Arts & Entertainment

Beanie Feldstein Discusses Her Breakout Role in “Lady Bird”

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For Beanie Feldstein, life in the limelight won’t be fading away anytime soon.

Thanks to her outstanding performance in Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut, “Lady Bird,” Feldstein has become one of the industry’s favorite movie starlets. The 24-year-old actress began her televised acting career in 2002 on an episode of “My Wife and Kids,” and since then, she has appeared on several other shows, including “Orange is the New Black.” Feldstein made her big screen debut in the 2016 comedy film, “Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising,” in which she starred alongside Zac Efron (“High School Musical”) and Chloë Grace Moretz (“The 5th Wave,” “If I Stay”).  

In “Lady Bird,” Feldstein taps into her love for the stage to portray the kindhearted, theater-loving Julie Steffans, who helps her best friend, Lady Bird (Saoirse Ronan), navigate the often-tumultuous teenage years. While the film depicts the friendship between the two best friends, it also illustrates a couple of tedious first romances, as well as the strained yet loving relationship between Lady Bird and her mother, Marion (Laurie Metcalf). With a mixture of emotional authenticity and humor, “Lady Bird” delves deep into the complications and joys associated with love in all of its forms.

Feldstein recently spoke with The PHOENIX about her theatrical career, her friendship with her brother, Jonah Hill (“Superbad,” The Wolf of Wall Street”), and her love for “Lady Bird” and its talented cast.

The actress currently stars as Minnie Fay in “Hello, Dolly!” at the Shubert Theatre on Broadway, in which she performs alongside Bette Midler (“Beaches,” “Hocus Pocus”). For Feldstein, landing such a coveted spot on the stage meant fulfilling a lifelong dream.

“My whole life, I grew up knowing I wanted to do theater, and that was something so important to me and was … very fundamental to who I was as a person,” Feldstein said. “But I have had just the most joyous, special, enlightening time these past three years discovering my love for the camera.”

As the sibling of a movie star, Feldstein was acquainted with life on film sets before she began starring in television shows and films. While she and Hill occasionally give each other advice on their professions, she said they mostly like to spend time together and have “heart-to-heart” talks as close-knit siblings.

“We really respect each other … we just really think the other person walks on water,” Feldstein said. “We’re brother and sister and we’re best friends.”

Reflecting on her experience starring in “Lady Bird,” Feldstein expressed gratitude for her involvement in the film and its influence on her life.

“’Lady Bird’ feels very important in sort of the timeline of my life. I sort of think of my life as pre-‘Lady Bird’ and post-‘Lady Bird’ because it changed so many things for me personally,” Feldstein said. “I gained all of these incredible people in my life like Greta and Saoirse, and it led to my experience in ‘Hello, Dolly!’”

Feldstein said the authenticity of her onscreen friendship with Ronan’s character is rooted in real life. Feldstein recounted the first time she met her co-star and described the friendship that instantly formed between them.   

“Anyone who meets Saoirse would just be instantly in love with her. She is just pure light. She is so charming and very warm,” Feldstein said. “We clicked instantly. The first time we met was at Greta’s apartment. She had a few of us over … and when I met her she just … jumped into my arms and was like ‘I’m so excited to meet you!’ And as we got to know each other more, we just really became close friends.”

Merie WallaceBeanie Feldstein (right) stars alongside Saoirse Ronan (left) in “Lady Bird.” Merie Wallace

Describing Gerwig as conveying a “beautiful, quiet confidence about her,” Feldstein was excited to share her love for the director’s previous writing and acting work. But Feldstein said it was Gerwig’s “beautifully written” script that drew her to “Lady Bird.”

For Feldstein, starring in “Lady Bird” marked a turning point in her acting career. But rather than dwell upon the ways in which the film has helped her fulfill her acting dreams, Feldstein was more excited to share the pride she feels in bringing Gerwig’s beautiful story to life.

“I just feel incredibly lucky to be a part of bringing this film to the world. Greta has created something that is … human, vivacious and heartfelt,” Feldstein said. “I’m so grateful, I’m so honored to be a part of it.”

Since its release, “Lady Bird” has garnered widespread praise from critics and audience members alike. The film has received Golden Globe nominations for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy and Best Screenplay, while Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf have earned nominations for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress. It’s no surprise the film is predicted to earn a few Oscar nominations as well. In the meantime, “Lady Bird” fans can look forward to hopefully seeing Feldstein and her co-stars on the Golden Globes’ red carpet next month.

“Lady Bird” is now playing in theaters nationwide.

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