Kristen Wiig had just emerged from her first screening of Masterminds when she spoke with Yahoo Movies about the upcoming comedy, directed by Jared Hess (Napoleon Dynamite). (You can exclusively see the first full trailer above.) Perhaps a good sign: Wiig was in a noticeably cheerful and giggly mood.
Also starring Zach Galifianakis, Owen Wilson, and Jason Sudeikis — with appearances from Wiig’s Ghostbusters teammates (and current SNL stars) Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones — Masterminds is based on a real heist that happened in the late 1990s. The Loomis Fargo Robbery in North Carolina — also known as the Hillbilly Heist — was the second largest cash theft on U.S. soil at the time. It’s also arguably the funniest one in history as it was filled with comical missteps by a group of mostly rookie criminals. Wiig plays the main architect of the crime, Kelly Campbell, who persuaded armored car driver David Ghantt [Galifianakis] to drive off with $17.3 million. The main reason he did it: He had a crush on her.
During our interview, Wiig offered her take on Masterminds, some brief intel on the Ghostbusters she-quel, and her other major movies in the pipeline, including Zoolander 2:
The trailers for all these movies of yours have all come out in the past month: The Diary of a Teenage Girl, The Martian, and now Masterminds. How does it feel to own the multiplex?
I feel very lucky. It’s funny when they all come out around the same time because you shoot them so far apart. You have no idea when they’re going to come out. Everyone says, “Wow, you’ve done a lot of movies,” and I’m, like, “No! I shot them all at very different times.”
You’re pretty much this summer’s trailer prom queen.
And then I’m going to go away for seven years and no one will know where I am.
No, please, don’t!
What drew you to Masterminds?
Many things. One being the script, and Jared Hess who I’ve been a fan of forever — Napoleon Dynamite. He’s just one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. The cast — Zach and Owen. Yeah, I was on board from the beginning.
Unless they’ve committed more crimes, the 1997 Loomis Fargo Robbers are all out of prison now. Did you happen to meet the woman you play, Kelly Campbell?
No, I didn’t get to meet her! I met David [Ghantt, played by Galifianakis]. He was on set a lot and the biggest sweetheart.
How did David feel about it? There’s clearly a lot of humor at his expense.
[Laughing] He definitely has a sense of humor about himself. It sounds so funny — this is the first interview I’ve done talking about him. I’m fully aware people know him as someone who created this heist and stole a bunch of money, and here I’m talking about him, saying, “He’s such a nice guy!”
How much really happened and how much is embellished for the sake of comedy?
I don’t know the exact percentage. I know it’s definitely based on these [real-life] characters and what happened. But, of course, it’s a comedy and it’s Jared. His style is very specific. We wanted to make a good movie.
Is there any part of the movie that really happened, but is so outlandish that audiences might think it was made up?
The whole story, really [laughing]. David [Galifianakis] was celebrating when one of the security cameras was still on. I’m 90 percent sure that actually happened.
What do you remember as being a particularly fun day on set?
There’s a scene where we’re in a diner, when I’m first telling David [Galifianakis] the plan, and Steve [Owen Wilson] is sitting in the booth behind me. There was a lot of funny improvising that Zach was doing with roses and talking about what comes out if you cut your… boob [laughs]. He was making me laugh so hard. Gosh, it’s so hard to pick one. We all just had the best time working on this movie in Asheville, North Carolina. It was honestly one of the most fun times I’ve ever had.
Clearly these people weren’t terribly bright. According to Wikipedia, one of the other conspirators got caught because she said to a bank teller: “How much can I deposit before you have to report it to the feds?… Don’t worry, it is not drug money.” Did that part make it into the movie?
[Laughing] No, it didn’t actually.
How did you go about portraying this character who clearly lacks a certain awareness?
In talking to Jared and how he wanted her to be portrayed. Of course trying to keep things from the real person. Ultimately the script was so funny and the character its own thing and so well rounded — Jared and I just figured out how we wanted her to be. She has to be so charming and sweet that this guy will create this crime just because he likes her. At the same time she’s asking him to do something she knows may get him in trouble, but we still have to like her. We had to figure out that line between how sweet she is and how manipulating she is.
What was your first reaction after seeing the finished movie?
I just saw it [today], actually. I’m really excited about it. Everyone’s so funny. The costumes are their own separate movie — they’re so funny, they’re so good.
What were your favorite '90s fashions?
Oh god. The '90s are the best! So many things I tried on I wanted to keep. They’re supposed to be, kind of, joke outfits, and I was, like, “I actually kind of like this high-waisted acid wash skirt. I might want to borrow this [laughs].” I like everything from the '90s except I don’t love a Ked on me. I love Keds but I don’t think I can rock those.
You’re working on some well-known movie brands for next year — Zoolander 2 and Ghostbusters. Can you tell us anything about either of those roles?
Nope [laughs]. Those are the only two things I’m not allowed to talk about. I don’t mean to sound so dramatic. They want to keep things under wraps until later.
You play a media relations director for NASA in The Martian. What was it like being on a Ridley Scott movie, and with Matt Damon?! That represents a whole new level in your career.
Yeah. Though I hate to burst your bubble: I didn’t actually work with Matt. We were on two separate planets. They actually filmed stuff on Mars [joking]. I was so excited he was in it and then realizing I wasn’t going to see him — it just isn’t fair. Being in a Ridley Scott movie, the sets were crazy — it was a dream come true. We shot in Budapest and it was really fun.
Can you say anything about the film you plan on directing this year, written with your Bridesmaids writing partner Annie Mumolo?
I can say it’s a comedy and we’re hoping to shoot this spring. I’m really excited about it.
Masterminds hits theaters Aug. 19.