After roles in comedies such as Life of the Party, You People, and Booksmart, Gordon helms the improvised mockumentary
How did Molly Gordon get her start?
Molly Gordon has spent a lot of time with Ben Platt. At age 3, she enrolled in the same Los Angeles community theater program as the future Dear Evan Hansen star (who was 5). “We did every age-inappropriate show under the sun,” she recalls, including Damn Yankees and Chicago. “I would always play the scorned woman. I’m not really sure I understood what was going on, but I had fun.” By the time she was 10, she had appeared in 75 shows and even weathered some heartbreak. “I was in love with Ben,” she admits. “He came out to me, but I didn’t understand what that meant. I kind of feel like our dynamic is pretty similar now—he still doesn’t want to be with me romantically.”
Which projects has she worked on?
Gordon’s childhood love of theater led her to New York, where she eventually starred in the Off-Broadway musical Alice By Heart. At the same time, she was breaking into film, winning roles in comedies such as Life of the Party, You People, and Booksmart. On the set of the latter, she witnessed star Olivia Wilde taking the director’s chair for the first time—“Working on Booksmart and watching Olivia make that shift was very inspiring to me,” she says—and producer Jessica Elbaum saw similar potential in Gordon. “Jessica could sense that I had the directing and writing itch and pushed me to explore that,” Gordon remembers. “That was definitely a life-changing moment.”
How did Theater Camp come about?
Theater Camp is 27-year-old Gordon’s screenwriting and directorial debut. (She also stars alongside her girlhood crush, Platt.) An expansion of a short film made with Platt and friends Noah Galvin and Nick Lieberman, the heavily improvised mockumentary follows the struggling Upstate New York theater camp AdirondACTS. (Get it?) The shoot flew by in 19 “insane” days, and the movie features a stellar cast of young actors not much older than Gordon and Platt were when they first met. “It was extremely full circle,” Gordon says. “The kids’ performances are the thing I’m most proud of in the film; they were just amazing.”
This summer, Gordon can also be seen in the second season of the acclaimed FX restaurant drama The Bear, opposite Jeremy Allen White’s chef protagonist, Carmy Berzatto. The role gave her the opportunity to reunite with another of her Theater Camp costars, Ayo Edebiri. “I felt so grateful to be on the show, because I’m such a big fan of it, and working with Ayo and everyone was such a dream,” Gordon says. As a bonus, she adds, it was a bit of a relief to be able to focus solely on acting after pulling triple duty her last time out. “It was like, OK, I can go home after my scene,” she says with a laugh. “I don’t need to stay and figure out the next day’s schedule!”