“Don’t become something just because someone else wants you to, or because it’s easy; you won’t be happy. You have to do what you really, really, really, really want to do, even if it scares the shit out of you.”
– Kristen Wiig, March 2010 (Elle)

Kristen Carroll Wiig was on born August 22, 1973 in Canandaigua, New York, as the daughter of Laurie Johnston, an artist, and Jon J. Wiig, who ran a lake marina in Upstate New York. Her father is of Norwegian and Irish ancestry and her mother is of English and Scottish descent. The name Wiig hails from the area of Sogn og Fjordane in Norway. When Kristen was three years old, she moved with her family to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, but later returned to the state of New York to live in Rochester, where she attended and graduated from Brighton High School.

“The worst job I ever had, I only had for one day. It was answering phones at a law office. It was the most complicated phone system you could imagine, and they taught it to me in one second and were like, “Okay, bye!” – and left me there.”
– Kristen Wiig, March 2010 (Elle)

Wiig went on to attend the University of Arizona with a major in art. When she took an acting class in university to fulfill a course requirement, her teacher suggested she continue to act. Kristen “wasn’t really feeling the college…area”, so she dropped out and got a job at a plastic surgeons office. There she was hired to do the graphics of what people would look like post-surgery, but realized it wasn’t what she wanted, and the day she was supposed to start, she instead packed up her stuff and drove to Los Angeles to try out “this acting thing” that she quite liked. Coming to L.A., Kristen wasn’t at all familiar with the area, and she even ripped out a map from a phone book and randomly decided to move in to an apartment on Rochester Avenue (like her hometown). She also didn’t know how to get started with acting, having taken just one acting class, but got involved with a sketch comedy theater called the Groundlings. After just a year with them, Wiig was promoted up from the Sunday Company to be part of the main group of actors in the Main Company.

While working with the Groundlings and really trying to make it as an actress, Kristen was waiting tables and worked odd jobs to get by. One of her first jobs was at Universal Studios, where she worked in the restaurant, but later moved up to the theme park. There she tried to bring in people to watch an hourly stage show of the X-men, and played a news reporter while doing so (“did you hear that there are mutants on the loose?”).

A lot of the characters we’re seeing Kristen play on Saturday Night Live she actually created already at the Groundlings. One of them was Aunt Linda, a very confused movie-critic who, at the Groundlings, was watching The Matrix and had no clue as to what was going on. She got her start on TV in 2003, when she appeared in the Spike TV show The Joe Schmo Show, a spoof of reality television, in which she played “Dr. Pat”, the quack marriage counselor. She continued working in theater productions, but was discovered by SNL executive Lorne Michaels and drafted to join the legendary comedy show.

“I don’t know if anyone ever showed up better equipped for the show than Kristen did. She was immediately great at it, and it’s a very hard job to be great at. Her characters were broad but built out of incredibly subtle observations.”
– Seth Myers, March 2012 (Vogue)

Wiig debuted on Saturday Night Live shortly into its 31st season, with her first appearance on the show on November 12, 2005. She then survived a budget cut and became a full member of the repertory cast at the beginning of the show’s 32nd season in 2006. Her characters include Penelope, a neurotic one-upper; Kat, half of the musical duo Garth and Kat (frequently appearing on Weekend Update alongside Fred Armisen); Dooneese Merrill, the girl with a giant forehead and doll hands, on the Lawrence Welk show; theater actress Mindy Grayson in the Secret Word sketches; Gilly, a highly mischievous schoolgirl; Sue, who can’t control her excitement over surprises; The Target Lady, a clerk at the chain store and a kitsch collector; Shanna, the want to be-sexy girl who continues to gross people out; Cheryl Brown, a TV host for giveaway-shows that is always more excited about the prize than the winners; one part of the “Two A-holes” with Jason Sudeikis; Judy Grimes, a nervous travel agent, “just kidding”; Rebecca Larue, a flirting expert; and Aunt Linda, a hard-to-please movie critic, both appearing on Weekend Update. She has also played real-life people such as Suze Orman, Kathie Lee Gifford, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, Christine O’Donnell, former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Congresswoman Michele Bachmann.

Kristen has been nominated for three Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for her work on Saturday Night Live, in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012. She won the award for Best TV Actress at the 2011 Comedy Awards over talented ladies Tina Fey, Betty White, Jane Lynch and Jane Krakowski.

She made her big screen debut in Judd Apatow’s 2007 comedy Knocked Up as a passive-aggressive assistant. That led her to snatch other supporting roles in films such as Ghost Town, with Ricky Gervais; Adventureland opposite SNL co-star Bill Hader, Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart; as roller derby queen in Drew Barrymore’s directorial debut Whip It; and as the yoga teacher in Apatow’s Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Her profile in Hollywood continued to rise in 2010 as she played voice roles in the hit animated movies Despicable Me and How to Train Your Dragon. She earned her first lead role in 2010’s MacGruber, the feature film of Will Forte’s SNL character. A parody of action-adventure television series MacGyver, MacGruber stars, other than Will Forte in the title role; Kristen Wiig as his love interest/partner Vicki St. Elmo; Ryan Phillippe as Dixon Piper, a young lieutenant who becomes part of MacGruber’s team; and Val Kilmer as the aptly named villain, Dieter von Cunth. The film was released on May 21, 2010, after being pushed from its original April 23 date. MacGruber received mixed reviews and underperformed drastically at the box office, earning just $8 million on a budget of $10 million. But her bad silver screen luck was about to change, come 2011.

First, she appeared in another lead role, as Ruth Buggs in the science-fiction comedy Paul. The movie was directed by Greg Mottola, written by Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, and stared Pegg, Frost, and the voice of Seth Rogen as the title character. Paul earned favorable reviews and made almost $100 million at the worldwide box office, easily making back it’s $40 million budget.

“As an actress, I watch agape and in awe as she fearlessly navigates between the most subtle assessment of a bridal rival and, say, wrestling a giant cookie. It’s really really hard to be funny. It’s even harder to do it like Kristen does. We feel every pang of regret, every uncomfortable pause, every wave of nausea, every flutter of feeling and we love her even at her most unlovable. It’s been described as charm but it’s much, much more than that.”
Carey Mulligan, November 2011 (Variety)

Then came the big break for Kristen Wiig – Bridesmaids. Not only was she the lead of the movie, Wiig also co-wrote the movie with fellow Groundlings performer Annie Mumolo. Directed by Paul Feig and produced by Judd Apatow, Barry Mendel & Clayton Townsend, the plot centers on Kristen’s character Annie, who after being asked to be the maid of honour for her best friend Lillian, played by Maya Rudolph, suffers a number of misfortunes. Rose Byrne, Melissa McCarthy, Ellie Kemper, and Wendi McLendon-Covey co-star as Annie’s fellow bridesmaids, with Chris O’Dowd and Jill Clayburgh — who sadly died of leukemia in November 2010, before the film was released – playing key supporting roles. The film became both a critical and box office success, earning a whopping $169 million at the domestic box office alone (almost $290 million worldwide). It even surpassed Knocked Up to become the top-grossing Apatow production to date. The film received an impressive 90% overall approval rating from and served as a touchpoint for a discussion about women in comedy.

Bridesmaids received a nomination for Best Picture Musical or Comedy at the 2012 Golden Globe Awards, and Wiig herself was nominated for Best Actress Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy. The movie was included in the American Film Institute’s Top 10 Movies of 2011, and the cast was nominated for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture at the 2012 Screen Actors Guild Awards. Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo also received a nomination for Best Original Screenplay at the 2012 Writers Guild Awards. Not only that, but writing the screenplay for Bridesmaids also made Kristen Wiig an Academy Award nominee, as she and Annie received an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay (and Melissa McCarthy was nominated for Best Supporting Actress). After being nominated but never winning at all the shows, Kristen and Annie finally won the award for Best Comedy Screenplay at the 2012 Comedy Awards.

At the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival, another new movie starring Kristen Wiig premiered; Friends with Kids. Written and directed by Jennifer Westfeldt, the story centers on two best friends who decide to have a child together, while keeping their relationship platonic. The reason for that is so they can avoid the toll kids can take on romantic relationships. Kristen only has a small – but scene stealing – part alongside Jon Hamm. Adam Scott, Jennifer Westfeldt herself, Edward Burns and Megan Fox are the main actors of the film. It premiered to good reviews, and had a good theatrical run in the US in March 2012.

“I couldn’t even comprehend what was happening until Mick Jagger pulls me on stage and I’m looking out in the audience and I was like ‘Oh my gosh, I’m leaving. This is crazy.'”
– Kristen Wiig, July 2013 (Access Hollywood)

Kristen Wiig was now one of Hollywood’s hottest commodities, and rumors that she would be leaving Saturday Night Live after seven years, at the end of the 37th season (and her seventh season on the show) began to swirl in the spring of 2012. So when the season finale aired on May 19, 2012, so did Kristen Wiig’s farewell. She got a very special send-off, as she was invited on stage by host Mick Jagger, who began to dance with her to Rolling Stones’ classic “She’s a Rainbow.” Then the ensemble sang another Stones hit, “Ruby Tuesday,” with its line, “still I’m gonna miss you.” She shared an emotional dance with castmembers and executive producer Lorne Michaels. “I found out that we might be doing some sort of send-off on the show and I was so surprised. Then we weren’t gonna do it, and then it was like, quarter of one and the show was about to be over. Then we were gonna do it and I barely got in my seat before the sketch started so I didn’t really have a chance to prepare. I couldn’t even comprehend what was happening until Mick Jagger pulls me on stage and I’m looking out in the audience and I was like ‘Oh my gosh, I’m leaving. This is crazy.’ and then I danced with all of them, and Lorne.”

In May 2013 Kristen returned to the stage at Studio 8H for her first time as a host of Saturday Night Live. She appeared in every sketch throughout the show (proving her SNL MVP status) to rave reviews. She earned her sixth Primetime Emmy nomination for the episode in the category “Guest Actress in a Comedy Series”. Let’s hope that the sixth time is a charm for Kristen, come the award show in September.

“When I say I’m doing something dramatic, people are always a little surprised. But to me, it’s like, ‘I’m an actor, I do a bunch of things.’ I started on Saturday Night Live and most people know me from Bridesmaids, so of course it makes sense that they would see me as somebody who just does comedies but I hope that I get the opportunity to do everything.”
– Kristen Wiig, June 2013 (The Guardian)

After ending her run on Saturday Night Live, Kristen wasted no time as she started filming The Secret Life of Walter Mitty in late May of 2012. The re-telling of the 1947 classic film, is the story of a timid magazine photo manager who lives life vicariously through daydreams embarks on a true-life adventure when a negative goes missing. Directed, produced and starring Ben Stiller, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty premiered some footage at the 2013 CinemaCon to an audience in awe. It’s been called “the next Life of Pi, mixed with the epic storytelling of Forrest Gump.” The movie will arrive in cinemas on Christmas Day, 2013. After filming she took some well-deserved time off, only to film one movie after another in the fall and winter of 2012/2013. First up was Hateship, Loveship, based on the book “Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage”. She stars as Johanna Parry, who moves to a new town to work for Mr. McCauley and his granddaughter, Sabitha. Sabitha and her friend trick Johanna into a one-way epistolary romance with Sabitha’s father Ken. Johanna lights on fire, and commits a criminal act to get to her lover, who barely knows she exists. Kristen’s co-stars are Guy Pearce, Hailee Steinfeld and Nick Nolte. The film is scheduled to premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in September of 2013. After finishing the filming, Kristen went straight into The Skeleton Twins, where she was reunited with one of her SNL buddies Bill Hader. After coincidentally cheating death on the same day, estranged twins Milo and Maggie reunite to confront how their lives went so wrong; for Maggie, it means re-examining her marriage, which Milo tracks down his ex-lover, Rich. Kristen and Bill star as Maggie and Milo, respectively. “I’ve always wanted to do dramatic stuff. I did two this year that are going the festival route so we’ll see,” Kristen said of the two movies.

“Annette Bening is obviously and not surprisingly amazing in the movie. She’s the best. It’s probably one of the highlights of my career working with her.”
– Kristen Wiig, June 2013 (The Guardian)

During the filming, Wiig also made time to promote her long-time-coming passion project Girl Most Likely (called Imogene at the time) at the Toronto International Film Festival. It premiered to mixed reviews, though all critics raved Kristen’s performance as being one of the saving parts of the film. Girl Most Likely is the story of Imogene Duncan, a failed New York playwright who awkwardly navigates the transition from being “Next Big Thing” to “Last Year’s News.” After staging a suicide in an attempt to win back her ex, she winds up in the custody of her gambling-addict mother in New Jersey. She starred with one of her favorite actors (Annette Bening), Darren Criss, Matt Dillon and Christopher Fitzgerald. It premiered in a limited release on July 19, 2013.

After doing a skit with Will Ferrell during the 2013 Golden Globe Awards (with over 6 million views on YouTube!), it was announced that she would join Ferrell and the cast of Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy in the highly anticipated sequel. “I can’t really tell you much about Anchorman 2. It’s a bit of a tight-lipped operation over there. I play Steve Carell’s… well, someone he meets that he fancies. 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.'” The sequel, called Anchorman: The Legend Continues (naturally), is set to premiere on December 20, 2013.

The new projects didn’t stop there – in the spring of 2013 Kristen appeared as Young Lucille Bluth in flashbacks in the fourth season of Arrested Development. “Tt’s nerve-racking when you’re going into a show that you’ve been a fan of. It was like showing up on the set of Anchorman: you think, ‘I know all these characters, I’m coming into their world.’ You have to do a good job.” Obviously, she did, and received praise from critics and viewers alike. At the same time, it was announced that Kristen would star in Will Ferrell’s IFC series The Spoils of Babylon, which chronicles the sexy and dramatic lives of the Morehouse family, led by Jonas Morehouse (Tim Robbins), his daughter Cynthia (Kristen Wiig) and her adopted brother Devon (Tobey Maguire) who made their fortune in the oil business. The show, presented in six parts, will premiere in early 2014. Kristen will also star in Welcome to Me (produced by, you guessed it, Will Ferrell), the story about a woman with dissociative personality disorder who wins the lottery and decides to spend her winnings on a cable access talk show about her life. The film is set to start filming in August 2013.

“Kristen Wiig is a writer, she can invent characters and stories, and she has a touch that translates. It’s her game to play.”
– Sean Penn, March 2012 (Vogue)

There has been a lot of talk about a sequel to Bridesmaids, but Kristen Wiig has stated numerous times that she won’t be involved with it. “When something does well at the box office, people assume that there’s going to be a second one, so when you don’t, it doesn’t make sense to them. But I approach things in my career a different way, and creatively, it’s just not something I’m interested in doing. That’s kind of it, and should be it.” Annie Mumolo and Kristen are, however, writing another comedy together – and Kristen is working on a script of her own, with plans for a directorial debut as well. Whatever she decides to do next, Kristen sure has come a long way since her first acting role as a munchkin in a school production of The Wizard of Oz, wouldn’t you say?

Last updated on July 27, 2013. Information gathered from various interviews and articles.