Bottoms is bloody good fun. In the high school sex comedy, which premiered at SXSW, two lesbian students — played by Rachel Sennott (The Idol) and Ayo Edebiri (The Bear) — are so eager to lose their virginity that they start an after-school fight club, all in the hopes of seducing cheerleaders. Due out Aug. 25 from Orion Pictures and MGM, the raucous movie is director Emma Seligman’s follow-up to her Independent Spirit Award-winning debut, Shiva Baby, in which Sennott (who co-wrote Bottoms) played a bisexual Jewish woman who attends a shiva where both her ex-girlfriend and current sugar daddy are present. Seligman, who uses she and they pronouns, spoke with THR about making the film, her own identity and her thoughts on authentic casting for LGBTQ roles.

How did Bottoms come together?

We were really lucky. Rachel and I had been writing this since 2017. After Shiva Baby got into SXSW, Alison Small at Brownstone Productions saw the movie, and she and [Brownstone founders] Elizabeth [Banks] and Max [Handelman], our producers, were excited to take it on and helped us develop it and try to get it made. And Alana Mayo had just been hired at Orion. She’s incredible. We pitched to her, and she just jumped on board.

What inspired you and Rachel to write it?

There’s just been such a void for both queer-themed teen stories that are actually horny and reflective of the flawed teenagers that I knew growing up. I really just wanted to see superficial, horny, messy teenage girls who happen to be queer.

Ayo Edebiri, Emma Seligman and Rachel Sennott on the set of Bottoms.

Ayo Edebiri, Emma Seligman and Rachel Sennott on the set of Bottoms.

Patti Perret/Orion Pictures

Growing up, were there any characters onscreen who you felt represented you?

Mostly, it was on TV. I think about bisexual characters on Grey’s Anatomy or the Mischa Barton and Olivia Wilde storyline at some point on The O.C.

How did Ayo Edebiri join the cast?

We all went to NYU together. I met Ayo at a party before I had even met Rachel. I was like, “If I ever make a high school movie, she would be perfect.” At least at the time, she was so awkward and silly and kind of nerdy but adorable. And then I met Rachel and I found out they were friends and had already done a bunch of sketches with each other.

What are your thoughts on authentic casting for LGBTQ roles?

It’s a really important conversation to be having, and it’s nuanced. But I find it tricky in that it’s illegal in almost any other context to ask your employees what their sexuality is. It’s lovely when you know someone is queer publicly and then you cast them in a queer movie; it’s wonderful that their fans get to see them in that role. Kristen Stewart playing queer characters means a lot to a lot of people. At the same time, it’s unfair to assume that someone is straight when they haven’t publicly or privately told you what their sexuality is. We speak so much about coming out as being a private journey and everyone should feel comfortable taking their time, but then we are putting pressure on public-facing people to give us an answer.

The cast also includes Kaia Gerber and Havana Rose Liu and (second and third from right), who play cheerleaders.

The cast also includes Kaia Gerber and Havana Rose Liu and (second and third from right), who play cheerleaders.

Patti Perret/Orion Pictures

How did you put together the fight scenes?

My DP [Maria Rusche] and I choreographed all the fights because we didn’t have a fight choreographer. We kept watching Kick-Ass, and we showed each other a lot of fight references.

You previously said you were bisexual.

I no longer identify as bi. Just gay these days. Yeah, it’s weird how that happens. I started writing [Bottoms] six years ago, but life is funny that way sometimes.

Interview edited for length and clarity.

This story first appeared in the June 14 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.


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