Beanie Feldstein understands how vital a nickname might be. Born Elizabeth Feldstein, her British nanny nicknamed her “Elizabeanie,” which rapidly shortened to “Beanie” and caught.
“‘Elizabeth’ doesn’t really feel associated to me in any respect,” the 24-year-old actor stated in a New York espresso store as she performed along with her silver cursive “Beanie” necklace. “I don’t know if I ended up becoming the identify or the identify ended up becoming me. However I adore it.”
It’s nearly too serendipitous that the 24-year-old actor now finds herself the breakout actor in a film titled after a nickname: Girl Chook. Greta Gerwig’s new movie is already poised to soar this awards season. After premiering on the Telluride Movie Competition to rave critiques, the film at present holds a 100% ranking on RottenTomatoes, and has continued to garner main vital acclaim.
On the heart of this 12 months’s indie darling is Christine “Girl Chook” McPherson (performed by Saoirse Ronan), an outspoken, pink-haired highschool senior from Sacramento. She, like Feldstein, prefers to go by her self-styled moniker. Feldstein performs Julie Steffans, Girl Chook’s nicknameless finest buddy.
Julie’s every part Girl Chook isn’t: painfully shy, a devoted scholar, and endlessly loyal. The women’ odd-couple dynamic lends the film a few of its most hilarious and heart-wrenching scenes: consuming unconsecrated Communion wafers and speaking about masturbating within the bathtub; getting excessive collectively on Thanksgiving; cry-belting “Crash” by the Dave Matthews Band from their reclined automobile seats. They even go to promenade collectively and pose for tacky Everlasting Flame ‘03 photographs.
Julie is a candy second fiddle, a relaxing counterpart to Girl Chook’s extroversion, and an enormous departure from the characters Feldstein has largely performed till now: wild get together women — she had a one-line function in Orange is the New Black as somebody who roofies her personal drink, and performed one of many three central sorority sisters in 2016’s raunchy comedy Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising — who don’t are inclined to mirror her personal persona.
“It’s so humorous to me after I get to play these loopy women!” Feldstein stated. “I’m such a goody-goody. I’m right here 15 minutes early, I’ve my schedule, I’ve my planner. With Julie, after I learn ‘candy, chubby theater lady,’ I used to be like, Whaaat?”
The function of Julie provided Feldstein a extra relatable character interpretation. When she first learn Gerwig’s script, she felt “extra emotionally related” to Julie than she ever needed to an on-page character earlier than.
“I’d by no means felt something like that earlier than,” she stated. “I used to be like, ‘If I don’t get this, I shall be devastated.’”
In reality her attachment was so rapid and uncharacteristically intense that she obtained a uncommon case of pre-audition jitters. Often, Feldstein takes a really grounded, assured strategy to auditioning.
“I’ve this saying: They both need The Bean or they don’t need The Bean,” she laughed. “I simply am my very own factor. It really works or it doesn’t work. So I don’t get that nervous as a result of it’s both gonna be me or it’s not gonna be me.”
However her audition for Girl Chook was completely different; she was so nervous that she even remained unusually tight-lipped. Often a self-described “Chatty Cathy,” Feldstein didn’t inform anybody she was up for the function, not even her mother. She auditioned reverse Gerwig herself in New York, and tried to maintain her aim so simple as attainable: “Hear and reply actually to what she’s providing you with.” When she discovered she obtained the function, she FaceTimed her mother, sobbing, and needed to clarify every part from the start.
“I’m not [Julie], however I know her,” Feldstein stated. “On the core, we share an analogous sensibility: deep, deep love for pals, loyalty, and a real love for theater.”
Feldstein, who at present lives in New York along with her finest buddy from center faculty, moved again into her mother and father’ home in Los Angeles to movie Girl Chook. She has two older brothers, however they’ve been out of the household residence for a very long time — Jordan is 16 years her senior, and actor Jonah Hill is 10 years older. Between sleeping in her childhood bed room once more and infrequently placing on a faculty uniform to play Julie, Feldstein instantly felt like she was again at Harvard-Westlake, the personal faculty in California she attended for center and highschool.
However for all her similarities to Julie, Feldstein had a really completely different highschool expertise. Whereas Julie excels academically and discovers theater close to the top of faculty, Feldstein struggled to search out agency tutorial footing till her junior 12 months, and is a seasoned thespian who’s been singing since age 5. She’s at present starring in Hey, Dolly! on Broadway reverse Bette Midler, a gig producer Scott Rudin (who served as producer on each Girl Chook and Hey, Dolly!) recommended she audition for.
That excessive discrepancy in efficiency expertise ranges offered a problem for Feldstein, particularly throughout one among Girl Chook’s most charming scenes: the auditions for the college manufacturing of Stephen Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Alongside. Everybody else, together with Girl Chook, belts out Sondheim tunes to flowery piano accompaniment. Julie sings a hymn she is aware of by coronary heart, completely a cappella. Her palms are shoved in her pockets and he or she nervously sways in her white tennis footwear. Her voice rings out pleasantly skinny and mushy, and sounds wholly untrained.
“I’ve to inform you, I used to be so nervous for that scene,” Feldstein sighed. “Julie wouldn’t have had skilled coaching. I’ve had years of voice classes and expertise, so I wished to verify the sound of her voice was proper. I attempted to sweeten up my tone as a lot as attainable. I wished to verify it was Julie singing, not me singing.”
Highschool theater additionally ties strongly into Feldstein’s group of pals. She has some shut feminine pals from her time finding out sociology at Wesleyan School — she has a gold ring with 4 inset stones and “The Women” inscribed on the within, a commencement current she and her three finest collegiate pals obtained from their mother and father. However her closest bonds had been cast throughout Westlake musical theater productions. Her finest pals nonetheless embrace a lot of the solid of their faculty’s rendition of Into the Woods (together with her highschool promenade date, Broadway’s Expensive Evan Hansen star and Tony Award–winner Ben Platt).
“I really feel extraordinarily fortunate in that I’ve a really tight-knit group of pals. I really feel like I’ve so many variations of that Girl Chook/Julie relationship,” she stated. “However our highschool group is admittedly particular.”
Feldstein additionally gained a brand new friendship via filming Girl Chook: lead actor Saoirse Ronan. The 2 actors walked into the primary day of rehearsal carrying the identical colour nail polish on their fingernails (purple) and toenails (gentle blue). With Gerwig’s blessing, they determined to maintain the identical polish for all of filming, and spent their downtime goofing off and quoting Bridesmaids collectively.
“I believe the bond we created as Girl Chook and Julie stemmed from our personal love of one another,” she laughed. “She makes everybody round her higher. We simply fell in love, there’s no different solution to put it. I’m in love along with her. She’s simply one of the best.”
Now, Feldstein isn’t actually positive what’s subsequent. She’s heard all of the awards season buzz, and he or she really believes it’s deserved, however she hasn’t totally absorbed any of it but. She will be able to nonetheless hardly consider she landed the function.
“That is as soon as in a lifetime. It is a very particular factor. I can’t consider I’m right here,” she stated, grinning extensively. “I might by no means in one million years have predicted this for myself.”