Kaitlyn Dever, Beanie Feldstein get ‘Booksmart’ in new indie film

By Katherine Savage, Staff Reporter

Orlando Pinder
“Booksmart,” Olivia Wilde’s directorial film debut, will premiere May 24. It stars (from left) Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein.

Amy and Molly have spent their high school careers studying nonstop to get into Ivy League schools. On the eve of graduation, they realize their peers got into the same schools even while having fun and partying. Determined to make high school memorable, they set off on a mission to have the best night of their lives.

Kaitlyn Dever, who plays Amy, and Beanie Feldstein, who plays Molly, spoke with The Chronicle about their characters and the film’s message.

THE CHRONICLE: How do you relate to your characters?

DEVER: I always think I started out as an Amy the first two years of high school. I was very dedicated; I had a love for school. Then I turned into—for people who have seen the movie—more of a Hope. The main thing I loved about Amy is she goes about her life with kindness and compassion. I always try to mirror her dedication.

FELDSTEIN: I always say I’m like Molly with the edges sanded down. [The writers] also infused a lot of our natural selves into [the characters] over time. [Molly’s] not very warm at the beginning of the film—and I like to consider myself warm—but I definitely have her passion and her unapologetic intensity.

What was the most difficult part of acting in the film?

FELDSTEIN: There’s a scene where we had to learn Mandarin. I’m not good with languages, so I was really nervous about that. But that scene is so funny and a clear way to exhibit their intellect without talking about it.

DEVER: We talk the whole movie. Beanie and I had never led a film before, so we knew going into it, we have to get this right. Our language is so back and forth and smart and quick and witty. [I] was just thinking, “God, I’ve never been in every single scene in a movie every day,” and it scared me. That’s what’s so fun about making movies—doing something [one’s] scared of and then having it be great in the end.

What do you want people to walk away with after seeing ‘Booksmart’?

DEVER: This is not just a comedy for young women because there are two young women in the leading roles. [Director] Oliva [Wilde] really wanted to change the view we have on female comedies. Everyone can relate to someone in this movie. The film asks the audience to look at the world a little differently and place less judgment on people, and in return, [they] might actually judge [themselves] a little less.

FELDSTEIN: Movies about boys get to be for anyone; for some reason [movies with] young girls are [repulsive]. It opens [the audience] up to seeing people more clearly for who they are versus who [they are expected] to be because of preconceived notions. We love the tagline, “You read them wrong,” because it’s twofold. The audience is reading us wrong. My character reads all of her classmates wrong and is led to seeing them more clearly and more openly.