The women of Booksmart are raising a glass to Jerome… whoever he is. Standing in the Spare Room at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in early May, Olivia Wilde, 35; Beanie Feldstein, 25; and Kaitlyn Dever, 22; are dancing to Lizzo’s song “Jerome,” a scene that’s not dissimilar from their movie, which sees Molly (Feldstein) and Amy (Dever) emphatically dancing it out before school.
Booksmart (May 24), a high school comedy that serves as Wilde’s directorial feature debut, follows two besties who are too smart for their own good — or, more accurately, they’re too smart for their own good senior-year experience. And with one night left before graduation, they decide to make up for four years of skipping parties. In matching blue jumpsuits, Molly and Amy hit the town to prove that smart girls know how to have fun too. At the Roosevelt — though not in matching jumpsuits — Feldstein and Dever take a note from their characters and celebrate their (hilarious) new film with Wilde.
ROUND 1: NEGRONI FOR WILDE, STELLA FOR DEVER, CLUB SODA FOR FELDSTEIN
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Olivia, you get only one directorial debut. Why was this the right movie?
OLIVIA WILDE: Sometimes when people are directing their first film, it becomes this torturous process of proving oneself completely. I just went with: What’s the movie that made me want to make movies? For me, it was the classic high school films, so I went back to Fast Times at Ridgemont High, The Breakfast Club, Dazed and Confused, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. I wanted to reach back into the inspiration that made me want to be in this business in the first place.
KAITLYN DEVER: I feel so honored to be a part of your directorial debut.
BEANIE FELDSTEIN: F— yeah!
DEVER: Twenty years from now, we get to say, “We did her first movie.”
FELDSTEIN: “Remember Olivia Wilde? She’s on her 20th picture. I was in number one!”
WILDE: It’s true, we are inextricably linked in that way forever, in a more profound way than just, “Oh, we made a movie together.”
DEVER: Well, it was also our first lead in a movie.
FELDSTEIN: A lot of women that had a lot to prove and a lot of passion.
And you made a movie with intelligent women at its center, and it shows them talk about things like porn. That’s so rare.
FELDSTEIN: Because if you’re smart, you’re not horny. And if you’re this, you’re not that. You have to be one thing, and they say at the very beginning of the movie, “We’re not one-dimensional!”
WILDE: I love the way [the characters] talk about porn. I have resented for a long time how the idea of sexuality, pornography, natural curiosity about sex has been relegated to men and their conversations. And often when we are given those lines where we talk about sexuality, they sound like lines written for men put in the mouths of women, and then the gimmick is supposed to be, “They talk just like guys! Look, they’re just like the dudes!” And this movie’s like, “We’re not just like dudes. We’re actually hilarious in our own way.”
FELDSTEIN: And also, Molly and Amy have differing opinions.
WILDE: Yes! They’re very different people.
DEVER: But they love each other and their opinions, and celebrate each other for it. I also love that this movie’s not a makeover movie. I feel like we’re constantly watching films and TV where the lead female character has to take off her glasses or straighten her hair to be accepted, and Booksmart is not that. Because these girls know who they are, they know that they are smart and funny, and they just have to prove it to everybody else.
ROUND 2: NEGRONI FOR WILDE, RUM AND COKE FOR DEVER, SPARKLING WATER FOR FELDSTEIN
Whose idea was it for Kaitlyn and Beanie to live together during filming?
WILDE: It’s officially become my idea. But like any great idea, it kind of erupted.
FELDSTEIN: We’d known each other for 20 minutes. I don’t think we’d even gotten our appetizers. We were at the beginning of a lunch.
WILDE: Apps had not dropped and they were already roommates. I do remember that it came out of a conversation where we were talking about [Feldstein’s brother] Jonah [Hill] and Superbad being such a great example of true friendship. Beanie shared that Jonah said that he and Michael [Cera] had spent just tons of time together.
FELDSTEIN: But living together was a different level of it.
DEVER: That never happens. You’re never given the opportunity to live with the person that you’re supposed to be best friends with. And we knew that it was essential for these girls because that’s what this movie lives on, their chemistry.
In the movie, Molly mentions Amy’s crush on the little white cat from The Aristocats. Do you all have an animated crush?
WILDE: That line was written by Beanie Feldstein.
FELDSTEIN: Basically what happened was I refused to not say it in every take because it made Kaitlyn laugh so hard.
DEVER: I will never forget the first time you said that. I peed my pants a little bit.
WILDE: I think mine’s definitely an animal. Bambi’s dad. He makes me feel safe, because for Bambi, all is lost.
FELDSTEIN: My first crush was Bill Clinton, but I don’t know [about an] animated [crush]…
DEVER: Obviously Chad Michael Murray. Jim Carrey as the Mask?
WILDE: That’s sort of animated. If you’re doing real human men, I can change mine from Bambi’s father. [Laughs]
DEVER: [The Little Mermaid’s] Prince Eric was definitely a crush.
FELDSTEIN: Now I’m thinking: Am I projecting and the little white cat was my crush? [Laughs] I despise cats and I want that on record, but the Aristocats can’t hurt me because they’re animated.
ROUND 3: IPA FOR WILDE, TEQUILA SODA WITH TWO LIMES FOR DEVER, STILL WATER FOR FELDSTEIN
Pancakes play a big part in the movie, so how do you all take your pancakes?
[Feldstein and Dever gasp with excitement]
DEVER: Well, if you’re at [West Hollywood restaurant] Hugo’s…
FELDSTEIN: It’s the almond energy pancake all the way.
DEVER: BUT because they give you three, sometimes I do two almond energy and one chocolate chip.
FELDSTEIN: Our first real alone lunch was at Hugo’s, and then we lived a block from Hugo’s, so we would eat there all the time.
DEVER: We ordered in. We were on such a schedule with night shoots.
FELDSTEIN: We’d sleep from, like, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., wake up, eat pancakes.
DEVER: We’d Postmate it. And then I’d get in bed with Beanie, and we’d watch Gilmore Girls and go over our lines.
Aside from living together, were there any other cast bonding activities?
DEVER: Everyone was hanging out together.
WILDE: I sent Nico [Hiraga] and Mason [Gooding] on playdates and asked for evidence. I was like, “I want you to go to someone’s house and play games.” They sent me videos of them slicing oranges with machetes. I was like, “Is this what boys do for fun?”
FELDSTEIN: Molly [Gordon] would drive Nico home every morning.
WILDE: We did watch Fast Times before we started shooting, and I think everyone was inspired by the strength of that ensemble.
FELDSTEIN: I think about the nights on the camera truck after we finished shooting. Those are some of my favorite memories. I’ve never done that before.
WILDE: I, too, have never felt such a desire to hang around. I was so impressed at the professionalism throughout the cast. There was never one complaint.
FELDSTEIN: Why would you?! You’re on Olivia Wilde’s set doing Booksmart!
A version of this story appears in the new issue of Entertainment Weekly, on stands Friday, or buy your choice of two different Game of Thrones covers — Daenerys or the Starks — now. Don’t forget to subscribe for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.
• Booksmart offers riotous, loopy-sweet teen comedy: EW review
• Booksmart director Olivia Wilde says Beanie Feldstein was her only choice for Molly
• Superbad star Jonah Hill gave sister Beanie Feldstein this advice for Booksmart