getting us alternatives. We had a lot of alt lines. Things would change. So, it was much more of an on your toes, sort of thing; she kept us on our toes. The four of us convening and being like, “Let’s do this. Let’s do that.” Although, we stuck a lot of Katie’s script. But there were moments where we would add or change things. Or Noah Galvin would come in and blow the pants off of a scene, and then it would open up. And so that was the most significant difference; Lady Bird was the exact word which was memorized and precise. And we came in fully memorized for Booksmart, but then things would open up should they need be if that makes sense.

Scott:               Makes total sense. That’s good. Well, it was nice seeing you both again.

Beanie:             So lovely seeing you too.

Kaitlyn:             Good to see you.

Scott:               Take care, and I will see you both again soon.

Booksmart is now playing in theaters nationwide.


Written by
Born in New Jersey, Scott D. Menzel has been a film fanatic since he was three years old. Growing up, he watched as many movies as he could and was highly influenced by Tim Burton, John Hughes, Robert Zemeckis, and Steven Spielberg. Scott has an Associates Degree in Marketing, a Bachelors in Mass Media, Communications and a Masters in Electronic Media. He has been writing film reviews under the alias of MovieManMenzel since 2003 and started his writing career as a contributing critic at IMDB.com and Joblo.com. In 2009, Scott launched MovieManMenzel.com where he posted several of his film reviews but in 2011 decided to shut down the site when he launched We Live Film.com, which he founded. In 2015, We Live Film became We Live Entertainment. The domain name changed occurred after months of debate but was done so that he and his fellow staff members could write about anything and everything in the world of entertainment.

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