Austin Crute (The Greatest Hits) launched his big-screen career with Booksmart, Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut. The film starred Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever as two brainiacs who embark on one wild night before graduation.

It’s one of the best coming-of-age films ever and a personal favorite of yours truly. The film premiered at the 2019 South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival in March. Five years ago today, Booksmart was released in theaters by United Artists Releasing.

“Wow, five years — it doesn’t feel that long,” Crute confessed to ClutchPoints.

The film was a modest hit — Booksmart grossed $25 million on a $6 million budget. For a non-IP film and a directorial debut, it wasn’t too shabby. Olivia Wilde would go on to direct Don’t Worry Darling while also continuing to land acting gigs such as Ghostbusters: Afterlife, DC League of Super-Pets, and Babylon.

What is Booksmart about?

Booksmart director Olivia Wilde in 2019.
Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY NETWORK.

Booksmart follows two students at the top of their class, Molly (Beanie Feldstein) and Amy (Kaitlyn Dever). They spent their entire high school careers chasing the Ivy League dream and accomplished it. However, they are crushed when they realize that their slacker classmates got into equally good schools.

In turn, they embark on a wild night out the night before graduation. Jessica Williams, Lisa Kudrow, Will Forte, Billie Lourd, Skyler Gisondo, Mason Gooding, and Molly Godron also star in the film. The likes of Noah Galvin, Eduardo Franco, Victoria Ruesga, and Nico Hiraga appear in the ensemble.

Final exams

Crute recalled the Booksmart premiere at SXSW, who would return to the festival years later. He actually was in production on the film while still in school.

“That was my first movie. That was my first experience at South by Southwest. There were a lot of firsts,” Crute recalled. “I was still graduating college — it was exam week while I was shooting it, I was a senior at NYU.”

He then praised the “greats” that made up the cast and crew for his film debut. It was the perfect storm that resulted in what Crute can only describe as a “masterclass.”

“For me to have such a big start in terms of it’s Olivia Wilde, so many greats. I mean, Noah Galvin, Diana Silvers, the list goes on and on of the people that were in the cast that are now good friends of mine,” he said. “It was a masterclass. Kaitlyn Dever, Beanie Feldstein. I mean, it was a masterclass just watching them do what they do. I am so grateful to have been a part [of it].”

Rolling off a plane and into Jason Sudeikis

Since Crute was in college during Booksmart’s production and premiere, he was running around a lot.

“I just finished doing a show in New York — I hopped on a plane at 4 a.m., came here [to Los Angeles], rolled my luggage in because I’m right off [of] the plane, and I’m sitting next to Jason Sudeikis, doing my first-ever read through,” he remembered. “I’m still in school and had to get my exam deadlines extended so that I could film it.”

During the production, Crute remembered “couch surfing.” Filming Booksmart, an indie film, did not have the amenities that a tentpole film would have.

A lasting impression

Clearly, Olivia Wilde had a big impact on Austin Crute. She gave him pointers during his time in Los Angeles for the film, and it was an almost instant connection that dates back to Booksmart’s auditions.

“Olivia Wilde is mother,” Crute then exclaimed. “She is just incredible — so humble and nice. She was giving me recommendations [of] where to go. She’s the one who introduced me to Jon and Vinny’s in LA, which [is] a huge Italian staple. But she introduced me to that in the audition room, just chatting me up, talking like we’ve been besties from the jump. So yeah, I love her.”

He also praised Katie Silberman, who co-wrote the script and produced the film.

Lasting memories

As for memories on the Booksmart set, Crute recalled the party bus the cast took to Austin, Texas, for the SXSW premiere.

“Oh my gosh, I remember being on the party bus on the way to South by Southwest because we went to Austin and we all stayed in this house together,” Crute said. “It was me, Eduardo Franco, Victoria Ruesga, Nico Hiraga, and Noah — Noah’s hilarious. And having that time in that house, we had barbecue catered there [that] was so good.”

Once the drinks came out, the Booksmart cast got sentimental.

“We were just doing shots of tequila or something on the balcony and me, Victoria, and Mason [Gooding] were all sitting — I don’t know if they remember this, but we were sitting on the balcony, and we were kind of just like, Wow, we need to remember this moment. We’re all going to be friends forever. We [have] gotta cherish this.

“It really felt like a high school moment,” he concluded.

Being close to his co-stars meant Crute didn’t feel out of place on the Booksmart red carpet. Even his heroes got nervous, which helped him feel better.

“I had watched these people on TV before, so me going into this experience was kind of like the wizard behind the curtain,” he said. “One of them told me that they were nervous to be on the carpet and I was like, What? You’re nervous? I thought that you were a vet[eran] to this. This is just so crazy — everybody [was] so humble.”

The whole Booksmart experience felt like summer camp to Crute.

“I felt like I was in a summer camp or something, which is funny because a lot of them are in Theater Camp, another movie [with Booksmart stars Molly Gordon and Galvin],” he added.

What happened to Alan after Booksmart?

If it was up to Crute, his Booksmart character, Alan, would go on to become a social media influencer. He also believes Alan is living his dream.

“Wow, I think that he is some kind of social media influencer in the theater scene,” he said. “He is absolutely living a Broadway dream, either as a choreographer or an actor. And honestly, I feel like he was gonna have a fashion moment — he’s gonna have his time, almost have a Billy Porter trajectory.

“In terms of fashion, that’s where I feel like he went after graduation. It’s giving ‘ranting to the camera about where Broadway should be after the pandemic,’ you know?” he added with a laugh.

One can only hope that someday, we will see Austin Crute reprise the role of Alan in a Booksmart spin-off.