Bridesmaids Interview
Bridesmaids Interview
Billed as the female equivalent of male comdies such as The Hangover and 40 Year Old Virgin, Bridesmaids sees Kristen Wiig, who has recently had roles in the likes of Paul, Despicable Me, Date Night and Whip It, joining up with fellow comedy actors Chris O’Dowd, Rose Byrne and Melissa McCarthy as the 30 something singleton with a wedding to organise for her best friend. Here the cast and director Paul Feig spoke to View’s Matthew Turner about their attitude towards improvisation, the history of wedding comedies and why you shouldn’t give puppies as presents.

How much did Bridesmaids feel like a collaboration as opposed to being a vehicle for a star?

Kristen Wiig

Well, I think the collaboration started at the very beginning. We worked with Judd [Apatow] and Greg to write the script, and when Paul came along we worked with Paul. There was no telling someone what to do or you have to take this out. It was very collaborative. Paul is extremely generous. And when the cast came along, the same thing - we wanted them all to feel comfortable playing their characters and we encouraged improvising. Annie [Wiig's co-writer Annie Mumolo] and I didn't swear by every word in the script, we wanted people to feel comfortable, we have so many funny improvisers so we wanted to use them.
People sometimes improvise for the sake of improvising because they like the idea of improvising...
Can you tell us a little bit about the working process, do you start with a basic framework and then improvise certain scenes? Is the script a work in process right up until shooting starts?

Paul Feig

The script has to be a very strong blueprint for an emotional story as well as for the comedy. You know you are going in to improvise but never go into a scene, 'Hey, let's see what happens.' Here's what we need out of the scene, here's the scripted version that's great anyway, now you guys play with it and make it your own. What that does is it gets you away from what a lot of comedies have, especially romantic comedies, which is it's very scripted so it doesn't feel in the moment. Even if they're just tweaking the wording a little bit, it just feels like people having a conversation and they can surprise each other and then you get that energy.
How usual is that as a working process, would you say?

Kristen Wiig

I've never had that kind of freedom before as an actor to work like that

Paul Feig

It's a form that Judd started and brought to movies because it's what we used to play around with on television on Freaks and Geeks, then he started playing with it on Undeclared and other pilots he did, and then he really brought it into the movie world. It's one of the best ways to make movie comedy because there's a freshness and a surprise among the performers that goes into the audience.

Melissa McCarthy

Now having done it and not worked like it before it just seems like, 'Oh, how is everything not done like that?' It's pretty surprising. Just the freedom to be - all your energy goes into playing the character as opposed to, like, ‘Is it there is or there are?' I feel like all the energy goes to the right spot.
Chris do you find that, working in this country, have you encountered that working process?

Chris O’Dowd

No, not really. It's because Americans have so much more money. I'm being flippant in a way but the amount of time a bigger budget gives you does mean you can play an awful lot more. The IT Crowd we don't improvise at all, really. Very, very rarely. To be fair we do have a whole week's rehearsal and then shoot it all in one night, so you've got every idea already out on the floor.

People sometimes improvise for the sake of improvising because they like the idea of improvising, whereas what they're actually doing is just taking away really good lines that were there in the first place. But what was great in this was that we got the script and we would do a little improv and Kristen is the best improvisor I've worked with, so it's kind of an amazing thing. And then we'd go back to the script and try and make it better using the bit of improv you've got, rather than it being an either or. And also the fluidity and the naturalism that you've got by doing in that way really gives a kind of a reality to it.
How do you manage to focus with all that competing energy on set, especially as many of your cast come from stand-up backgrounds?

Paul Feig

That's the great thing when you work with real comedy professionals - it has the illusion of chaos but it's not. It's like a dance, everyone knows what to do, everyone knows how to do timing, everyone knows when to back off, when to go forward. My job is just to stay out of the way and not interfere with that natural rhythm because there's nothing worse than a director that comes in and says, ‘Oh, try this, say this.' It throws it off and all I do is sit back and say, 'Oh, maybe try this,' kind of adjust the ship as it's going along. But it's much easier than it seems, if you have the right people.

Kristen Wiig

I think you have chaos when you have people with different goals but ultimately we all had the same goals ...
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Content updated: 19/02/2020 16:32

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