Next Big Thing: Molly Gordon in directorial debut of 'Theatre Camp' and reunion with Ayo Edibiri in 'The Bear'

Next Big Thing: Molly Gordon in directorial debut of ‘Theatre Camp’ and reunion with Ayo Edibiri in ‘The Bear’

This interview was conducted before SAG-AFTRA authorized a strike on July 13th.

In 2019, Molly Gordon worked for three days frames, the Hulu show about a man exploring his faith in New York City, and it changed her life. She was 23, in the nascent stages of a career she’d dreamed of since childhood. That year, she had roles in Olivia Wilde Booksmart and by Gene Stupnitsky Good guysbut her time on set with creator Ramy Youssef and executive producer Chris Storer was what she describes as a creative “game changer.”

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This summer, she marked another professional milestone with the July 14 release of Theatrical camp, his writing-directing debut, which he worked on for years with longtime friends Ben Platt, Noah Galvin and Nick Lieberman. Gordon also stars in the mockumentary-style comedy about an eccentric group of artists who work to save their children’s summer camp from financial ruin. He is also starring in the just released second season of The bear (created by Storer) as the love interest alongside Jeremy Allen White. At one point, he was flying back and forth over the show’s Chicago set as he frantically edited Theatrical camp to meet deadlines for the Sundance Film Festival submission, a sacrifice she was more than willing to make. “I was going to play a napkin on that show,” she says on Zoom from his kitchen in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles.

Gordon grew up in Los Angeles, the only child of two working filmmakers: His father, Bryan Gordon, directed episodes of comedies such as Party down AND Curb your enthusiasmwhile his mother, Jessie Nelson, is best known for directing Corrina, Corrina AND I am Sam. They have been successful but never too far from commitment. She was a movie fan from the beginning (“I saw Anchorman and thought, ‘This is all I want to do.’”) and immediately moved to New York after high school, where she briefly attended New York University before dropping out to wait tables at Balthazar and take improvisation.

Gordon describes it as a lonely existence for an 18-year-old, but her upbringing has given her a deep understanding of the specific ways the entertainment industry tests the emotional strength of anyone who dares to enter. “I have this awareness of how difficult it is to make a film, or that you can be a lead in a film and not find another job for years,” she says. “It looks like this secret that I’ve been let in on, but not everyone is.”

Gordon with Ben Platt in Theater Camp.

Gordon with Ben Platt inside Theatrical camp.

Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures

Theatrical field it started out as a short film that the four friends worked on during times of unemployment, and spent a few years attempting a television format. They filmed in the Adirondacks for 19 days. “We made that movie with, like, a Band-Aid,” she jokes, noting that Searchlight Pictures (which bought the film from Sundance) offered the necessary funding for test screenings and additional edits.

The film, which Gordon describes as “a little brighter” than its original form, is inspired by Christopher Guest and Robert Altman, collaborative filmmakers whom she and her partners admire. “Filmmaking is a team sport, and if you don’t want to collaborate, you should probably just be a painter,” she says. The four collaborators have written parts for comedians they love to work with: Patti Harrison, Jimmy Tatro and Ayo Edebiri (whom Gordon knows through Child Shiva director Emma Seligman and star Rachel Sennott; Edebiri, Seligman, and Sennott all went to NYU as well.)

When Gordon and Edebiri reunited in Chicago for The bear’In season two, they were joined by Youssef, who directed one episode. That all these people keep coming together is something Gordon sees as an affirmation. “Sometimes on this crazy creative journey, through this industry that can be so disgusting at times, you meet amazing people. I feel very fortunate to be reunited with the good ones.”

A version of this story first appeared in the July 14 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to register now.