The movie “Bridesmaids” is being hailed by critics as a welcome antidote to sappy female-oriented comedies. The raunchy film stars Kristen Wiig (who co-wrote the “Bridesmaids” screenplay) as an insecure but loyal woman named Annie, who is asked to be the maid of honor at the wedding of her best friend, Lillian (played by Maya Rudolph). Annie and Lillian have been friends since childhood, but their close relationship is threatened by a rich competitive new pal of Lillian’s named Helen (played by Rose Byrne), who is the trophy wife of the boss of Lillian’s fiancé.
With Helen lavishing expensive gifts and wedding plans on Lillian, financially strapped Annie feels she must prove her worth to Lillian and the rest of the bridesmaids, which include Helen; masculine and assertive Megan (played by Melissa McCarthy), who is the sister of Lillian’s fiancé; cynical Rita (played by Wendi McLendon-Covey), Lillian’s cousin who is feeling overwhelmed by her child-rearing responsibilities; and naïve Becca (played by Ellie Kemper), a co-worker of Lillian’s with a sweet disposition. Here is what Wiig, Rudolph, Byrne, McCarthy, McLendon-Covey and Kemper said when they sat down for these interviews at the Los Angeles press junket for “Bridesmaids.”
Interview with Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph
Kristen, what was your intent when you wrote “Bridesmaids,” in terms of what you wanted to bring across and the tone of the film?
Wiig: I don’t know if style of comedy was on our minds. Annie [Mumolo, co-writer of “Bridesmaids”] wrote a lot of sketches at the Groundlings. I think we do have a tone that we write just naturally. We didn’t really set out to have a certain style or tone, but it just kind of came out.
Rudolph: Your voice is very prominent in it. For me to read it for the first time and to know her voice, it’s in there.
Wiig: I so can’t answer that question! [She laughs.]
Rudolph: It’s like when you’re looking at yourself in the mirror, and you make that mirror face.
Maya, how was it playing the best friend of Kristen Wiig’s character when you two are close friends in real life?
Rudolph: It’s very exciting to know that you’re going to work not just with your friends but with people you really love working with that you have so much awe and respect for, but also you know you’re going to have a great rapport with. And there’s a lot of crossover, from [fellow Groundlings alumni] Melissa [McCarthy] and Wendi [McClendon-Covey] too. It was really a lucky thing to be asked to be a part of. There were so many wonderful things set in place.
The friendship, to me, was the easy part. The hard part to me was Lillian has to be this grounded person bringing all of these different characters together, these completely different personalities. It’s sort of a real high-pressure job. You know in a situation where you’re the host: “Oh, meet this friend from this part of my life, and this friend from this other part of my life. I hope they like each other.” It can be so awkward. And it’s also hard to remain true to one personality and not be two-faced.
Why is it best to see “Bridesmaids” in a movie theater?
Wiig: I prefer seeing comedies with a group of people, because I think you do miss certain things if you’re sitting home by yourself watching a comedy. Maybe if you hear someone laugh at something that maybe you didn’t quite understand, maybe two seconds later, you get it. Laughter is infectious.
Rudolph: Isn’t it?
Wiig: It really is. Laughter is an infection that you have to get …
Rudolph: Skinned …
Wiig: With a group. Comedies are best enjoyed in a group.
Would you rank “Bridesmaids” as one of the most fun filmmaking experiences you’ve ever had?
Wiig: Yes. Hands down. Absolutely. And a lot of that is because of Judd [Apatow, a producer of “Bridesmaids”] and Paul [Feig, the director of “Bridesmaids”] and the cast. Paul really — people always say this about directors — set the tone. He really did. He’s the sweetest. I can’t describe Paul in five words or less.
Rudolph: It was such a great combination to the entire ensemble. He was the perfect match.
Wiig: And he had the most amazing shoes on.
Rudolph: French water boots.
Interview with Rose Byrne and Melissa McCarthy
Rose, can you talk about playing Helen as a sympathetic “villain”?
Byrne: Paul Feig definitely didn’t want her to be too arch and too unreachable — the cliché bitchy character. We tried hard to give her some more dimension. And I think at the end, she gets a nice moment in the car, where she has this huge confessional. And really, I think she’s as dysfunctional as Annie.
I have a Helen in my life. I have many Helens in my life, because there are women who are competitive and who are insecure and who have that sort of glazed look about them. It was good. It was a real challenge for me, because she’s quite different than I am. She’s a real doer. She looks like she gets up early, does a lot of emailing.
McCarthy: I feel like Helen looks exactly like that when she gets out of bed. Somewhere around 1 a.m., she re-does her hair and lies back down.
Melissa, can you talk about playing Megan, who is so different from the other women in the group?
McCarthy: Somebody said something to me [at the “Bridesmaids” Los Angeles premiere] like, “You’re lucky if you get one. You just had your one.” I’m like, “Am I dying tonight?” I’m not going to be killed at the end of the party, am I?” A character like that just doesn’t come around [that often].
He’s like, “It never comes around for women.” He’s like, “You’ll never get that again.” Well, I think I will. This movie’s going to change it. I think you never get to see an eccentric character — especially for a woman — that still has a heart and is so confident. And she was kind of the most solid in her shoes. She loves what she does for a living. She knows it. She wants a relationship. She has it.
And she kind of is the most at peace with herself. I think it’s interesting, because visually, you think, “This person: what the hell is going on?” And it turns out she might be the most sane among them. It was a really interesting thing. As with all of the [“Bridesmaids”] characters, none of them ended up being caricatures, which I think happens a lot of times.
Why should people see “Bridesmaids” in theaters instead of waiting to see it at home?
Byrne: It’s an event film, I think.
McCarthy: It is!
Byrne: It’s a thing to go to with a bunch of people on a Friday night.
McCarthy: It’s a rowdy film. There are big scenes. There are so many scenes that come up, where you’re just like, “What is happening?” You just want a lot of people around you. It makes a big difference.
Interview with Wendi McLendon-Covey and Ellie Kemper
What made you want to be a part of “Bridesmaids”?
Kemper: Knowing it was Kristen and Annie’s project. I didn’t know who else was going to be in it at that time … but that was the first draw. And the script actually had conversations that women really have.
McLendon-Covey: And I was at the first table read four-and-a-half years ago, when they first started writing it. And I knew Annie Mumolo, one of the writers, had just come off a string of weddings that year. And I swear, ever penny she made had to have gone to her wedding habit. And I thought, “Oh my God, this is going to be good,” because I knew what she had gone through.
And I read it, and I was like, “Someone got it right! Finally! They hit the nail on the head.” The movie has gone through so many different rewrites and whatever, but they still kept the basic premise of “I want to keep my friend.” It wasn’t a romantic comedy, necessarily, although there is romance in it. [Annie] wants to keep her friend — and that’s what keeps it from being a “chick flick.”
Ellie, how would you describe Becca?
Kemper: I think Becca is naïve but not dumb. I think she always wants to think the best of things, but also she has sort of a limited view, in terms of what a relationship can do and what it can actually it can do to act itself out. I wasn’t sure how the Rita/Becca relationship was going to play out. I’m really happy with how it did come out. It was good to get to know someone who could impart some wisdom or at least different kinds of thoughts.
Wendi, how would you describe Rita?
McLendon-Covey: Rita, when she first got married, I think she was Becca. I think she was very idealistic of “this is everything I ever wanted.” And now, 15 years down the line, she’s fed up with it. “This is it, huh? OK, I’m invisible in this house. I’m just the maid.”
Yes, she says horrible things about her children. And I lifted those lines from some women I was eavesdropping on. And I thought, “You talk about your kids like that? How awful! They hate you. I hate you. I don’t know you.” But it was fun to play.
Why should people see “Bridesmaids” in theaters instead of waiting to see it at home?
Kemper: I think everyone can relate to this experience. People have been through it. But also, more than weddings, it is just about relationships change as the circumstances change.
McLendon-Covey: Right. And feeling like you don’t have your life in order — and everyone else around you does. I think every person in the universe has felt that. So that’s a good message: “Don’t look at other people thinking that they’ve got it all together.”
Like the way the character Annie looks at us [bridesmaids]? We don’t have it together. We’re very dysfunctional. And I think, in the end, it’s OK. Don’t worry about it. It’s going to work itself out.
Kemper: [She says jokingly] Jon Hamm will come and help out.
McLendon-Covey: [She says jokingly] He will come and rescue you.
Kemper: [She says jokingly] He will. It all plays out.
For more info: “Bridesmaids” website
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