If two’s a crowd and three’s a party, then an ensemble cast of some of the hottest new talent in Hollywood is… a full-on rager.
Booksmart, the directorial debut of Olivia Wilde that EW’s own critic called “riotous,” offers up the possibility of a breakout star to the power of at least 10. The coming-of-age comedy follows Molly and Amy, two book-smart (duh) students in an L.A. suburb who are intent on spending their last night of high school chasing a wild party dream they never realized they had, and puts its young talent front and center. Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever take the lead, joined by Billie Lourd (Gigi, the party girl), Skyler Gisondo (Jared, the party bro), Molly Gordon (the aptly named Triple A), Noah Galvin (George, the lead drama queen), Austin Crute (Alan, his partner in crime), Mason Gooding (Nick, Molly’s crush), Victoria Ruesga (Ryan, Amy’s crush), Diana Silvers (Hope, the pretty one), and Nico Hiraga and Eduardo Franco (Tanner and Theo, the skaters).
You’ve probably seen a few of them before — Lourd in Scream Queens and American Horror Story, Dever on Last Man Standing, Gordon as Melissa McCarthy’s daughter in Life of the Party, and Feldstein in Neighbors 2 and Lady Bird — and, as the cast recently explained to EW, they were in each other’s orbits well before Wilde brought them all together.
“Molly [Gordon] and I were best friends for 13 years or something like that,” Feldstein said. “So for us to be in this movie together, it’s so insanely meaningful for us. I fully cried [at the premiere] in London. And Billie and I went to high school together but were in different grades.”
The two never became friends as children despite similar orbits (Feldstein is Jonah Hill’s younger sister, and Lourd is the daughter of Carrie Fisher), and similar overlap is evident among other cast members: Gordon and Galvin have done theater together for years, Ruesga and Hiraga went to skate camp together, and Gooding grew up Hollywood-adjacent as well (he is Cuba Gooding Jr.’s son).
Booksmart as a whole has a kind of kismet to it, whether it’s the film’s long journey to the big screen or the all too on-the-nose casting. Dever was the first to jump on board, and describes herself and Feldstein, pre-Booksmart, as ships passing in the night.
“I had read this script about four years ago, and I had been waiting for this movie to be made,” she told EW. “It felt like an eternity. Both Beanie and I were cast before we met — we never read together — and Olivia just had so much faith in us. It was like the missing puzzle piece was finally there.”
Feldstein, describing the first moment they were in the same vicinity (at the Toronto Film Festival), adds: “Kaitlyn was in pink, like a vision. She walked out of the room as I’m walking into a room and I was like, oh!”
Since most of the movie takes place at different pre-graduation parties, the young cast spent most of their time on night shoots — which can spell either disaster or caffeine-and-sugar-fueled bonding in between scenes. With the Booksmart cast, it manifested as the latter (Lourd recalls “countless hours in a bed wearing faux fur, making up beautiful rap songs until 6 in the morning” with Gordon and Haraga), and the result is a a group of young actors with an enviable bond.
Don’t believe us? When they visited the EW studios, we put them to the ultimate screen test (watch above and below for more). Squad goals indeed.