Silberman: We all knew how to be authentic about female friendship. We didn’t want this to be “female Superbad,” with women just saying things men say. We wanted it to be kind. People think comedy can’t be nice or earnest because you’ll lose the humor, but we set a challenge for ourselves—we wanted to make it funny without there really being a bad guy.
Yeah, there’s a girl-on-girl revenge or clique v. clique dynamic that just doesn’t exist in this movie. That’s another hallmark of the high school movie Booksmart discards.
Dever: It asks the audience to maybe judge people a little less, and to treat each other with kindness and compassion. You never know—the popular kid might not be mean. The party girl might not really want to be a party girl. There’s always more to a person.
It feels like Booksmart is hitting at this moment where we are seeing, more than ever, female friends being outrageously supportive of each other onscreen. It fits nicely with Broad City, Insecure, PEN15, The Bold Type…
Feldstein: And Playing House [the USA series starring Lennon Parham and Jessica St. Clair]! That’s an obsession of mine.
Dever: A best friend relationship can be so intense, and reading this script and seeing that—it was so exciting for me, because I rarely get sent a comedy for young women. Now I’m hearing girls who have seen Booksmart say that it makes them feel very seen. I think people are craving stories like this.
Silberman: What I love about so many shows and movies like that is that real friends—like Abbi and Ilana in Broad City or Maya and Anna in PEN15—make them. It’s not a coincidence that those friendships feel so lived in and authentic.
How did you create that kind of real-friend vibe on set?
Feldstein: Kaitlyn and I lived together [before and during the shoot]. We had a two-bedroom rental in West Hollywood. We wanted to be at a point where we had our own jokes, our own rapport, our own snacks. By the time we were filming, we were like, “It’s time for her to have her iced tea!” “Oh, I know where she is, she must be in the bathroom!” We were so connected. I would have been devastated if I watched Booksmart and found out that me and Kaitlyn weren’t friends. So, the good news is: It’s a very real love.
These interviews have been edited and condensed for clarity.