Beanie Feldstein is taking the lead. After starring in two of the most honest portrayals of female friendship in recent memory (first in Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird as Julie Steffans, the eponymous character’s musical theater-loving BFF; then in Olivia Wilde’s Booksmart as Molly Davidson, the ambitious high school valedictorian who embarks on a pre-graduation party quest with her partner in crime Amy, played by Kaitlyn Dever), the Golden-Globe nominated actor is going solo in How to Build a Girl (available now on video on demand).
An adaptation of Caitlin Moran’s semi-autobiographical novel, the coming-of-age dramedy follows Johanna Morrigan, a spirited teen thrust into the world of rock-and-roll when she starts writing for a London-based punk zine. “It’s about a girl who wants to get out and leave her hometown, and she’s so full of hope and passion that she makes it happen for herself,” says Feldstein. “I think that’s a really hopeful message for right now.”
Ahead of the film’s release, we spoke to Feldstein, who’s been sheltering with her parents in Los Angeles (“I miss New York,” the 26-year-old says, “and my heart's breaking for the city I love so much”) about a few of her favorite things.
It’s simply the best movie ever. There isn’t a single time I’ve watched it—and the count is probably somewhere in the 60s or 70s—when I haven’t laughed until my stomach hurt. It’s too hard to even choose a favorite scene. I always find a new joke that tickles me beyond belief.
Specifically Grandma Minnie’s The Big, Brave Boo-Boo Balm. Yes, that’s its actual name. I have a thousand allergies—I tell people I have the skin of a newborn fresh out of the womb—so I go to a store that sells only hypoallergenic products and stock up on this lip balm. It’s absolutely for kids and babies. And me.
My 12 rings.
I got my first one at 13, and I’ve been adding to my collection ever since. Each is attached to a specific memory, milestone, or person: One is my high school class ring; my girlfriend gave me another (it has two Bs on it because her name starts with B, too); one was a wrap gift from the hair and makeup departments from How to Build A Girl; and many are from my mom. I’m up to 12 rings now, and I wear them every single day. I feel more naked without my rings than when I’m actually naked.
The Berkshires in Massachusetts.
A post shared by Beanie Feldstein (@beaniefeldstein) on Jul 4, 2017 at 5:09pm PDT
It's my favorite place on Earth. I went to summer camp near there, and when I was 10 years old, my family bought a house in the area. Now I go as often as I can. The nature is more stunning than anything you’ve ever seen, and even though it’s tucked away, it’s full of the most incredible culture. In that one spot you have the Williamstown Theatre Festival, Jacob’s Pillow, Tanglewood, and the Barrington Stage Company. It’s a magical place where you can escape any hustle and bustle, but still get a creative jolt.
I don’t like to be alone, so I start my day with music or a podcast. I’m a Harry Potter nerd, so I enjoy Harry Potter and the Sacred Text. It started when the hosts were at Harvard Divinity School and they read each chapter of the books like they would with the Torah, the Bible, or any other religious text. My all-time favorite, though, is Desert Island Discs, which I found out about when I was filming How to Build a Girl. It used to be a famous radio show in England and is now a podcast where the hosts ask notable people from all walks of life, from doctors to actors, to share the eight songs they would take with them to a desert island. It’s a great way to learn about new music—and the people who listen to it.
Audra McDonald's cover of "Edelweiss."
I first heard it when I was in college, and shortly thereafter, a friend was telling me about her happy song, Judy Garland and Barbra Streisand's "Happy Days Are Here Again/Get Happy" duet. When she asked me what mine was, I said, "I think it's this." The nostalgia and the magic in Audra's voice are so perfect. Whenever I'm having a rough day or feeling restless before bed, I turn it on and instantly feel calm.
I love having my nails done. My best friend and roommate, Melanie, was an art history major in college and she's had famous paintings by Monet and Degas put on her nails. It looks so good, but I'm someone who would just get sick of having that on for so long. I recently started getting a half-moon with a bit of sparkle--that's about as crazy as I go.
I think at this point I just am cake. I love it with my entire person. I'm allergic to dairy, though, so it has to be dairy-free or vegan. I'm a big fan of carrot cake, but my go-to is vanilla with rainbow sprinkles--it's harder to mess up. I usually buy it by the slice, but I'm not afraid to ask, "Can you move the knife over a bit? Make it a good one."
Do you think frosting loves me as much as I love frosting...?
— Beanie Feldstein (@BeanieFeldstein) September 9, 2019
Being with my friends.
I'm the opposite of a lone wolf, so any time spent with friends is an easy shortcut to joy. Recently, I've been doing trivia over Zoom. Each time, someone else comes up with the questions, so they all have different themes. One night we did Broadway trivia, and you had to come in costume. I was a character from the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Luckily, I did that show in college, so I have my number placard on my wall. It went pretty well.
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