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Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein graduate to a new level in Booksmart
by Jerry Nunn, Windy City Times
2019-05-22

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On the eve of their high school graduation, two best friends Amy ( Kaitlyn Dever ) and Molly ( Beanie Feldstein ) party like never before in the entertaining new film Booksmart.

Olivia Wilde directs the movie that was a hit at South by Southwest and will be released in Chicago on May 24.

Dever had roles in The Front Runner and Beautiful Boy on the big screen and on TV she landed a recurring part on Last Man Standing.

Feldstein's resume includes Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising and Lady Bird. She guested on Netflix's Orange Is the New Black and played Minnie Fay in the 2017 Broadway production of Hello, Dolly!

Windy City Times: Did you both study acting in school?

Kaityn Dever: Neither of us did. When I first started acting at age 9, I took acting classes for six months growing up in Texas. That was my only form of going to school for acing.

WCT: So you are from Texas. Where are you from, Beanie?

Beanie Feldstein: I'm from Los Angeles. Don't hold it against me! I grew up doing community musical theater. That was my training ground.

I went to college and studied sociology. I always knew I wanted to do theater and wanted to study something I wouldn't ever study otherwise in life. Sociology became my obsession.

WCT: Where did the nickname Beanie come from?

BF: My given name is Elizabeth, specifically because my brothers wanted me to have a traditional name and that backfired. I had a caretaker who called me "Elizabeanie" from the time I was six weeks old. She was British and said it was a popular British nickname. Funny thing is, I've been to England and everyone said they've never heard it before.

WCT: Speaking of your brother, has Jonah Hill given you some career advice?

BF: In life? Yes! In films? Somewhat. We are such good friends in addition to being brother and sister. We talked about everything, including work, but not only work. Most of the time I'm the one giving him advice [laughs]!

WCT: How were you both cast in the movie Booksmart?

KD: I read Booksmart four and a half years ago. I loved it immediately. Annapurna Pictures wanted me to be a part of it. It was the first movie that I didn't have to audition five times for. Two years later, Olivia was attached and then Beanie came on.

BF: I read for it three years ago for a character that no longer exists in the film. It was passed through a few hands. The original script was written about 10 years ago. It was on the Black List then. The world wasn't ready for it. It had to be updated after every incarnation of it.

When Olivia came onboard she thought I could be her Molly. She wanted to meet in Times Square because she was in 1984 and I was doing Hello, Dolly! We met on 44th Street.

WCT: That sounds like a musical right there! Tell me about working with Bette Midler.

BF: We opened two years ago this weekend. I talked about Bette every day. She's the hardest working human being I've met in my entire life. She doesn't sit down or take breaks. She's so generous and the funniest person on the planet Earth. She's a powerhouse. I learned from her every single day. Her commitment and work ethic are awe inspiring.

WCT: Did you hear about Noah Galvin being cast in Waitress today?

BF: We knew and should go see it together.

KD: Can we? I love him.

WCT: He almost stole the movie Booksmart away from everyone as a hissing gay teen.

KD: I think his journey in this movie is incredible. His character was originally a girl with a completely different name. They created the role essentially for him.

BF: They added him to every scene!

KD: I wanted him to be in the background of every shot. There could have been a separate film about him.

WCT: There's a doll segment in Booksmart. Did you have dolls as kids?

KD: I loved Barbies, but I was more of a Polly Pocket person. I was An American Girl doll because that was my first movie. I was made into a Girl of the Year doll named Gwen Thompson. I had to dye my hair blonde for movie.

BF: I need to buy that doll somewhere! That is what Olivia and our writer, Katie Siberman, loved about that sequence was us being Barbies as our worst nightmares because of societies expectations of what a woman should look like. You can't actually stand up if your body has that proportion. I added the line, "Where's my chub?"

KD: I love when my character was getting turned on by the doll. It wasn't in the original draft, but it really took a turn.

WCT: Gender neutral bathrooms were shown in the movie. Now everyone can gossip in one place! Talk about your role playing a lesbian in Booksmart, Kaitlyn.

KD: It was important to me. In the prep and creating Amy with Olivia, it was never really talked about. We wanted it to represent a generation that is so evolved, progressive and intelligent. I didn't want to put a spotlight on her sexuality and I think she is so much more than that. Even the hookup scene is so beautiful. Olivia wanted it to be honest and treated it with so much care.

WCT: Booksmart is a very female driven film from looking at the cast and crew.

BF: It is. I've never seen two characters like this in the same film. What is so brilliant about Booksmart is there is more than one archetype. The archetype ceases to exist if there is more than one. If there are two smart, nerdy girls, then they have their own thoughts and expressions. The same goes for the crazy, rich kids or the theater group. This movie uses the archetypes to its advantage. You might think you know who someone is, then it flips it on its head.

There's never been a film that gives space for two women to be at the center of it, especially in a comedy where they are in love with each other, not competitive with each other. It's important and unique.

WCT: There's a musical moment in the film. Do you have a favorite musical?

BF: Into the Woods, but Company is really sneaking up there.

KD: I love Mama Mia! and West Side Story.

WCT: West Side Story is making a big come back with the Steven Spielberg movie. Your gay best is Ben Platt, Beanie?

BF: We are a power duo! We went to prom together. We were the Baker and Little Red Riding Hood in high school. We were Pippin and Pippin's grandmother in Pippin.

He's starting his tour here. We are ships in the night. We miss each other, but he saw Booksmart at South by Southwest and he loved it. That meant so much to me because he's my ride or die.

WCT: What do you want to tell people to encourage them to come to Booksmart?

KD: It's a movie that celebrates friendship and will make you want to call your best friend from high school.

BF: It's so funny and has such a good soundtrack. It's such a great ensemble cast. We get to introduce you to so many incredible people along the way. The film is a celebration of this generation. It teaches people to judge others, and yourself, a little less. Go see it with a friend!


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