“I wanted my first film to be an homage to the films that made me want to be in this business,” reveals “Booksmart” director Olivia Wilde. As a kid, she would watch John Hughes‘s ’80s teen comedies (“Sixteen Candles,” “The Breakfast Club,” “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”) “over and over and over” again. So when she got this script about two A students (Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein) who decide to cut loose the day before high school graduation, it was a perfect match. Watch our exclusive video interview with Wilde above.
Although it was Hughes’s films — plus Amy Heckerling‘s “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” — that first inspired Wilde to become an actor, she didn’t want “Booksmart” to simply recreate them. The script “came to me as a concept that was looking for a reinvention,” she explains. “I loved the idea of telling a story about two smart women who loved each other deeply, who respected each other, and who weren’t trying to assimilate, but had to go on this journey to understand themselves.” She also felt strongly that “this generation deserved a story that reflected how kick-ass they are.”
Making the jump behind the camera was “frightening enough to give me the adrenaline and the energy to get it done.” But having previously helmed some music videos and short films, the actress realized she was “happiest on set as a director,” so making the leap to features was inevitable. “While it was intimidating, I just had so much fun, and I really felt lucky to be able to do it.”
Wilde’s efforts paid off with a Gotham Award nomination for Best Breakthrough Director, and it could also land her in the Directors Guild Awards race for Best First-Time Director — not to mention the Oscar race. As an actress, she previously competed at the SAG Awards as a member of the ensemble cast of “House” in 2009. Later this fall she’ll also be seen on movie screens in Clint Eastwood‘s upcoming “Richard Jewell.” And she’s already working on her next directorial effort, a psychological thriller called “Don’t Worry, Darling” in which she’ll also star.
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