One of my favorite memories with my best friend is the time we sat hand-in-hand in the dark in our college apartment and sobbed as we watched Sandra Oh's last episode of Grey's Anatomy. It was the very end of our junior year and we had packed everything up except for the TV; we knew we'd need it to watch one of our favorite characters say goodbye to her best friend. This moment is one of my favorite memories because it combines three of our shared favorite things: feeling our feelings, dedication to our favorite pop culture, and a celebration of female friendship. Five years later, I found myself recalling that memory as I sat at the premiere of Booksmart. I was crying at another beautiful depiction of friendship on screen, only this time my best friend was the one actually on screen herself. I sat down to talk to my best friend Beanie Feldstein about friendship on and off-screen, and just how important it is to her.
It's been a beautiful experience to watch the world meet the Beanie I know and love. She and I met in college and instantly bonded over show tunes, snacks, and countless heart-to-hearts. After we graduated, Beanie's acting career took off, and it's been fascinating to see how her projects have all hewed so closely to who she is: warm, effusive, and deeply devoted to the people she loves.
"I think that friendship is such a beautiful, foundational part of human beings," Beanie tells me in an interview for Elite Daily, "because it’s really the first formative relationship you have outside of the people that you’re given to in this life."
Ask anyone who knows Beanie and they'll tell you how important her friendships are to her. She loves Mindy Kaling's approach to friendship ("Best friend is a tier, not a person") and she holds people close to heart everywhere she goes, from high school to college to every set she's been on.
"I thrive the more people I love, [and] when more people that I love are around me," Beanie explains. As a textbook extravert, she loves to surround herself with her friends as much as possible.
It just so happens that many of Beanie's major projects reflect her strong belief in the value of friendships. She garnered a lot of attention playing Julie in Lady Bird ("The friendship between Lady Bird and Julie was just so deeply on the page," Beanie explains) and most recently, she starred in Booksmart as one half of another already-iconic duo. In Booksmart, Beanie plays Molly, a high school senior who teams up with her best friend Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) for one night of debauchery before they graduate.
A big part of the conflict of Booksmart comes from the tension between close friends as they approach a crossroads. Molly and Amy are close, but they're headed in different directions after they leave high school. Booksmart does an amazing job of conveying the nuance of emotions that are woven through the deepest of friendships.
"Booksmart is such a beautiful celebration of the best moments of friendship, but it’s also a beautiful celebration of how the best of friends can feel differently about things and can disagree," Beanie says.
Beanie and I found ourselves at that same kind of crossroads when we were graduating from college. Beanie was much more ready to leave for the real world, while I wasn't yet ready to say goodbye to our campus. We lived with two of our other best friends, and after college, "the four of us scattered to the winds," as Beanie put it. Perhaps the difference in our perspectives is best exemplified by the photo of us on our move-out day. "That photo is amazing. You're crying, and I’m, like, laughing like, 'This old thing, she’s gonna be okay,'" Beanie describes.
Beanie and I approached our graduation differently, but the tumult of saying goodbye only added to the fabric of our friendship. It's something that Booksmart explores with great care through Molly and Amy's relationship.
"Even the friendship between the two best of friends isn’t always, like, gal pal talk or getting along," Beanie says. "I feel like that is just true to every friendship you have. The difficult talks are often the most memorable and important. They propel into you a different place in your friendship really."
There's been a ripple effect for Beanie, with her real-life friendships inspiring her work and now her work is inspiring other friendships. High school graduates are recreating scenes from Booksmart, and Beanie's met countless young women who've said that they see themselves in her characters.
"I’m such a theatre fan, I’m such a TV fan, I’m such a film fan, that it’s so touching that specifically young women feel excited by something I’m a part of," Beanie says. "I was walking and these three young girls came up to me and they had braces and they were like, 'We love Booksmart!" And they were all holding hands. I always think about how much we loved Frances Ha. Like, you and I loved Frances Ha, and if we saw Greta [Gerwig] on the street, we would have been like, 'We love Frances Ha!'"
It just so happens that since the time since Beanie and I saw Frances Ha in theaters, she's worked directly with Gerwig on Lady Bird. But, Beanie is still as big a fan as ever. I asked Beanie to name some of her favorite pop culture friendships: "Annie and Lillian from Bridesmaids. All the friends of Friends, of course. Cory and Shawn from Boy Meets World. For sure Abbi and Ilana from Broad City. For sure Lorelai and Sookie, slash Rory and Paris, slash Rory and Lane. I’ll give it to just all the ladies of Gilmore Girls."
And of course, Beanie brought up the ladies of Grey's Anatomy: "Mer and Cristina. I mean, the OG."
That pair was an inspiration to Beanie and me years ago, and my heart swells watching Beanie bring that same passion for connection to a whole new generation of friends. In fact, I'm tearing up just thinking about it.