Olivia Wilde has already made a name for herself as an actor and a producer, and she’s already directed a couple film shorts and music videos, but she’s now going to tackle her first bonafide feature film as a director. Wilde will direct the comedy BOOKSMART, which is set-up at Annapurna and Gloria Sanchez, with Detroit‘s Kaitlyn Dever and Lady Bird’s Beanie Feldstein starring.
Dever and Feldstein will play two best friends, academics, who on the eve of their high school graduation decide they didn’t have enough fun while in high school, so they try to fit four years of fun into one night.
From that premise, it certainly seems to have a few other things in common with Lady Bird besides Feldstein, it being Wilde’s directorial debut (sort of similar to Lady Bird‘s Gerwig, who had previously co-directed a feature), but also that it takes place in those precious last few days (or in this case, the last night) of high school.
The script for Booksmart was written by Emily Halpern and Sarah Haskins with revisions by Susanna Fogel and Katie Silberman. Producing the film is Annapurna’s Chelsea Barnard, David Distenfeld, and Megan Ellison along with Jessica Elbaum, Will Ferrell and Adam McKay for Gloria Sanchez, which is the female-focused production wing of Ferrell and McKay’s Gary Sanchez Productions.
Elbaum’s original concept for Gloria Sanchez was to create a production company that offers more opportunities to women, and there’s a lot of them involved with Wilde’s project, which should give her a nice support system to direct her first feature.
Repped by WME, Untitled and Ziffren Brittenham, Wilde hasn’t been seen as much on screen in recent years compared to the past, possibly because she was having kids with fiancé Jason Sudeikis, but she also spent much of 2016 doing the HBO show Vinyl. Previous credits include TRON: Legacy for Disney, The Lazarus Effect for Blumhouse, the indie Meadowland (which she also produced) as well as exec. producing last year’s Oscar-nominated short Body Team 12. Wilde’s latest film A Vigilante will premiere at SXSW next month, and she’s also in Dan Fogelman’s Life Itself, which sold to Amazon Studios before being pulled from its planned Sundance premiere.
Dever is with UTA and Felker Toczek, and she next appears in Lyn Shelton’s Outside In, which will also play SXSW next month before a theatrical release by the Orchard. She also has a prominent role in Jason Reitman’s Tully, in which she wrote and performed a song, and has Beautiful Boy with Steve Carell and Timothée Chalamet opening Oct. 12. Dever also had a prominent role in Kathryn Bigelow’s Detroit, which was produced and released by Annapurna, so she probably was an easy choice for the production company.
Last but definitely not least is Beanie Feldstein, who brought so much to Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird as Saoirse Ronan’s best friend following a role in the Universal comedy sequel Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising. Feldstein is repped by WME and Brillstein Entertainment.
This sounds like it could be a fun comedy project, and it will be interesting to see who Wilde casts around the two younger women as parents, teachers, etc, as that can have a great effect on a coming-of-age comedy succeeding. (See Lady Bird, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl and The Edge of Seventeen of great examples of how adult actors go a long way towards making a movie even as supporting roles. Hey, who knows, maybe Will Ferrell would take a smaller part to help the film get more attention?)
This project was initially reported by Variety.
Edward Douglas | East Coast Editor