The first time Christopher Briney got an email offering him an audition for the role of Aaron Samuels in the Mean Girls reboot, he turned it down. You heard that right. How does one pass up on something so iconic?
“I can’t sing, but I especially can’t sing in that calibre,” he admits to GQ. The idea of joining the cast of a musical—a movie based on the stage adaptation of the hit 2004 film— was a tough sell, particularly since this one would feature an ensemble of fierce voices including Reneé Rapp’s savage Regina George, the meanest Plastic of them all. But a few months later, the offer came back around. This time, no singing would be required.
“I was like, ‘Yeah, of course’—I mean, it’s incredibly iconic,” Briney says. “And the rest is history.”
At 25, the native New Yorker is no stranger to playing high-schoolers caught up in love triangles. He did it for the first time in his breakthrough role, as the withdrawn, brooding Conrad Fisher in Prime’s coming-of-age romance series The Summer I Turned Pretty. Now, as Aaron in Mean Girls, he’s slinging a backpack over one shoulder to revisit his youth yet again.
“A big part of my process is knowing where I was at that age,” Briney says. “How [a character’s] experience was different from mine, and how I can sort of close the gap between experiences and what those feelings were like for me at the time — my equivalent of those — and putting myself in their shoes.”
Here, the rising star dives into the pop-culture phenomenon that is Mean Girls, breaks down the love interests he’s played, tells us what it’s like navigating fashion in Hollywood, and explains what, above all else, has his heart.
GQ: What was it like to be part of this reboot?
There are no words to get all of it. I was just so happy and honored to be there. Just look at the talent involved in this movie, from Tina [Fey], to the cast, the cameos, how iconic the world is. It’s so cool— especially as Aaron, because he gets to be a little pawn in the plot. He’s an observer, he’s malleable, he’s pushed around a little bit.
Mean Girls is very much a musical, why do you think it wasn’t really marketed that way?
I truly don’t know their marketing plan. My feeling is it’s really easy to assume that this is either a direct remake of the 2004 movie or an adaptation of the musical, and from the onset, they wanted to let people know that this is something different that sort of exists in space. I don’t know, but potentially, people might look at it as just a musical if they’d pushed that first.
How did you prepare to step into Aaron’s shoes?
I’d seen the original countless times. I don’t know who hasn’t at this point. But when I booked it, I decided that I didn’t want to revisit it until after we shot it because I didn’t want to try and [emulate it], it’s such a trap to [do that]…because it’s so good. The original is so good and those characters are so fleshed out that there’s no point, and you’re doing a disservice to the work if you just try and recreate what they did.