How Olivia Wilde Created a Fantasy Musical Scene for ‘Booksmart’

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How do you put together a dance scene with someone who hasn’t danced before? Very carefully.

The comedy “Booksmart” follows two soon-to-be high-school graduates, Molly and Amy (Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever), who have spent too much time studying and no time partying. They’re correcting that in one wild night before graduation. This scene has them arriving at a party they’ve been trying to find for much of the film.

Molly spots her school crush, Nick (Mason Gooding), and the scene transitions into a fantasy musical sequence showing Molly’s inner thoughts. In her narration, the director Olivia Wilde discusses using classic Hollywood musicals as inspiration, what it took to pull off this sequence in one shot, and how she and her choreographer, Denna Thomsen, got great work out of Gooding, who hadn’t danced before this.

Read the “Booksmart” review.

Read our Olivia Wilde profile.

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Mekado Murphy is a senior staff editor with a focus on movies coverage. He joined The Times in 2006. @mekadomurphy

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