Netflix’s new comedy Senior Year casts star and producer Rebel Wilson as a 37-year-old woman who wakes from a 20-year coma only to head straight back to high school in an attempt to capture the prom queen crown that eluded her back in the day due to a cheer stunt tragedy. The do-over delivers heart, laughs and a buzzy dance break to Britney Spears’ pop hit “(You Drive Me) Crazy.” But it was the do-over part that got the cast talking on Tuesday night ahead of a special screening at West Hollywood’s London hotel. The Hollywood Reporter asked Wilson and all the actors in the Alex Hardcastle-directed film the same question: If you could go back to high school, what would you do differently?
Rebel Wilson: “I would go back and try to have way better fashion sense. I learned about fashion when I became an actress in Hollywood, and that was only after being here a few years, thanks to my amazing stylist Elizabeth Stewart. Like, tonight I’m wearing custom Jason Wu, but back in high school, I wore men’s jeans and had the worst haircut ever. I see photos from that time, and I look so feral. I wish I could go back with the ability to look like I do now. But I went to an all-girls school, so it didn’t really matter.”
Chris Parnell: “I wish I’d had a lot more confidence where girls are concerned. I could’ve done better if I weren’t such a dork and so insecure. I had a girlfriend, sort of, but there were a few girls that were interested that I just wasn’t smart enough or cool enough to take advantage of the situation. I would redo that if I could, but mostly school was great. We had a great theater department and TV department, and I was super involved with all of that and loved it. I’m sure everybody thinks this, but we put on amazing productions. Ours really were the best, honestly.”
Zoë Chao: “High school was painful, just so supremely uncomfortable, but it could’ve been way worse. I went to high school in Rhode Island, a great lovely school and my mom taught there and was my teacher. I loved that, but everything else was so difficult — the hormones, the yearning, everything. I wanted boobs and money and power, but I was only 16. Then I found out I didn’t want any of that. Though I really did want these orange parachute pants from Express so frickin’ badly. My mom would not get them for me and, you know what, props to her. She really stood her ground on so many things. I wouldn’t go back for anything, but if I did, I would try to not stress out as much, I would pull fewer all-nighters and I would eat healthier food.”
Brandon Scott Jones: “If I could go back, I would take the lessons that I learned from the kids that I got a chance to work with on this movie. They mean a lot to me [pauses as he gets teary and emotional], and I would want to be more like them. They are so confident, and they really celebrate each other. They are so happy to perform for each other and love each other in ways that I don’t believe were available to me back then. I was a mess in high school. I had more friends on the staff of the school than I did in my class because I was a queer kid, and I loved talking to faculty and adults. They were fun, and I always wanted to know about their dinner parties. The sad part is that I was also a teenage Scott Rudin when it came to my drama club — not in an abusive way — but I ruled with an iron fist and threw my entire self into that.”
Michael Cimino: “If I could go back, I would just want to redo high school itself. I never went to high school. I only did online school while I was pursuing acting so, yeah, I would really love to experience high school, especially senior year because, from what I’ve heard, it seems like the best part. You can go to prom, slack off and chill out more.”
Mary Holland: “In my freshman year of high school, I suddenly got so worried about being popular, and that’s exactly what happens in this movie. I was so worried about it, and so if I could go back, I would take that girl to the side and tell her, ‘You are surrounded by true friends who love you so much. Don’t worry about anything else. Just worry about being in the moment with your friends. And before you leave the house, take off an accessory.’ I went way too far. Also, I would try to brush her hair, too — anything else to help her.”
Tyler Barnhardt: “I have a lame answer because I actually think my high school experience was everything I needed in the moment. It got me ready for college and that prepared me to be ready to move here. I wouldn’t change anything. Maybe that’s me saying my life is going really well right now, or maybe that’s me being naïve, but I do like my high school experience exactly the way it happened. I was a theater kid, I did the morning announcements — I was that guy. I tried to be well-liked by everyone, and I wouldn’t change anything.”
Molly Brown: “Honestly, I would become a cheerleader. I think I would do it. I thought about it in high school but didn’t do it. Other than that, I’m very happy with a lot of the choices that I made in high school. I wrote for the school newspaper’s opinion section, I took a lot of classes I really wanted to take and graduated early. So, if I could, I would go back to school, take AP Spanish more seriously and be a cheerleader.”
Avantika: “I was never a regular attendee of school, so I missed the flyer notice about prom. Like, I literally missed it and didn’t know it was coming. A week before, everyone was saying, ‘We’re all going to prom,’ but I already had plans to be somewhere else so couldn’t make it. So, if I could go back, I would do prom, and I would also love to try and make more friends. My high school self was a lot more outgoing than my middle school self, but I would put myself out there more and make more of an effort to make friends.”
Zaire Adams: “This movie was my first high school experience because I did online school for all of high school. I was traveling so much and working as an actor and dancer, so Senior Year allowed me to experience what it was like to be on campus because we filmed at a real school. I never got to do prom or homecoming or anything like that, so I would redo so many things. I was also so young and inexperienced, so if I went back, I wouldn’t be so trusting of people. I offered my kindness to too many people that weren’t as receptive or as deserving of it. If I could go back, I might just take it back from certain people.”
Jade Bender: “I had a very interesting high school experience because I skipped two grades, so I was a lot younger than my peers. If I could go back and redo anything, I would give myself some tools to handle that age difference a little better because being 12 and starting high school was pretty wild and very intense. Other than that, I loved my high school experience.”
Joshua Colley: “I was home-schooled, so I really would have loved to do prom and all of that, but honestly, tonight feels like prom. I was with Avantika, who is truly my best friend, and we got ready at her house together. We were literally on the stairs doing prom pictures, so this feels the closest to prom I will probably get.”
Senior Year starts streaming May 13.