With No Hard Feelings, Andrew Barth Feldman Lives Out a Jennifer Lawrence Rom-Com Dream

A portrait og Andrew Barth Feldman laughing
Photograph by Stephanie Diani; image treatment by Ashley Peña

When Andrew Barth Feldman first read the screenplay for No Hard Feelings, in which he plays an intensely introverted 19-year-old named Percy, he thought, “this character is so close to me.” At that point, he had no idea how close. Once Feldman got the role, he learned they would be filming down the street from his childhood home on Long Island. While shooting his biggest part to date—opposite Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence—Feldman lived in his parents’ house. “It was crazy and perfect for the role,” he says. “I was sleeping in my childhood bedroom, feeling stuck there in the same ways that Percy does.”

Of course, Feldman is more outgoing than Percy. The actor, 21, became a Broadway star as a teenager when he won the the National High School Musical Theatre Awards in 2018 and was immediately cast as the eponymous character in the Tony-winning musical Dear Evan Hansen. Percy, meanwhile, is so closed off to the world that his parents (Laura Benanti and Matthew Broderick) hire Maddie, a 32-year-old woman (Lawrence), to euphemistically “date” him, promising her a car if she has sex with him.

But despite their different trajectories, Feldman identified with Percy. “It was this kid who feels very sheltered, feels very afraid of the world, feels very incapable,” he says. “I think it’s pretty easy for me to feel that way sometimes. Especially growing up, there was so much I felt like I couldn’t do.” Except now, he counts Jennifer Lawrence as one of his “best friends.”

Feldman admits there’s no “natural progression” to his career, which also included a TikTok Ratatouille musical on his way to his first major blockbuster. “It’s been these exponential leaps of all the things that I thought, if they ever happened, would be 10 to 20 years from now,” he says.

His audition process for No Hard Feelings started out like any other, but as soon as he got in a room with Lawrence, he knew it felt right. Not only did he think the image of the two of them together funny, she also put him quickly at ease. On set, they became fast friends, to the dismay of director Gene Stupnitsky, who wanted to keep them at a distance at first to heighten the awkward tension. “We were immediately oversharing and telling each other our deepest, darkest secrets,” he says. Feldman and Lawrence were constantly trying not to make each other laugh in the middle of takes—purposefully avoiding eye contact so as not to break. In one scene, however, he made Lawrence cry.

Midway through the movie, Maddie encourages Percy to play a song at a fancy restaurant where they are dining on lobster. Percy, emboldened by his affection for Maddie, performs Hall & Oates’s “Maneater,” a song they had discussed during one of their early outings. (The track scared Percy as a kid, because he thought it was about a literal man-eater.)

The sequence found its way into the plot after Feldman was already cast. Stupnitsky was looking for a beat in the action that would allow the audience to see Percy open up, thanks to his developing friendship. After the director and his co-writer John Phillips came across a video of Feldman performing Elton John’s “Rocket Man,” it was settled: Feldman would sing. The filmmakers allowed the actor to arrange “Maneater” himself, and Lawrence advocated for him to sing it live. “It’s 100 percent harder to do,” he says. “It’s a nightmare for sound, it’s a nightmare for editing, but we knew that if there was any potential for that moment being as special we thought it could be, I’d have to sing it live.”

It was so special, in fact, that Lawrence was crying the whole day, Feldman recalls. At the end, she gave him an entire cheesecake. The gift was in reference to Feldman avoiding dairy, save one slice of the dessert, every Sunday post-matinee, while working on Evan Hansen.

Andrew Barth Feldman and Jennifer Lawrence attend the Berlin Premiere of No Hard Feelings at Zoo Palast on June 15, 2023.

Photo by Sebastian Reuter/Getty Images for Sony Pictures

Andrew Barth Feldman and Jennifer Lawrence attend the London premiere of No Hard Feelings on June 12, 2023.

Photo by John Phillips/Getty Images for Sony Pictures

Music remains part of his and Lawrence’s relationship. When they were on the press tour for No Hard Feelings in Berlin, they gathered with friends in her hotel room, which had a piano. Feldman sang selections from the musical James and the Giant Peach, one of his favorites, as well as some originals. Lawrence, he says, sang as well. “It was kind of magical,” he adds.

Feldman, who briefly attended Harvard, just released a single called “The College Breakup,” and teases that there’s more music on the way. He’s also working on musical theater projects, and is writing something for TV on his own “just for fun.” (He is quick to add that he’s not part of the WGA, but stands with the strike.) As for his next move acting-wise, he wants to take on roles that fulfill him—and isn’t picky about genre or medium. If his career up until this point is any indication, something good will most likely come along.

Although it probably won’t require him to stay in his childhood home. After all, he got his own apartment during production on No Hard Feelings. Just like Percy, he was growing up.