For “Unbelievable’s” Kaitlyn Dever, the only appropriate way to celebrate a first-time Golden Globe nomination is with a hearty breakfast. First up: A stack of pancakes, whipped up by her dad, came shortly after the big news on Monday morning. And while fielding calls from press later in the morning, she was driving to pick up some breakfast burritos.
In short, she had her priorities in order.
“I’ve been overwhelmed with emotion,” Dever, 22, told the L.A. Times. “There’s been a lot of sweating. And crying.”
Dever was in Los Angeles watching the nominations announcement with her parents — she lives in their guest house — when she learned her performance as a teenage rape survivor in Netflix’s critically acclaimed drama had earned her a nomination for actress in a limited series or motion picture made for television. (The series is up for four Golden Globes, including best miniseries or television film.) But Dever didn’t even hear Tim Allen — her TV dad from “Last Man Standing” — read her name because of a delayed connection. But the texts were pinging. And then her “Booksmart” costar and fellow first-time nominee Beanie Feldstein called, “screaming at me.”
“I was just shocked,” she says.
What was Beanie screaming at you?
It was really early for me, and she was still in bed. It was the best phone call.
2019 was a big year for you. You starred in the critically acclaimed “Booksmart” and stunned audiences with your performance in “Unbelievable.” What did you learn about yourself and what you’re capable of through those experiences?
So much. With “Booksmart,” it was my first-ever leading role. Me and Beanie, both. Being the lead of a movie is a very different energy. The way you act and treat people really sets the tone for how the whole movie goes. That was my first time doing that, and I learned that I could do it. And I learned I only ever want to work with good people, nice people. With “Unbelievable,” I learned a lot about myself. But I also learned a lot about trauma. I put a lot of pressure on myself to get it right. And it felt very worth it. But I realized meditation and being present was important.
How was it stepping into the emotional mindset of Marie? There are so many competing and powerful emotions that you have to tap into.
My heart immediately broke when I read the story. It’s something that seems just unreal. It’s an incredibly shocking story. Because the producers put their faith in me from the very beginning and trusted me to play her, I felt I had no other choice but to give it everything that I had. And I did. I kind of stopped and thought about what I really wanted to achieve. And I just wanted to make sure that I was doing the best that I could for Marie. Because we were doing this for her. I kind of just had to forget about my feelings for a second. If I had a headache from crying on set, it doesn’t even touch the way she felt or will feel for the rest of her life. She’s seen the show. And she says that it gave her a lot of closure. She said it was perfect, which is so gratifying, and I feel honored to have told her story.
Were you surprised by the response to the series? It really seemed like word-of-mouth propelled it. What did that tell you?
It’s amazing that we get to tell this kind of story on a platform like Netflix. I think this kind of story deserves to be yelled from the mountaintops. Everyone should know about it. ... You can’t go into anything with expectations. This could have been something that never got seen. I loved this project so much. It’s not surprising to me that it affected people.
It was interesting to see the conversations that were had on Twitter, particularly between women — going deeper into this idea of feeling powerless or that their voice isn’t being heard.
It was a great example of the kind of room there is for that kind of woman in the world. It’s getting a lot better for women. I have seen a lot of change. But there’s still a great amount of work to be done. I think what’s great is that it shows the other side of it — where the work needs to be. The systems that need to do better. It’s about believing women from the very beginning so they don’t feel like they aren’t being heard. I think “Unbelievable,” in being made and being seen by people, will only help continue that conversation and better it.
Every scene felt so vital and important. How was that to play?
It’s kind of an intense thing to step into. You look at the schedule for the entire show, and it’s a four-month shoot. It’s daunting. But literally every single scene to me — even the most traumatic scene, even the moments when Marie really was trying to be happy and trying to laugh a little — those were also extremely important to me. I treated it all very equally.
And you didn’t get to spend much time working with [costars and fellow nominees] Toni Collette and Merritt Wever because the storylines were a bit separated.
It blows my mind that I was chosen to act alongside them. That’s insane to me. Now that all three of us are nominated — I’m still processing that. I’ve learned so much from them, even while doing press and doing interviews and getting to know them that way. Because we really didn’t get to know each other much when we were filming. We were passing by each other for very brief moments.
Can we talk about how Beanie is like the Kevin Bacon of this year’s Globes? She’s the one uniting all the younger nominees like [her “Lady Bird” costar] Saoirse Ronan and [longtime friend] Ben Platt.
I know, I know! We’re all holding hands with Beanie Feldstein. She is the best.
How does it feel to be going through this experience with her?
It’s been unlike anything I’ve ever experienced in my life. I’ve had the most exciting year. And half of it has been with Beanie Feldstein, between flying on planes together and staying in hotel rooms together and talking about “Booksmart.” It’s been such a joy to be able to share that experience with her and I wouldn’t have wanted to do it with anyone else. We were actually talking about picking out our outfits. Because we FaceTimed once early in the morning and then we FaceTimed again a couple of hours later. We were like, “What are we going to wear?’ We have to take our moms!”
Will you be doing the dance on the red carpet?
Yeah, we gotta.