Kristen Wiig’s new raunchy and ruckus comedy Bridesmaids opened to an “impressive $24.4 million start” this weekend. If you weren’t one of the moviegoers who had the pleasure of seeing this film, take a moment to read our official review of Bridesmaids.
If you have seen the film, or are still making up your mind, we offer a window into the experience of making this fresh and funny comedy experience. Behold the following, wherein the cast and creators of the Bridesmaids discuss being rejected by Kermit the Frog, the hilarious “line-o-ramas” you can look forward to seeing in the DVD features, and the comically absurd fantasy sequence that never made it off the page (and we’re not even talking about the Vegas sequence we discussed in our interview with co-writer Annie Mumolo).
As we discussed in our Boys of Bridesmaids piece, we had the chance to speak with the cast and creators of Bridesmaids during select roundtable interviews at the Los Angeles press day for the film. The talent present included: Producer Judd Apatow; director Paul Feig; co-writer/star Kristen Wiig (Annie, the maid-of-honor) ; co-writer Annie Mumolo; and cast-members Maya Rudolph (Lillian, the Bride), Rose Byrne (Helen, the usurper), Ellie Kemper (Becca, the newlywed), Wendi McLendon-Covey (the harassed wife and mother-of-three boys), and Melissa McCarthy (Megan, the eccentric sister-in-law).
Bridesmaids was born out of a desire that producer Judd Apatow had to work with Kristen Wiig in a deeper capacity, after she completely knocked it out of the ballpark with her performance as “Jill” (the passive aggressive co-worker that we all love to…well, love) in Knocked Up.
Wiig “immediately called Annie (Mumolo)” when Apatow approached her with the suggestion that she write her own film. Mumolo, who had been a bridesmaid several times over the course of two years was (in part) drawing from the well of personal experience with her work on the script.
Take a look at the Bridesmaids trailer below for a snapshot of at all that can go awry in the chaos that precedes nuptials, and then hear from the Bridesmaids team on how to avoid said chaos in your own life.
The Team’s Advice On Surviving Pre-Wedded Bliss
When the filmmakers were asked what advice they would give to real wedding party participants in the hopes of achieving a drama-free affair.
Maya Rudolph laughingly quipped, “I love that people think that were professionals now.”
Mumolo covered the practical with, “Hold on to your pocketbooks.”
Kristen Wiig addressed the emotional stress with, “If aren’t getting along with bridesmaids, don’t tell the bride.”
Paul Feig (half) jokingly gave the male perspectiveing saying, “For guys: marry a woman who has already been divorced because she won’t care as much about the wedding — that’s what I did.”
Wendi McLendon-Covey provided the sage advice that all interested parties, “State their boundaries by saying, ‘This is what I am willing to do, this is what I am willing to spend, and if that’s not going to work, lets forget it and keep the friendship.’” She went on to say that she feels the reason that things become so heightened and intense around a wedding is due to the fact that, “The stress of putting on the biggest party your ever gonna throw, and starting your new life does not go that well together.” As far as the members of the wedding party are concerned, Covey feels that it is natural to have some feelings of resentment: “If your life is falling apart and you’re asked to be a bridesmaid, you’re looking at your friend thinking ‘my life is falling apart, and look at all her new kitchen stuff.’”
The women in the cast also ultimately sense that some people are simply better-suited to put together a spectacular bash without incident.
“I’m so opposite of character (little Miss Perfect herself, Helen),” Rose Byrne mused. “I couldn’t throw a party to save my life. My idea of a nightmare is having more than one person over my house – I draw the line at one.”
Is Working With A Cast Of Women Like Living a Soap Opera?
In the film, the women experience deep conflict with one another, but their working relationships on-set were harmonious and thoroughly supportive. Director Paul Feig recalled that:
“It’s this terrible thing that happens, but going into this people were like, ‘Oh get ready, your gonna be working with a bunch of women…'(laughing) I think they thought it was going to be like “Knots Landing” or something. But they were so supportive, and it was just a joy to watch them work for me. Especially when Kristen and Maya would be just hanging out around waiting for us to set up a shot, I would kind of listen and be like, ‘do that funny voice that you were just doing!’ Because they have this language, and putting all that in front of the camera was so much fun.”
Feig continued by saying that part of what drew him to the project was the opportunity to depict women, and their humor, as he has experienced them in his own life.
“I know so many funny women, have been such a huge fan of Kristen’s, and growing up I knew so many women that were hilarious; and I wondered why I wasn’t seeing that reflected up on screen. It’s like why do they always have to be the long suffering girlfriend…?”
“Or the crazy neighbor?” Wiig chimed in.
“My favorite is like the guy who has to save the world and the wife is like ‘you’re never home for the kids’ like boooo her.” Feig continued.
Melissa McCarthy agreed that it is rare to see, “Six fully developed (female) characters. Six women is usually like, ‘your the biach, your the crazy one, and it just doesn’t go beyond that. It stays in that shallow end of the pool. So, (this) was crazy fun.”
“No one is worried about being the butt of the joke,” McLendon-Covey added. “It’s like, ‘please let me be the butt of the joke – are we going to do something ugly? is this going to be embarrassing and gross? All right, what time should I be there?’ There was no overlap with characters, so no one is worried about getting in their zingers in because no one can say what your character would say.”
As to what the characters would say, with a team of some of the world’s most talented and adept improvisational actors, there is nearly two extra films’ worth of material that has been cut from the theatrical release. The first full cut of the movie was three hours in length. Ultimately, story and character always took precedence over a funny bit or joke.
As such, Feig explained that the DVD features, will reveal just “how brilliant these women really are,” with a series of “linoramas” that highlight the level of improvisational comedy these women are operating at.
“Wendi is so funny that when you see her stuff strung together…” Feig laughed to himself in appriciation and continued, “There’s this run about how bad her house smells, it’s some of the funniest stuff I’ve ever seen in my life.”
Take a look at the clip of Covey below to get a sense of what she was able to bring to the character.
Apatow feels that it is only when the cast comes together that “the magic really happens,” in the script and story. Each of these women developed and refined their characters in partnership with the writers, directors and producers with weeks of rehearsals, improvisations and additions to the script.
As to magical casting, this film represents the last onscreen appearance for legendary actress Jill Clayburgh, who delighted the team when she agreed to come on board as Wiig’s well-intentioned but deeply eccentric mother.
“She was so maternal with everyone at set,” Wiig relayed. “We were so honored that she was a part of it.”
Feig recalled her character really coming off the page when Clayburgh came in for an improve session and they began to understand how she fit into the world of the film. “We said okay, ‘she gives weird advice,’” Feig recalled, “and she was so excited to do comedy. We wrote some of the most ridiculous sexual things for her to be saying and Kristen would be like ‘I can’t believe you were having her say this’ and she (Clayburgh) would just be like, ‘OH I love it!”
One of Clayburgh’s character’s peculiarities is her affection for creating truly frightening art of celebrities.
Securing the clearances from the stars on said art presented somewhat of a unique challenge. Apatow recalled, “I just remember getting a note that said, ‘Morgan Freeman will clear it if John Travolta will clear it.’”
Wiig added “I also think we got a no from Kermit the Frog.”
“Ahhh… I remember being super bummed when we didn’t get Kermit,” Mumolo added.
“Yeah,” Feig finished laughing, “Kermit the Frog declines.”
Directing The Madness:
Apatow had an, “Instinct that Paul (Feig) would be able to do the big comedy, and the intimate moments, and make it all real. Because the thing that was always most important to him on “Freaks and Geeks” (the show they created together) was that it just had to be completely accurate to real behavior.” The producer paused and added, “Then it’s just about how can you get big and keep it organic.”
So how big did it get in the script?
Wiig and Mumolo could not help but incite an uproarious laughing fit as they recalled some of their more outlandish notions in the writing process. The ladies may have indulged in one too many late-night lattes when they thought to add a random dead body to one of the final scenes in the film. Towards the end of the movie Lillian (temporarily) goes missing. In one version of the script, Wiig and Mumolo had her placed “in the bell tower” because everyone is “always in the bell tower.” In their quest to retrieve the wayward bride, the girls came across a dead body, and upon discovering that it was not Lillian, chose to simply to walk over it and ignore it in the face of the significance of the impending marriage. In addition to that Family Guy-esque moment of random humor, there was a musical number, and the fantasy sequence that this reporter secretly wishes had made it onto the screen:
“I tried on a dress that I really really liked,” Wiig relayed. “And then I had this fantasy about a party where all these men were fighting over me. And then I ran into the woods, and it was Christian Bale chopping wood without a shirt on, and I had to hide because everyone was coming and (to help her hide) he said (what is now this writer’s favorite unproduced line in history) ‘Quick, get into my muscles.’”
Amidst roaring laughter, Mumolo explained:
“I think what happened was that we would get really loopy because we would have deadlines so we would write for like twenty hours and then by the end everything would be hilarious to us, we would be like…”
“Judd is gonna love this!” Wiig jumped in.
“And I remember at a table read,” Mumolo continued, “Judd would be like, ‘was there a change in tone?’ he was trying to be nice and he would be like, ‘like around act three was there a change in tone?’”
Wiig finished by saying, “It’s like the most polite way of saying ‘what-is-happeneing-here?’”
What happened, eventually, was the creation of an appealing, relatable, hysterically funny film that takes all the “rules” of the “girl-wedding-film” and turns them right on their head so that something brand new, and deeply entertaining, was born.
Bridesmaids is in theaters now.