Beanie Feldstein moving from supporting player to star with Broadway revival


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Dan Buffa, Special to the Jewish Light

I’ve been a fan of Beanie Feldstein since she broke my heart in “Lady Bird.”

She wasn’t the star (that was the young legend, Saoirse Ronan) of that film, but stole scenes without needing too much dialogue or attention, the loyal friend of the heroine who was quietly battling her own demons. Supporting players in movies have to steal scenes while not looking like they’re actually trying to, and Feldstein often does.

“Booksmart,” directed by the highly-talented Olivia Wilde, was the real launch of Feldstein, the sister of comic actor Jonah Hill, in a larger cinematic light phase. She was getting more screen time. In that school friend’s tale, it was Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever who shared starring rights atop the poster and exhibited a wonderful screen chemistry that led to awards and a 96% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Feldstein, born Elizabeth Greer and nicknamed “Beanie” by a caretaker when she was a kid, would ride that momentum in her first starring role in “How to Build a Girl.” This was where her talent really got unleashed, playing an outcast who reinvents herself as a hard-living, fast-talking music journalist named Dolly Wilde.

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While the supporting cast was stellar, this one hung on Feldstein’s shoulders. It wasn’t just an earnest and wholesome best friend role here with less to lose. In Coky Giedroyc’s film, she was free to create two different personalities in this film, bind them to one another in the process, and make us laugh at the absurdity of pop culture. The IFC movie came and went, but her work wasn’t unnoticed.

Deadline announced this week that Feldstein will star in the upcoming Broadway revival of “Funny Girl.” This is the first revival of the esteemed 1964 musical starring Barbra Streisand. Fanny Brice has a few things in common with Wilde, the journo-goddess, the girl Feldstein created a couple years ago. In the famous musical, Brice was a young aspiring singer from Brooklyn who got a little too much stardom when her career took off and she fell for a gambler. I don’t think anyone can rain on her parade right now, and that reach stretches beyond Broadway.

Broadway won’t be the only place Feldstein storms in 2021. She plays Monica Lewinsky in the new season of “American Crime Story” on FX, arriving later this year. You can also find her in the middle of a great cast for the upcoming film, ‘The Humans,” which details a holiday family get-together amid the end of the world where the mood quickly turns sour.

In just three years, Beanie Feldstein has gone from supporting player filling up the standard best friend with pathos and grace, to a force to be reckoned with on stage and every screen size. She’s all over the place, and for good reason. No longer “that one girl,” but more and more an established name in show business.