When you get offered a phone interview with Busy Phillips—the 20-year Hollywood veteran you loved in everything from cult faves Freaks and Geeks and Undeclared to soapy deliciousness like Dawson’s Creek and Cougar Town and your current favourite person to watch on Instagram Stories (don’t lie)—you say yes and think later. Then, if you’re a bona fide fan girl like me, you quietly freak out and wonder if she’ll immediately want to be your IRL best friend when you start chatting.
Alas, despite being the best pal every girl dreams of, Philipps, 38, is also a consummate professional, so while we *didn’t* wrap our interview by booking a girls weekend to Cabo, I hung up with a deeper appreciation for her work, her whip-smart intelligence and what a truly inspiring woman she is—as an actor, mother of two (to Birdie, 9, and Cricket, 4), famous best friend and, of course, completely relatable woman who, thankfully for us, shares pretty much every aspect of her life on the ‘gram.
I chatted with Philipps on the phone one beautiful recent Saturday while she was on a whirlwind press tour in New York City promoting her new film, I Feel Pretty, and yep, it made me love her more. Here, Philipps breaks down what she says the film is *really* about, talks about her actual bestie and I Feel Pretty costar, Michelle Williams, and reveals the secret behind her social media success (spoiler: none of it is planned).
Pump the brakes: I Feel Pretty isn’t about body-shaming or judgement
Philipps, who plays one of the protagonist Renee’s closest friends Jane in the film, gets that there’s a temptation to make snap judgements based on things like 20-second movie teasers, but she hopes you don’t. The film has sparked many a hot take about its seemingly problematic premise (FLARE among them). In the movie, Renee, played by Amy Schumer, feels dumpy and unattractive, knocks her head and suddenly sees herself as gorgeous and confident… but according to Philipps, it’s more about finding self-acceptance and confidence no matter what you look like, as opposed to pitting different appearances and body images against one another.
“It was never about making fun of someone’s body or someone’s looks,” Philipps stressed. “I think it was always very clear from the script it’s not about the character Renee—I could have played the character, anyone could have played the character of Renee!” She went on to explain that the movie wasn’t try to say people who might look like Renee (Schumer) should feel bad about themselves; rather the point is that every person, no matter how they look or how successful they are, struggles with self-esteem.
“The character that Emily Ratajkowski plays it was a model who’s struggling with her own insecurity. And then in juxtaposition to that there are the girls that are Renee’s best girlfriends, Jane and Viv, who have their own insecurities but overall, they’re pretty secure and feel great about things and are really just trying to do their best to support their friend in this sort of bizarre journey that she’s going through,” says Philipps, likening her own role to helping your girls navigate weird shit IRL. “The secret to long-lasting female friendship is to be able to sit by with very little judgement as your friends go through things and try to be there and supportive of them.”
I’ll tell you a line that’s in my book right now (you’ll have to wait until fall for the rest of the book…) “Michelle is a very easy person to fall in love with. Anyone who really knows her will tell you that. And probably anyone who barely knows her would say that, too.” #creekweek @entertainmentweekly
The movie is truly a family (and friends) affair
Philipps’s husband of more than 10 years, filmmaker Marc Silverstein, co-wrote and co-directed the film with his longtime collaborator (and the couple’s good friend), Abby Kohn. As if that weren’t enough, Philipps’s best friend and frequent red carpet partner in crime, Michelle Williams, also stars in the film (and side note, she takes on a comedic role for the first time and crushes it). Sadly, unlike their Dawson’s Creek days, the pair weren’t in any scenes together—but just knowing they were on the same set is enough for me to be sold, hbu? “We were basically two ships in the night, which was such a bummer,” says Philipps. “Next time we’ll have to coordinate better and maybe find a script in which we can actually have scenes together.”
Going to the Oscars with her sounds like a damn hoot
Remember when Williams said that Busy was the “love of her life” on the Manchester By the Sea red carpet in 2016? Us too, and we’re still obsessed with their love. Another red carpet they’ve walked more than once? The Academy Awards and, well, we’d really like to third-wheel. According to Phillips, the best part of attending movie’s biggest night with her numero uno is something we’d be into, too. “Well, we always get to sit in the front row, which is fun! And then you become a meme, what more could you ask for?” she says, referring to the unforgettable Best Picture mix-up of 2017.
She doesn’t know the secret to maintaining self-confidence but has learned a thing or two in her two decades in Hollywood
You work and live in L.A. for two decades, you’re bound to face some challenges when it comes to body image and self-esteem, no? Philipps says navigating Hollywood and maintaining a positive sense of self-worth hasn’t always been a cake walk. “I’ve had varying degrees of success over the years in terms of that battle, which a lot of people face. I work in an industry where the scrutiny can be a little bit more intense, especially as a woman.” Philipps says. “I find it strange that society feels like they have the right to comment on our bodies and our appearance at all, but when you’re an actor that sort of is multiplied. I’ve had people say very crazy things to me in public about my appearance when they think they’re being complimentary.”
Philipps continued: “But especially in the last few years, I’ve really tried to make a concerted effort to think about the way that I talk to myself, especially because I have two young girls and I want them to see me as someone who is empowered and who doesn’t define my self-worth by my body or my face.”
Her Instagram journey has been an organic one
Philipps shares everything on Insta Stories, from her sweaty workouts to insanely sweet vids of her daughters dancing to herself in tears over accidentally leaving Birdie’s beloved teddy bears at a hotel in Hawaii. And she says it came naturally to her. “I’ve been working professionally in the entertainment industry for 20 years and, truly, it was just a way that I felt I could entertain and share a little bit more,” Philipps says, adding that she’s been surprised by her popularity on the ‘gram. “The fact that people responded so strongly to it and that I have so many people that watch these stories every day is a little bit shocking to me, but it’s also nice and flattering. I’m appreciative that people want to hear my stories or want to share with me their own takes based on things I’ve said.”
And then, my imaginary BFF closed with a bit of wisdom we could all use, tbh: “To me, social media at its best is when you can make the world feel a little bit smaller, you know?”