Exit Interview: Skyler Gisondo, 'Booksmart' and 'Righteous Gemstones' Breakout, on His Massive 2019 (2024)

Here’s a game Wilde liked to play while making Booksmart: What’s our dream movie for every actor in the film? For Gisondo, it was easy: a Back to the Future remake. “He has an ability to be a very specific character who is also universally relatable, he’s kind of an unlikely hero, and he's got an energy that is infectious but also vulnerable.” (Funny enough, Danny McBride separately compared Gisondo to Michael J. Fox: “It's crazy that there hasn't been anyone who's built that wholesome, honest, fun mix of comedy and drama since.”) Another movie that came to mind for Wilde was Ferris Bueller's Day Off: “There’s a lovability, and you want to go on an adventure with him.”

It’s true—even if the adventure never takes you out of the Financial District. As we look for somewhere to eat, Gisondo takes in the bustling city, and has a change of heart. “I take back what I said. New York is cool, man,” he says. “I like it. I'm literally the dude—my sister gets so mad—I’d come and visit her, and she'd be like, 'Where do you want to go?' I'm like, ‘Times Square is cool.’”

His sister would also get mad because during Skyler’s brief stint living here he would “always” eat at a certain fast-casual Mexican chain—and by “always,” think “20 days in a row” always. Gisondo still very much enjoys this chain, and, in an act of kismet, we practically stumble into it. When we get to the register, I try to pay and Gisondo stops me. He hands the cashier a special card. Conspiratorially, “Dude, I’ll explain.”

At a secluded table, Gisondo leans in. “It's the greatest thing that's ever happened to me,” he says as though he’s describing committing the perfect crime. “It’s kind of secret. I don’t think they like people talking about it, but it's called a Celebrity Card. And it's basically unlimited free [redacted restaurant].” His voice rises. “I mean, pretty sick?”

Pretty sick, indeed! … Or so it seems, until I take a bite and remember that it’s [redacted restaurant]. The food’s, you know, fine. Certainly not the greatest perk a celebrity can possibly attain, which is what Gisondo’s excitement would lead you to believe. But this is what he does. When you’re with him, malls are spaceships and fast-casual chains are gourmet restaurants.It’s effortless. He’s a naturally good hang. That’s the distillation of what he brings to the screen, no matter whether it’s a not-so-great movie like Vacation or a very good one like Booksmart.

Skyler Gisondo and Danny McBride in The Righteous GemstonesRyan Green / Courtesy of HBO

As we eat, Gisondo elaborates on the type of career he wants to have. “I want to make people laugh, but I also want to do things that have a serious impact on people—that affect the way they think about something or help them in some way.” He wants to bounce seamlessly between drama and comedy, like a Jason Bateman or Steve Carrell. And he wants to push himself.

It’s difficult, though. Recently, when his girlfriend was reading lines with him for a new part, she noticed he was speaking in the same rhythm he used for Jared in Booksmart. It sent him into a spiral. “I was doing this thing that had worked, that I had been rewarded for doing,” he says. “And now I'm trying to remain cognizant of how it's easy to do the thing that you did, cause you did it. But you've got to figure out a new thing. You’ve got to reinvent yourself and do something you didn't do before.” He’s hungry, but he hardly touches his food. The same old thing just isn’t that appetizing.

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Exit Interview: Skyler Gisondo, 'Booksmart' and 'Righteous Gemstones' Breakout, on His Massive 2019 (2024)
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