“Eighth Grade” director Bo Burnham and star Elsie Fisher were on hand at Variety’s screening of the coming-of-age film to discuss shooting the film and why it resonates.
“What really drew me to the first audition was, the first script was her opening monologue, and I’m like, ‘Oh my god, this is how I talk,” Elsie Fisher told Variety.
Burnham reflected on the moment he knew Fisher was right to play Kayla.
“Every other kid when they came in and they read the part, it felt like someone pretending to be shy. She felt like someone being shy and pretending to be confident, which is what the role is,” Burnham said. “Being shy isn’t cowering in a corner and not wanting to speak. Being shy is wanting to speak every moment and not being able to.”
The two discussed the importance of normalizing anxiety, one of the central themes of the film.
“I didn’t set out to make a movie about a young girl, I set out to make a movie about how I was feeling at the time that I was writing it,” Burnham said. “I was coming to terms with my own anxiety. I wanted to talk about what it felt like to be alive, and I wanted to talk about the internet.”
“It’s very special to see people my own age opening up about [social anxiety] and talking about it,” Fisher said.