One of the criminally few, female-centered blockbusters this summer season is Bridesmaids , which stars SNL MVP Kristen Wiig (who co-wrote with fellow Groundlings alum Annie Mumolo) as a single 30-something whose life gets worse as her best friend (Maya Rudolph) preps for a splashy wedding. The inclusion of raunch (and an R-rating) has yielded (erroneous) comparisons to The Hangover, but it’s more a character study, albeit a consistently comical one. Wiig, along with Reno 911 alum Wendi McClendon-Covey, who plays a fellow bridesmaid, talked to PW during a 16-hour pit-stop in Philly.
Did you set out from the start to make a female-centered comedy?
Kristin Wiig: “It wasn’t like we were making a statement. We didn’t specifically write this story in response to other movies, or movies that hadn’t been made.”
Wendi McClendon-Covey: “It wasn’t contrived. It was like, ‘Oh, this is a funny story.’ It happened to have a lot of women in it. It wasn’t a big feminist statement.”
Some of the buzz surrounding Bridesmaids is that it’s The Hangover for girls.
KW: “A lot of people right now are saying that because a lot of people are saying it. I am flattered at the comparison, but they’re very different movies. I don’t want people to think we wrote this in response—that we saw The Hangover and thought, ‘Let’s write this for women.’”
Judd Apatow produced, and like all his productions, Bridesmaids seems strongly collaborative. How true is the assumption that the script is a mere blueprint, or has many set places for improv from the actors on the set?
KW: “No, we had a script. We shot the script. We shot it a bunch of different ways.”
WM-C: “If we had time, we improvised. What Judd imparted to Kristin and Annie was that they’re not done writing until the last day of shooting. If someone thinks of something funnier, it’s going in.”
KW: “And we did a lot of writing during the shooting.”
WM-C: “They filmed all our rehearsals. And they would write transcripts of our rehearsals, and give those to us. So, we had a lot of stuff to choose from as actors.”
What is it like performing on a film set as opposed to, say, working on a stage or a live TV show, where you get to feed off the energy of an audience?
KW: “It is a different thing because you don’t know if it’s funny when you’re doing a movie. You don’t have that live audience. That’s why when you see the movie for the first time with an audience, it’s kind of terrifying. You’ll watch something and think, ‘Oh, this is that scene. Remember we were laughing really hard?’ And then silence. Or the opposite, where we weren’t even thinking about something and it’s the biggest laugh in the movie. You just can’t tell.”
Most comedies exist in a bubble, but Bridesmaids acknowledges the real world. Annie is a victim of a bad economy and has a crippling fear of being left behind as friends “grow up.” Was that culled from your own life?
KW: “No, not specifically from me. It’s about the stage in one’s life when you don’t know what you want to do. You’re a little lost, and you’re in your 30s, and maybe all your friends seemingly have it together. You start to feel, ‘What’s wrong with me?’”
WM-C: “And as actors, it’s such an uncertain thing, when you’re first trying to get your big break. Something it doesn’t happen on your time table, so you feel like Annie felt and you’re like, ‘OK, I’ve got to go to my reunion next week.’”
KW: “‘I’m the crazy one living in L.A.!’” [laughs]
MC-W: “‘I’m the one wearing shoes I colored in with a sharpie because I can’t afford new ones!’ I think we’ve all felt that way.”
Not a lot of comedies—or movies in general really—are primarily cast with women.
The movie is a bit messy and way too long. But it’s also grounded in an economic reality that few mainstream comedies dare address.