IAR Press Conference Coverage: 'Bridesmaids'

Friday, 13 May 2011 12:31 Written by  Jami Philbrick
Rate this item
(0 votes)
IAR Press Conference Coverage: 'Bridesmaids'

Super-producer Judd Apatow (Superbad, Knocked Up, The 40-Year-Old-Virgin) has a reputation for discovering little-known but talented performers and helping them to become international movie stars. The list of actors that have benefited from working with Apatow is long and impressive and includes Will Ferrell, Steve Carell, Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Paul Rudd, Jason Segal, and Academy Award nominated actor James Franco. But now a new name can be added to that list… Kristen Wiig! The Saturday Night Live actress co-wrote and stars in Apatow’s latest producing effort the hilarious new film Bridesmaids, which opens in theaters on May 13th.

The film promises to be a female version of The Hangover and does not shy away from its hard R-rating. Wiig stars as Annie, a former baker who is down on her luck when her best friend Lillian (fellow SNL alum Maya Rudolph) gets engaged and asks her to be the maid of honor. The trouble begins when Annie is introduced to Lillian’s new friend Helen (Rose Byrne from Damages), who is perfect in almost every way and begins to compete with Annie for the coveted wedding position. In addition to Wiig, Rudolph, and Byrne, the film features an incredible cast of supporting actors that includes Ellie Kemper (The Office), Melissa McCarthy (Mike & Molly), Wendi McLendon-Covey (Reno 911!), Jon Hamm (Mad Men), Chris O’Dowd (Dinner For Schmucks), and Jill Clayburgh (Silver Streak).

I recently had a chance to attend a press conference for Bridesmaids, along with several other outlets, and speak with some of the cast and crew. In attendance were producer Judd Apatow, director Paul Feig (Arrested Development), and actresses Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Melissa McCarthy, and Rose Byrne. The filmmakers began by discussing how they came up with the title for the film. “It was called Maid of Honor, and then a friend of mine made a movie and called his movie that. He named his movie Made of Honor and outplayed me,” said Apatow. “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,” joked Wiig. “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,” added Feig.

Since most of the film’s actors are comedians with improvisational backgrounds, Wiig was asked if there was a lot of improvising done on the film. “We did a lot of improvising. We rehearsed for weeks before we started shooting, and did a lot of improvising there. 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 we let them go to town with what they do best,” explained Wiig. “That’s why a lot of the trailers you’ll watch have lots of jokes that aren’t in the movie,” added Feig. “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.”

In the movie, veteran actress Jill Clayburgh plays Wiigs mother, but unfortunately she passed away last November from leukemia before she had a chance to see the film. Since Bridesmaids will mark Clayburgh’s last on-screen appearance, Wiig and the filmmakers were asked what it was like to work with the actress on her final film. “I felt honored the moment she signed on to do it. She was just like 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 couldn’t believe I was making Jill Clayburgh talk about motor boating, which didn’t end up in the movie. She was amazing and I feel honored to have worked with her,” answered Wiig.

"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,” added Apatow. “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,” Apatow finished. “Yeah, we had no clue that she was sick,” said Feig. “One of my favorite moments is in the outtakes that will be on the DVD when Kristen said, I can’t believe that 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 and that it’s a special memory for me.”

The actresses were asked to discuss their craziest experience from their own weddings or a wedding that they may have attended in the past. “I am part of a crazy bachelorette party story that’s actually sad,” said Rudolph. “My girlfriend was getting married and we were going down to Baja. We had this whole trip to Mexico planned, and my girlfriend arranged the whole thing. She put in money for the place to stay and took care of the airplane, and everything. Then, my girlfriend, who was the bride-to-be, got so sick that she was on antibiotics and was instructed not to fly, but everything was already paid for, so we all had to go. So, we all went without her. She missed her bachelorette party,” she explained.

“Somebody ripped their pants open at my wedding, dipping my mother,” said McCarthy. “My mother is not a lady who throws herself into a dip that often, so I don’t think he thought she was really going to do it. She’s a very cute, quiet woman, and she had had a glass or two and threw herself into it. Somebody dipped her and ripped their pants out, so the rest of the night, somebody was busting a move with his panties out,” laughed McCarthy. “I haven’t really had any crazy wedding experiences,” answered Wiig. “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 twenties and early thirties, 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? So I can totally relate to that part of it.”

Next, Apatow discussed how he ends up choosing the projects that he works on. “A lot of times, it really starts with performers. Kristen and I had so much fun on Knocked Up and Walk Hard. It starts with, 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,” explained Apatow. “Having his name mean something to the public is that it allows us to not have to cast famous movie stars,” Feig said about working with Apatow. “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. He gets to launch people, like Kristen, who should be stars.”

Actress Rose Byrne revealed that the role of the seemingly perfect Helen was not the part that she originally auditioned for. “I originally went in for Lillian, Maya’s character. Then I asked if I could have a crack at Helen, so I auditioned for both. There was just something so delicious about her, on the page,” she explained. “Every time she came up, your skin would crawl. Personally, I have several Helens in my life that I’ve come across, so there was something so familiar about her and formidable. I asked if I could audition for her and they kindly said yes, so I feel lucky.”

Similar to the way that Zach Galifianakis became a star after The Hangover, most people agree that Bridesmaids is going to make Melissa McCarthy a household name. The actress has a breakout role in the film as Megan, the groom’s bull-in-a-China-shop sister who is unwillingly unleashed on the other bridesmaids. The actress had this to say about her role. “Megan appears one way, from the start. It’s like, oh God, it’s the crazy relative that I have to put in the wedding. But she’s probably the most together one out of all of them. She loves what she does, she’s good at it and she knows it. She has relationships with men when she wants them. She likes her life and makes no qualms about it,” explained McCarthy. “Most films wouldn’t have that full of a character. You’d get the crazy woman that’s like, she eats flowers, or she only eats crackers. There would be some bizarro thing and you wouldn’t learn about what she does, where she works, or what her family is like. They let us explore all of those things. I think it was such a nice balance to see that, even though she is so competent and she’s a force to be reckoned with, it comes from somewhere and she has a sensitive side too. I think it’s a really, really rare moment when you get to do a character that’s that fun, that interesting and that fully developed. I just hope that this movie is a game-changer for what women can do in comedy because I sure think it worked like a charm, with everybody in the film.”

Actress Maya Rudolph spoke about reuniting in the film with fellow SNL alumnus Kristen Wiig. “Yeah, it’s like getting the band back together. For me personally, Melissa and I actually go back further because we used to perform together at The Groundlings. I thought I had just met Kristen at SNL, but the first time I met Kristen was at a mutual friend’s bridal shower at Melissa’s house, way back when,” she explained. “When you know the people that you’re going in to play with, it’s the most fun. I knew that character was in Melissa, so seeing it, when I get to watch it, is like a delicious meal. You know what your friends can do. The best way to play with each other is when you’re improvising or you’re part of an ensemble, which is really what sketch comedy is all about. It’s about everybody’s ingredient making the best possible dish. We knew each other’s characters well enough that we could play with them and set each other up. Getting to play at work with your friends is quite a luxury.”

Finally, Wiig spoke about collaborating on the script with co-writer and friend Annie Mumolo. “I’ve known Annie for such a long time and we’ve written a lot together at The Groundlings. 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.”

Bridesmaids opens in theaters everywhere today!

More in this category

Follow ROGUE

Latest Trailers

view more »