Mason Gooding says his on-screen persona Nick in the new coming-of-age film Booksmart is nothing like his own high school experience despite being an athlete.
Gooding, the son of Academy Award-winner Cuba Gooding Jr., is forging his path. With appearances on HBO’s “Ballers” and ABC’s “The Good Doctor,” the young actor is off to the races.
So what is Booksmart? At the core, a tale of genius high school best friends Molly and Amy, and their plan to cram a night of partying in before graduation. With an eclectic mix of smart kid classmates surrounding them, the night goes off with a bang.
Rolling out sat down with Mason Gooding to discuss how his Booksmart persona Nick, the fun-loving sports star differs from his own. Gooding also explains how Booksmart explores the high school experience without relying on predictable, past formulas.
Nick is living his best life in high school. Were you having just as much fun in high school?
Not at all. Nick is a positive party animal. He loves having fun and inviting people to join in. That’s great for the people around him.
I was pretty far the opposite. I was a bit of a dork, but I took my sports very seriously. [I was] not the best student, but I tried to focus on very specific things such as football or theater or things I was really into. I also didn’t really take the time to relax or party. Nick most definitely found time to.
Despite the huge ensemble of characters, Nick your on-screen Persona in Booksmart owned his every moment. What was the key to making it all work?
The majority of the reason goes to Olivia Wilde and her ability to make a comfortable, loving and safe environment to have fun. What she does better than most is she understands the process of getting into character to give the best performance.
So, I think all of us sort of owe her a huge debt of gratitude for being able to see us all for the types of actors we are. Another aspect of that is we all love one another. Everyone on the set was a big fan of [one] another, and we all hung out off staff and in our downtime.
Nick isn’t the stereotypical jock that appears on-screen full of angst and attitude like past teenage movies. Do you think teenagers now are awakening to the fact that the athlete can be the smart person, too?
It’s funny because before we even sort of filming, I told Olivia one thing I love about the script is she depicts the stereotypical or archetypical characters that you see in every high school film with the duality of real life.
Lastly, if you could have a real-life experience depicted in the movie during your teen years, which one would it be?
Oh my goodness. It was probably be pulling up to my high school graduation and a flame decal Mustang car. That would have been something else.
Booksmart is in theaters now.