Kristen Wiig is a Natural in Bridesmaids
This article appeared in The Patriot Ledger, published in May, 2011. Article by Al Alexander.
If there’s one thing Kristen Wiig knows, it’s outrageousness. Whether it’s her regular gig on “Saturday Night Live,” or her dozens of movies from “Knocked Up” to “Whip It,” Wiig generally can be counted upon to be, umm, out of her wig.
Her latest, the scatological laugh-fest “Bridesmaids,” is no different. It has everything a Farrelly Brothers’ flick has in the way of humiliations and bowel movements. But unlike the Farrellys, her movie is actually funny and charming, as is Wiig, whom I had the opportunity to sit down with during her recent visit to Boston.
Usually, it’s regarded as a backhanded compliment to say a woman is unconventionally beautiful, but with Wiig that’s not the case it all. As a friend of mine said, “I don’t know what it is about her, but, boy, is she hot!” Yes, to borrow a Farrelly phrase, there’s definitely something about Wiig that both men and women adore. But nobody can quite put their finger on just exactly what that is. But I proffer to say it’s her wicked sense of humor. Not to mention her unabashed willingness to always be the butt of every joke, as is the case with “Bridesmaids,” a virtual hope chest full of comedic gems courtesy of Wiig and her co-writer, Annie Mumolo.
Appropriately, the movie began with a proposal. “Judd Apatow asked me, ‘do you want to write something?’” Wiig said. “So I immediately called up Annie and we came up with the idea of a movie about how it really is to be in a wedding and how weddings can change friendships.”
That was four years ago, Wiig said, and after numerous rewrites and a couple of pregnancies courtesy of Mumolo, the union has finally produced an offspring that has made both of its mothers proud.
“It’s happening. It’s coming out. I still cannot believe there’s a poster with all of us. I mean …” Wiig said, fighting to contain her exuberance. “When you first start writing, you think, ‘this is never going to get made; you know, we’ve never written a movie before.’ Cut to this moment, right now, just being in Boston and talking to you, it’s like you have these moments where you go ‘Oh, my gosh, we actually did it.’ Yeah, it’s really crazy.”
So is Wiig, hilarious as a thirtysomething singleton with a crappy job, a crappy car and an even crappier personal life. All she really has is her best friend, Lillian (played by her real-life BFF, Maya Rudolph), who has chosen her to be the maid of honor for her impending nuptials. That, of course, entails helping the bride pick out dresses, find a venue for the reception and plan the shower, all tasks that Wiig’s Annie manages to screw up royally.
As you watch her make mess after mess, it’s hard not to compare Wiig’s performance to the great Lucille Ball, who turned well-intentioned disasters into an art form on “I Love Lucy.” When I float the comparison to Wiig, she reacts with her ever present humility. But she quickly cops to her love of physical comedy.
“I think it started with the Groundlings,” she said of L.A.’s famous improv comedy troupe, which also produced her “Bridesmaids” costars Wendi McLendon-Covey, Melissa McCarthy and Rudolph. “You’re in these sketches trying to create these characters on a large stage and it’s really fun to really just let yourself go. I really enjoy it.”
And her execution of such antics during a drunken rampage aboard a flight to Las Vegas for the bachelorette party is textbook Wiig, as she slurs and swerves through the aisles in a five-minute segment that would make Lucy proud. But the scene that will have everyone buzzing for months is set inside an immaculate, high-end bridal shop that quickly becomes a public restroom after the members of the wedding party pay the price for ingesting a tainted lunch at a greasy spoon. It’s a scene that out Farrellys the Farrellys.
“We just wrote a sequence we thought would be funny for both men and women to see,” Wiig said. “Actually, Judd and Paul (director Paul Feig) had the idea for that scene just to give my character one more thing to mess up.”
McLendon-Covey, who plays bridesmaid, Rita, said she believes the scene succeeds because there’s “nothing funnier than a woman not trying to do something.” Like six ladies trying to restrain bowels that are about to explode.
“It’s like a woman trying to stifle a belch,” McLendon-Covey said. “You know you might as well let it rip because you look even more stupid trying to act like you’re not doing it.”
Wiig admits she’s a little nervous about how her parents will react to that set piece when they catch the film’s premiere this week. Ditto for Wiig’s nude romp in the sack with hunky Jon Hamm, playing her part-time sex buddy.
“My parents are very excited,” Wiig said of the premiere. “They bought new clothes and they’ve been so patient with me probably not calling as much as I should while we were working on it.” But Wiig, 37, said she found a way to make amends by finding a part for her mother.
“She’s in the airplane scene,” Wiig said. “You see her reading a magazine, very intently. I told her, ‘just don’t look at the camera whatever you do.’ So, I don’t think she even looked up after they said ‘cut.’ She was terrified. She was pretty good. I don’t think she’ll try to audition for anything, but she’s a funny lady.”
So is her daughter, who despite her love of comedy is ready to move on to more dramatic roles like her strong supporting work in the 2010 murder mystery “All Good Things.”
“I want to do all sorts of films,” Wiig said. “I got my start in comedy, and I’ll always love comedy, but just because that’s what people know me for doesn’t mean that’s all I want to do. And ‘Whip It,’ especially, gave me the opportunity to do both comedy and drama.
“I’m looking for more opportunities to do that kind of thing. But it all comes down to the script. I would rather have a small part in a movie that I really loved than a big part in a movie that I’m not psyched about. To me, it’s all about the script and the director and if it’s something that feels creatively fulfilling to me.”
For now, though, her priorities remain with her day, err, night job on “SNL,” where she’s been a fan favorite for six seasons. It’s a gig that also allows her to rub elbows with a new guest host every week.
“Everyone who comes to host the show is stepping into unknown territory whether they’ve been in 50 films or one,” Wiig said. “They all show up and they are all using a muscle they either don’t use very often or never used before. So it’s really cool to see people come in and see what they can do with it.”
And in the case of recent guest host, Helen Mirren, that openness led to an unforgettable moment when Wiig put her lips to “the queen’s” chest and let loose with a sloppy wet motorboat.
“I want to have ‘I motorboated Helen Mirren’ printed on a T-shirt,” Wiig said with her infectious laugh. “I don’t know how many people will be able to wear them, though.”
When McLendon-Covey suggests that scene will be played during Wiig’s “death montage” at the Oscars, Wiig playfully replied, “Yeah, in really slow motion.”