Everybody who’s ever been to a wedding has a crazy story, whether it involves a disastrous bridal shower, horrid dress shopping, an out of control bachelorette party, a cake mishap or an aggressive best man. In the new comedy Bridesmaids, Kristen Wiig plays Annie, the maid of honor for Lillian (Maya Rudolph), her lifelong best friend. Though completely broke, Annie dives into all of the required wedding rituals, trying to keep up with the other bridesmaids, including her rival Helen (Rose Byrne), who is perfectly poised to do anything that Annie can’t. As Annie keeps coming up short in all areas of the wedding, her own life spirals further and further out of control, in an escalating series of disasters.
At the film’s press day, actress/co-writer/co-producer Kristen Wiig, along with director/executive producer Paul Feig and producer Judd Apatow, talked about how much fun it was to make the film, deciding on the right title that didn’t give the wrong impression, ruining many takes by laughing, and what they love about working with each other.
Question: Kristen, what did you enjoy most about making this film?
KRISTEN WIIG: Oh, my gosh, it’s so hard to pick. I enjoyed every day. Right before we started shooting, we rented a party bus and went to a strip club.
JUDD APATOW: If [Paul and I] did that, we’d be pigs.
Was this your first choice title for the film? Were you worried at al about the impression the title might give male audiences?
APATOW: Well, it was called Maid of Honor, and then a friend of mine made a movie and called his movie that. And then, he named his movie Made of Honor and outplayed me.
WIIG: To get guys in, we were just going to call it Naked Boobs and Guns, but we didn’t have either one of those things, so we changed it. We actually had a really hard time, trying to think of the title, to be honest. It was hard.
PAUL FEIG: I think the feeling was that it was always going to play in previews that it was about a wedding and that it’s with women, so we didn’t want to alienate the female audience by pretending that it wasn’t what it was. One of my favorite movies is The Devil Wears Prada, which when I saw the trailer, I was like, “I don’t know if I want to see that. That looks like it’s not for my demographic.” But then, when I saw it, it was so good that I was telling all my male friends, “You’ve gotta go see it!” I figured that’s the way to go. We can’t pretend it’s not a wedding movie.
Was there anything especially torturous that you wrote into the script, that you felt particularly bad about making the cast do?
WIIG: I guess when they had to puke on each other’s hair, maybe I felt a little bad, but they actually liked it. It was fun! We really made them throw up. That was real vomit.
FEIG: We’re method that way. That was the only moment I really felt weird. I had poor Wendi [McLendon-Covey] have her head thrown up on while she was sitting on her knees with her head in the toilet for about an hour, as we were thinking up jokes. We were like, “What would be funny to say? Oh, let’s say this.” But, what’s so great about working with really funny women is that vanity comes second. Whatever makes it real and funny, they’re going to go for, and it’s just great.
How much improvising was done on this film?
WIIG: We did a lot of improvising. We rehearsed for weeks before we started shooting, and did a lot of improvising there. And then, on the set, we shot it every way you could think of. We did the script, we improvised, and people would hand in lines from off-camera. All of the cast are amazing improvisers, so why not let them go to town with what they do best?
Was it hard to keep a straight face?
WIIG: Yes. We didn’t, really. We did ruin a lot of takes, laughing. You just didn’t get to see that.
FEIG: That’s why a lot of the trailers you’ll watch have lots of jokes that aren’t in the movie. We have this wealth of jokes. But, that’s better so that you get to see a new batch of jokes when you go to the movie.
What was it like to work with Jill Clayburgh, on her last film?
WIIG: I felt honored the moment she signed on [to do the film]. She was just what you would think. She was a very maternal, nurturing spirit. She was also game for anything. There were times when she was saying things and I would just start laughing. I was like, “Oh, my god, I’m making Jill Clayburgh talk about motor-boating,” which didn’t end up in the movie. She was amazing. I feel honored to have worked with her.
APATOW: We took some dirty Jill Clayburgh jokes out because I just thought, “That can’t be the last thing she ever says in a film.” We did debate it. We were like, “That’s funny, but that would be questionable.” She was the nicest woman. We’re all so influenced by her work and her acting style. We really appreciate that real, naturalistic acting style. She was just a great woman. None of us knew she was sick. She was just awesome, every day.
FEIG: Yeah, we had no clue that she was sick. One of my favorite moments is in the outtakes on the DVD. Kristen said, “I can’t believe we’re making you say this,” but then she said, “Oh, I love it!” She was so sincerely happy to be doing this kind of comedy that it’s a special memory for me.
Did crafting and creating the wedding for this movie feel at all like you were planning a real wedding, with everything you had to look at and decide on for it?
APATOW: I can show you some emails. Kristen was like, “That would not be the type of flowers they would have!”
FEIG: Kristen was very specific, and it was fantastic that she was.
Kristen, do have any particularly memorable experiences from your own wedding, or from when you were a bridesmaid or guest at someone else’s wedding?
WIIG: I haven’t really had any crazy wedding experiences. I really haven’t. I can relate to having those people in your life that you feel are moving on to this great, big, normal life and you’re like, “What’s wrong with me?” Being an actor and going on auditions and having odd jobs, in my late 20′s and early 30′s, and then going back to my hometown and visiting people that have houses and babies and cars, I’m like, “What’s wrong with me?” I can totally relate to that part of it.
Do you feel any better about going back home, now that you’ve made a career for yourself in Hollywood?
WIIG: I don’t go back home now. I just don’t go. No, I’m just kidding. My friends back home are very supportive.
This movie is left a bit open-ended. Did you intentionally write it, leaving it open to sequels?
WIIG: I wouldn’t say that. We didn’t wrap it up in a very nice bow because I like when movies don’t. You want to get the impression that everything is okay, but she doesn’t need those things to happen to be okay. We just left it open for that.
Kristen, why haven’t viewers gotten to see Target Lady on Saturday Night Live for awhile?
WIIG: I don’t know. I haven’t done her in awhile. Maybe I will. With recurring characters, you do them until you feel like people don’t want to see them anymore, but maybe I’ll do it again. How’s that for a vague answer?
Judd, your name brings a certain connotation to movie-goers now. Do you feel like you have a niche audience, where it’s safe for you to do certain films, knowing that audiences will be there?
APATOW: I don’t know. I don’t think about it too much. I just think about what I’m interested in and what makes me laugh and what performers I want to work with. A lot of times, it really starts with performers. Kristen and I had so much fun on Knocked Up and Walk Hard. I think, “Who would I want to be around and talk to for a couple of years?” It takes a long time to make these things, and there’s a lot to debate. Even now, I’m trying to cast the movie that I’m going to direct and a lot of it is just, “Who do I want to see every day? Who personally makes me laugh?” I never think in terms of the audience and what they’ll expect. You’re always trying to do something different every time. You’re breaking some sort of new ground, in challenging yourself.
FEIG: The great thing about Judd having his brand and having his name mean something to the public is that it allows us to not have to cast famous movie stars. We can break amazing people who you know, but who might not normally get to star in their own movie. It’s such a testament to him that he’s been doing this and he’s proven it right, and he gets to launch people, like Kristen [Wiig], who should be stars. The studio might want Angelina Jolie, so it’s nice that this happened.
WIIG: Are you saying I’m different than Angelina Jolie? No. I can list the differences.
FEIG: Kristen will be playing Tomb Raider. It’s very exciting.
WIIG: And, I’ll be in the sequel to The Tourist as well.
FEIG: Yes, exactly. Thank god, they’re making that.
APATOW: I thought Salt was very strong for someone who weighs 92 pounds. She really had very strong, thin arms.
Judd, both you and Paul have worked really well together, in the past. What do you admire most about working with the other?
APATOW: Well, I think Paul has a very kind heart. In addition to being able to do broad comedy, the acting is always very grounded and it’s about something emotional. These movies work best when there’s an emotional idea that someone is very passionate about, and then the comedy is built over something that has been figured out dramatically. What I like best when I watch the movie and watch Paul’s direction is that he just found a way to tell this story, and give them the ability to improvise and breathe, and some of the funniest things in the movie are these little pick-up lines after the punchline. There are some really sweet, connected things that you can tell happened on the set. It is a little bit of a Robert Altman way to approach the scenes, where you know what you want, but you just hope something else happens.
FEIG: I love working with Judd. We’ve always been in lock-step, tonally. We just like the same things. We like the honesty. What I love about working with Judd is that he’s the ultimate protector. He provides a safe environment for us, where we can just do our thing and not have to worry about anything extraneous, whether it’s the studio coming down on this, or concerns about production, or anything really. He just protects you from that. And also, he has this amazing ability to be able to cut to the core of what is a problem in a scene or in a script, in a way that I always admire. When he figures it out, I’m like, “Oh, god, I wish I had that power.” That allows us to go off and figure it out and play with it. He just has one of the greatest minds for that, that I’ve ever seen, as a storyteller and knowing character.
Kristen, what do you love about working with your co-writer, Annie Mumolo?
WIIG: I’ve known Annie for such a long time and we’ve written a lot together at The Groundlings, and it’s never been work. It’s always been fun. We worked on this script for four and a half years and we’ve never gotten in a fight or argued about anything. If she likes something and I think it should be something else, or I like something and she has a better idea, it’s easy. There’s no ego, and she makes me laugh more than any person in the world. And, with what Judd was saying about knowing what you want, but then seeing if something better comes along, that’s why I think the movie works. They pushed us to find things in the movie and in the script that maybe we were afraid to go to. They were really good about, “Let’s just try it. If it works, it works. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t.” Some of the great moments in the movie are because of that.
© 2011 Christina Radish, COLLIDER.COM