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[Sundance Interview] Actress Rebel Wilson Talks ‘Bachelorette’ vs. ‘Bridesmaids’

Written by , on January 26, 2012 at 11:00 am 

One of the films coming out of Sundance this year that is sure to have mainstream appeal is Leslye Headland’s Bachelorette. On paper there is no denying the connection between last year’s box office hit and 2012′s soon-to-be hit but the two films couldn’t be more different. Rebel Wilson, a blossoming comedic talent from Australia, stars in both films and breaks down the differences, along with discussing her staggering six up-coming films to be released this year. Check out the interview below where she kicks off with her thoughts on the premiere and read my review here.

Rebel Wilson: It has huge laughs, but then, especially in the more serious bits, everyone was really listening around me.

The Film Stage: That’s what I found so impressive about the movie, is the way it balances the comedy with the sensitive issues, and like, Leslye’s writing is so smart about that.

And when you read the script, like when I read the script when I was going to audition, I was like, “it really does.” I wouldn’t even call it a comedy when I read the script.”

Right, no. More like a dark comedy, but it’s amazing how it balances itself out. I was really impressed by that. I know you’re from Australia originally and you were doing some TV stuff there. Did you do some film work there?

I actually did two films. I did a short thing in Ghost Rider, which was an American film but it’s filmed in Australia, and I did an Australian film called Fat Pizza, which was very popular for an Australian comedy. But mainly TV. Most of the comedy talent works in TV because we don’t really have a comedy feature film industry.

And you have a big TV industry.

Yeah, most of all the cool writer-performers work in TV in Australia. So I’d done like 13 different shows.

So Bridesmaids, was that the big first cross-over project?

Yeah, that was my first big role in America.

And how did you land that?

When I first came to America on the back of a TV show that I’d written and produced in Australia. Industry people saw it so I thought maybe now’s the right time to come over. And then they send you out on a little parade of meetings that last 2 years on the networks [laughs], and one of them was an audition for Bridesmaids. And I went in for the Melissa McCarthy role, and I went in and I improvised for Paul Feig and Judd Apatow for an hour, with Kristen Wiig.

And I’d just seen her on Saturday Night Live and I’m like “Argh!” I’m sitting next to her, prepared from the script but they’re like, “no, we just wanna see what you’re made of.” I mean talk about pressure! [laughs] If I didn’t do well in that, there’s no way I would of got in. I think they were always gonna give the part to Melissa, but they were seeing who else is out there, and they liked my audition so much that they added me into the movie.

How would describe the major differences between working on Bridesmaids and then coming to work on Bachelorette?

It was really different styles, like on Bridesmaids. We did 15-minute takes on film, which is obviously very expensive. 90% improvised – the scenes. We had kind of a rough idea about what we had to do in the scene, and then we’d just go for it. And they’d really just keep it rolling and see, that’s how you get that really naturalistic performance style. Whereas in Bachelorette, Leslye’s script had such a clear way of the characters talking, and because it was so low-budget, we only did 2 or 3 takes, so you really had to nail it.

There wasn’t much wiggle room for the improv, as much?

There was a little bit, but like I love the opening scene because there was some improv in that, but the way Leslye’s style of writing was so distinctive, we kind of all were staying true to that.

Leslye comes from a theatrical background. How was her direction in terms of giving actors guidance, compared to other filmmakers and people you’ve worked with?

I was on the first day- the very first day – and you did notice that maybe she hadn’t done this before. I mean, of course, you’d probably be nervous on your first day, and we were doing that scene in the car, when we’re going to the wedding.

That was the first scene you shot?

Yeah. [laughs] And then she just got that first day out of the way and I was nervous as well because it was my first day on the movie. And then she was just so awesome directing the shot,  looking at the composition, coming up with things – if sometimes her lines didn’t quite work then she’d come up with another line to say and was so quick. And because the schedule was so tight, we were often working until 3am or 5am to get scenes done. And she’s just like…incredible! It was like she’d been doing this for 20 years.

Have you seen the play beforehand, or have you seen it since?

No, I asked to see it because usually there’s recording of theatre, for archival purposes. But they wouldn’t let me see it because they said they didn’t want me to play it how whoever played the bride in the play did.

Since now it’s done, are you interested in seeing it?

I’m very curious. Yeah, I’m very curious.

How do you think audiences are going to react compared to – I hate to always bring up – but the Bridesmaids comparison, because it’s inevitable.

I know, ‘cause they’re similar titles and-

But they’re two very different films I think. How do you think people are going to react to this compared to the reaction that Bridesmaids had?

I hope that because of the success of Bridesmaids, it will bring a bigger audience to Bachelorette than what Bachelorette would have had if Bridesmaids had never existed. So it’ll bring more people through the door, but if they’re expecting Bridesmaids 2, it’s just a totally different thing in tone. I think Bridesmaids is a lot more colorful and it has kind of a cuteness to it, to the comedy. Whereas this has a real dark, nasty edge to it, which is very New York I think.

Yeah, I think that’s why I really liked it so much. You’ve been working on a few other projects, do you wanna talk about some of them?

Yeah, I’ve got six movies coming out.

Wow, that’s amazing! Was all that off the heels of Bridesmaids?

Yeah, like I couldn’t have fit in more work if I tried, last year. [laughs]

[laughs] Well, that’s awesome.

Yeah I know, because you come to America and you never know how it’s gonna go. And even though I was extremely well known and praised in Australia, who knew? Maybe Americans wouldn’t take to my comedy.  I’m really excited about Pitch Perfect, that’s a musical I just did with a Broadway director called Jason Moore, and it’s really funny, and so different. There’s another indie I did called Struck by Lightning, which I think people will be shocked about how good that is. It’s written by Chris Colfer, who is on Glee. It’s really good, really dramatic. And What to Expect When You’re Expecting, which is like a big ensemble studio movie. And I have Ice Age 4.

That’s so cool!

[laughs] I was just there the other day doing some final touches on that. And I’m in this pirate gang, with J-Lo and Nicki Minaj. It’s awesome. [laughs] And I’m so excited to see what happens with this.

I think it’s gonna do really well. I think if the right studio gets it, they’ll know how to market it right and then…

And I think they cut some of the edgy stuff out at the screening last night.

That’s interesting. Could some of that maybe make its way back in?

Yeah, I wanna see those deleted scenes.

Follow our complete Sundance 2012 Film Festival coverage.


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