‘I so hope she’s cool,’ says a female friend when I say I’m off to interview writer/actress/comedian Kristen Wiig. ‘Her character in Bridesmaids? It’s basically me.’
Several million other women would agree. In 2011, Wiig’s raunchy comedy about what it’s like to be at your best friend’s wedding when you’re the reluctant thirtysomething singleton maid of honour clearly twanged a global chord.
Budgeted at $32.5million, Bridesmaids eventually grossed more than $288million, earned Wiig a Golden Globe nomination for best actress, an Oscar nomination for best original screenplay and, as a by-product, means there are now as many vagina jokes as penis jokes in mainstream US comedies.
‘Hey, I don’t want to take credit for opening the vagina floodgates,’ the bunny-nosed Wiig eye-rolls good-humouredly.
‘A lot of people ask if we were trying to make certain statements and show that women could act like men and it’s so funny, because I don’t see Bridesmaids in that way at all. I’m almost like: “There were vagina jokes?” We just wrote stuff that made us laugh and, to me, it’s just a comedy about friendship and stuff – there are lots of things in it besides the puking and the pooing in the street.’
Which is all deliciously inappropriate given we’re here to discuss Wiig’s upcoming family-friendly comedy Despicable Me 2, sequel to the tenth biggest animated feature in US history. She plays Lucy Wilde, a ditzy superspy with a lipstick Taser, who she describes as ‘a very strong, confident woman’.
Does she feel responsible for providing women with positive feminist role models on screen?
‘I don’t really feel like it is a conscious weight or worry,’ shrugs Wiig, who is clearly not comfortable with being a strident advocate for women. ‘I mean, when there are movies that are mostly men, no one comments on that.’
She’s tomboyish today in coral skinny jeans (‘they are the most comfortable stretchy pants!’) and a battered rock’n’roll leather jacket – the only hint of her relationship with Strokes drummer Fabrizio Moretti. But she says: ‘I’d rather not talk about my…’ she adopts a precious starlet voice, ‘personal life.’
Wiig, 39, says she had no struggle getting into or holding her own in the male-dominated world of comedy. Born in New York, the daughter of a British artist and a middle-class Norwegian-Irish-American father, she trained as an artist herself before dropping out to join the Groundlings improv troupe.
From there, she graduated to US sketch show Saturday Night Live, on which she was a well-loved regular from 2005 to 2012 (her final show was hosted by Mick Jagger) and slowly started to infiltrate the big screen in scene-stealing bit parts such as the bitchy, passive-aggressive PA in Knocked Up who tells Katherine Heigl: ‘We can’t legally ask you to lose weight, but…’
Enviably toned and tanned herself, Wiig declares she never really thinks about diet: ‘I’m a healthy, conscious eater.’ Her physique, she says, is down to lucky genes. She trained as a ballet dancer for seven years and, though she’s about to turn 40, admits that in her head she’s still 33. She certainly looks it.
‘Thanks for saying that,’ she grins, twiddling her hair, ‘because I’m so jetlagged. I just came from Paris this morning. Honestly it’s all make-up: shimmer, it’s all shimmer. I am just completely glittery right now.’
As is her movie career. She’ll be following Despicable Me 2 with a December double whammy, The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty and the trouser-wettingly anticipated Anchorman 2: this year’s big Christmas releases.
‘I can’t really tell you much about Anchorman 2,’ says Wiig while miming zipping her mouth. ‘It’s a bit of a tight-lipped operation over there. I play Steve Carell’s… well, someone he meets that he fancies.’ She laughs. ‘That’s pretty much all I can say except it’s really funny. Reading the script made me so happy. I was like: “This is why I do comedic stuff.”’ Wiig is also working on a script of her own with Bridesmaids co-writer Annie Mumolo. Though she won’t tell me anything about it except that it won’t be Bridesmaids 2. ‘It’s so early,’ she adds, ‘it’s like a little egg.’
Wiig may not want to be a flag-waver for smart women on film but she is, purely because her big screen career is going stellar just as she hits 40, an age which, until recently, was considered the career death knell for women in Hollywood
‘I know, that’s so weird, particularly as I never think about age,’ she muses, pulling at the laces on her black high top sneakers. ‘I guess it matters in “the business”. All I know is I’m grateful that I’m working and let’s hope that after I turn 40 I still have opportunities.’
Her laugh has an ever so slightly rueful note to it. ‘And hey, I still have a few months left!’
© 2013 Larushka Ivan-Zadeh, METRO.