Mary Holland Talks Netflix’s Senior Year and Working With Rebel Wilson

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Stephanie Conway (Rebel Wilson) has it all. She’s the most popular girl in her high school, has the quarterback boyfriend, and is the head of her cheerleading squad. She dreams of the Barbie-and-Ken-esque lifestyle when she’s older, and more immediately, to be prom queen. All the dots seem to be connecting until during a cheer routine, she is tossed high into the air, not to be caught by her squad, but instead bonks her noggin into a 20-year coma.

Conway finally wakes up, now an older woman but with the same dreams. She returns to high school in pursuit of regaining her title as the most popular, with aspirations of becoming prom queen. Her old nemesis is now married to her ex-quarterback-boyfriend and her friend Martha Reiser (Mary Holland) is now principal.

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The cast of Senior Year also includes Sam Richardson, Zoë Chao, Justin Hartley, Chris Parnell, Angourie Rice, Michael Cimino, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Brandon Scott Jones, and Alicia Silverstone. The screenplay is by Andrew Knauer, Arthur Pielli, and Brandon Scott Jones. It’s directed by Alex Hardcastle and is available on Netflix on May 13, 2022.

Ahead of its release, Holland joined Movieweb to talk about the making of the film, working with Wilson, and what she hopes viewers take away from watching. Holland can be recognized for working on many projects including Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window, Comedy Bang! Bang!, and the list could go on.

What Was it Like on Set of Senior Year?

“It was such a wonderful, celebratory, and collaborative atmosphere. Our director Alex very much encouraged us to play around and improvise. And the script was written by an improviser… So, it always had this feeling of freedom and play and wanting everyone to have ownership of their characters and to find jokes in the moment.”

This checks out, given the number of laughs the movie can draw from the casts’ delivery of their lines, not only in what they say but how they say it.

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“It’s kind of an organic process. I guess it’s different from project to project, but doing a lot of comedy, it’s very much a tool that is used across the board to find new moments or to punch up a scene with jokes. Having the freedom to improvise helps find those organic moments… In my experience, it’s always sort of left up to us to navigate that, and then the director will guide us if we need it. Sometimes we hit the same beat, sometimes we find new beats, and I can only imagine how hard that is to edit.” Joked Holland. “But really all the directors I’ve worked with, where improv has been a part of it, it’s very much encouraged to just go with it. See what happens in the moments and not feel like you have to recreate a joke from the past.”


Working with Rebel Wilson

Holland’s character in Senior Year acts as an anchor, or grounding person in Wilson’s. Their characters were friends in high school, but with twenty years of development later and now as the principal, Reiser provides sobriety to Conway’s absurd moments, a juxtaposition that opens the door for fun.

“Rebel is so fun to play with. She’s so funny, and she is very easy to play that kind of grounding force to because she fully leaned into her character. She really embodied the 17-year-old spirit… It was a joy. She made me laugh so much, and it was very fun responding to the crazy things she would say.”

Contrasting High School Experiences

Given the difference in eras between the high school experiences in the movie, there’s a contrast in language, self-expression, and more generally, how the characters look at life. These differences work well as devices for character development.


“It was very interesting for me to come at the high school experience with this adult perspective and to get to look at it through that lens. I felt like there were so many tropes that they explored from the earlier time period that are so funny, nostalgic, and great. And what I really appreciated about the 2022 high school atmosphere is that it’s so much better. So much more inclusive and joyful. There’s so much more of an examination of parts of our growth that we didn’t really talk about or think about. It seems like there’s just an overall much healthier, emotional atmosphere.”

After watching Senior Year, Holland hopes for viewers to “feel inspired to be themselves and trust that they will be loved for who they are. I think that is what’s so beautiful about this movie, and definitely what drew me to it on top of it being full of so many amazing performers that I love and admire. It’s such a celebration of self-acceptance, growth, and friendship… I hope it’s an inspiring movie for our youth to watch.”


A kind sentiment for a movie that is sure to make us laugh and feel more confident in expressing our true selves.


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