When Allison Winn auditioned for Mean Girls, the musical based on the Broadway show based on the 2004 movie, she wasn't sure she would nab the part of Caroline Krafft — or any part at all.
"I figured everyone was auditioning for this movie, and I knew the chances were slim — but I felt good about my tape. When you feel good about something, that's always meaningful," the actress exclusively tells Morning Honey.
Fortunately, Winn's intuition was right and she scored the role of Caroline, who went up against North Shore High School's Mathletes in a math quiz in the original movie.
"In the 2004 movie, Caroline was a reflection of Cady Heron's biggest fears. When she looks in the mirror, she was awkward, unglamorous and openly smart. In the 2024 version, it's a different version of it this time, and she doesn't have the same qualities as before," Winn explains about the character, who wears glasses and has a unibrow in the first flick.
Fortunately, Winn barely needed to prep, as she knew the 2004 movie like the back of her hand. "I had the entire movie committed to memory before this whole process started," she quips. "I didn't have to do much, but I obviously rewatched that scene and scrutinized it for my own purposes. With the new movie, there was a lot of room for interpretation, which was really nice, and the writers did such a good job with it. I figured out how to put my own spin on it. It was great to have a legendary performance to base it off of."
The star didn't want to give away too much when it comes to her character, but she admits it's worth the wait.
Winn also got to work alongside Tina Fey, who wrote the first movie, which was a "dream" come true for her. "We've all been obsessed with this movie for 20 years, and to be on the inside of it was absolutely surreal," she gushes. "Everybody is such a pro, and it was amazing. Tina Fey was telling stories about the 2004 film and talking about how she's proud of everybody. It was such a pinch me moment."
"The most validating thing was becoming part of the Mean Girls family and knowing that once you join the crew, you're forever part of that legacy," she shares about the flick, which starred Lindsay Lohan, Rachel McAdams, Amanda Seyfried and Lacey Chabert as "The Plastics."
"It gave me a lot confidence to do my best, and everyone created such a wonderful environment to be on. At the after-party I took a picture with Tina Fey, and Jon Hamm popped into the background and photobombed us, so that was really fun. Clearly, everyone who works with Tina is fun and down to clown," she says.
This time around, the movie stars Angourie Rice as Cady, Renée Rapp as Regina George (reprising her Broadway role), Auli'i Cravalho as Janis, Jaquel Spivey as Damian, Avantika as Karen and Bebe Wood as Gretchen, and though Winn worked closely with Rice and Fey, she still gushed over the "talented" actors.
"We knew people were going to love this and be excited about this. I hope people like it! It was a unique experience," she shares, adding that it's "important" for her to honor the original movie. "Once we got there, we were in such good hands. We all wanted to do a good job and wanted to make Tina Fey happy and become her next generation of babies. My favorite part was working with so many people I've admired for a really long time and to work with directors Samantha Jayne and Arturo Perez Jr. It was so refreshing what they would come up. Getting to work with them on this reinterpretation of this story was so special."
"There's also singing and dancing, so that's great!" she adds of how the movie is different than the original. "They do such a good job of honoring nostalgic moments, and a lot of it shows up in the fashion and dialogue, of course. Tina Fey is back, Tim Meadows, who played Mr. Duvall, is back. It honors how timeless the movie is. If anything, it will make you love the 2004 movie more. It's another version to enjoy, and we're not trying to replace anything."
Growing up, Winn remembered wanting to be friends with Karen and Damian. "Even with all the humor and heightened aspects of it, I was like, 'I see myself in this story.' I understand what it feels like to navigate the jungle that is high school and bullying," she says.
Winn primarily focused on dancing when she was younger, and was later captivated by certain movies, including Gone With the Wind and Hitchcock films. "While I was dancing and learning to sing and going to school, I slowly kept falling more and more in love with the idea of being an actor and how being an actor affects you as a dancer and singer," she shares. "At one point, I was like, 'This is who I am and where I belong.'"
Since then, Winn has appeared in several TV projects, including DareDevil, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Mr. Robot and in the Film Vox Lux.
"I love comedy and drama. I love that one day I can be in a film about war and the next day shooting a yogurt commercial," she says. "I love bouncing around and doing different things. It's so exciting."
Going forward, Winn would "happily work" with Fey and the Mean Girls crew again, but she would really enjoy being involved in a period piece or a horror series. "I love Tim Burton's Wednesday. I'd also love to work with Taylor Sheridan, who does all the Yellowstone shows, but I'll go anywhere," she says.
"I am going with the flow, but for now, I am so proud of Mean Girls. I feel lucky to be hired for all these different opportunities because it keeps me very happy artistically to be able to do different things," she concludes. "We had a crazy year with the strikes, so I am happy to be out there again!"
Mean Girls will be in theaters on January 12, then available on streaming.