In the first moments of Booksmart, a familiar, soothing voice provides both you and Beanie Feldstein’s Molly with some inspirational speaking: “Good morning, winner,” you hear through an audio recording Molly’s listening to as she meditates, “take a deep breath, good, you’re ready to dominate this day.” It might take you a second to place the voice, in the moment, but yes, Booksmart director Olivia Wilde is happy to confirm that it is indeed Maya Rudolph.
“It’s our favorite Easter egg in the movie,” Wilde told Vulture, adding that she’d reached out to Rudolph specifically because of the way her work paved the way for Booksmart’s approach to outrageous, female-friendship-driven comedy. “In so many ways, we hope that Booksmart is a spiritual sequel to Bridesmaids. We were so inspired by what they created in terms of an authentic friendship between women that rang true for people of all ages, and I really loved the opportunity to bow to them right off the bat, and say thank you. Because of what you guys created, we can make this movie.”
Wilde had previously worked with Rudolph when she directed a live reading of Hannah and Her Sisters in 2016. Ahead of Wilde’s feature directorial debut, Wilde reached out to the SNL alum to offer her a chance to cameo in Booksmart after testing out the movie’s opening with a recording of her own voice. “I said, ‘Listen, nothing would be cooler than having you do this,’” Wilde said, adding that she explained the idea of having Molly listening to an over-the-top motivational speaker, and Rudolph immediately understood what she needed to do. “She recorded it on her iPhone and sent it, and that’s what you hear,” Wilde said. “That’s an iPhone recording.”
On the Friday morning of Booksmart’s opening weekend, Wilde still wasn’t sure if Rudolph had seen the movie yet. “Maya’s got four kids and a huge career, and I never want to assume that [she] has a free second to do anything,” Wilde said. “But I really hope that she gets to see it soon because, in so many ways, it’s dedicated to her.”