A lot of people weren't expecting much from "Bridesmaids" when it opened this past May in the middle of a packed summer movie season. After all, how was a female-centered, R-rated comedy going to stand up against comic-book heroes and giant robots?
The answer, it turns out, was "Just fine, thank you." The movie opened strong and went on to become a word-of-mouth sensation, staying in the top ten at the box office for eight straight weeks. And with a domestic gross of nearly $170 million, "Bridesmaids" became the biggest moneymaker of producer Judd Apatow's career.
With "Bridesmaids" hitting DVD and Blu-ray on Tuesday, I got a chance to speak to the movie's star and co-writer Kristen Wiig about how she's still amazed by its success and which scene was the hardest for her to get through without laughing.
Matt McDaniel: At what point did you know that you had a monster hit on your hands?
Kristen Wiig: Gosh, that's such a hard question. I mean, when you go into these things you never know. You really never know. I think the DVD commentary we actually recorded the day before the movie came out. But I don't know, you spend all this time on something and you work really hard and then it's done, and you like send it out into the world.
I remember talking on the phone with Annie [Mumolo, her co-writer] the day that it opened and we were just like, "Oh my gosh, are people going to see it? Are people going to watch it? Like, what's going to happen?" Because it's either going to be out of the theater soon, or maybe people will like it. I mean, you have no idea. So it's hard to even say that I know it's a hit now. I know that sounds weird, but, I don't know, it's hard to explain. It's so shocking.
MM: I am correct that it's the most successful film that Judd Apatow has produced?
KW: I did read that.
MM: Are you calling up Seth Rogen and just shouting, "In your face?" Or giving Steve Carell a little ribbing?
KW: No, I mean, Judd is where he is for a reason, and our movie would not be what it is without him, so I owe that man a lot.
MM: So what did he bring to the mix?
KW: Well, first of all, if it wasn't for him I wouldn't have written the movie with Annie, because he is the one that started the whole thing by asking me to write something after I did "Knocked Up." He really guided us through the rewrite process, and at the same time, the first few drafts, he was like, "Go write, just write whatever you want. Send it to me, we will talk about it."
There were parts in the script that needed to be punched up and parts of the script that we realized we didn't need, and the full shaping of it is really Judd and Paul [Feig] too, the director.
MM: And you have just such an incredible cast. Did you know everyone going in and have an idea of what they were going to bring?
KW: I knew most everyone. I didn't know Chris O'Dowd, I mean, I met him at the audition, and I didn't know Ellie [Kemper] or Rose [Byrne], but yeah, first rehearsal and it was pretty much like we had all known each other for ten years.
MM: Now, obviously there are a lot of real vets at improvising, and then you have got someone like Rose, who is more known as a dramatic actress. How did she handle herself, and how did you help everyone who wasn't into improvising get into that mode?
KW: She is a natural. Afterwards she had kind of told me that she was a little nervous about it, because all of us had come from a background of improvising and sketch comedy and all of that, and you wouldn't have known it. I mean, I was shocked that she had never really done it before.
She is an incredibly funny person. A lot of people know her from "Damages," which is a much more serious show, but she is really, really funny, and she just took to it like she was just right out of the gate.
A lot of people that we hired did have a lot of improv experience, which was great for us because we wanted their input. And a lot of these people are really funny and we wanted them to be able to do what they wanted to do with the character. And the whole shooting process was so fun, because we shot the script, we let the actors be loose with the script, and then Paul would always say, "Dealer's choice," where you could just have a take where you can say whatever you want, which I think the actors liked doing.
MM: What was the hardest scene to get through without cracking?
KW: I would say two scenes; the whole plane sequence, and just the scene with Maya [Rudolph] and I… the one when we are in the restaurant, after we have snuck into the bootcamp cause.
MM: With the food in your teeth.
KW: Yeah, it was our first scene that we shot, and we were just trying to make each other to laugh and I think that kind of comes through a little bit in what they cut together. But we cracked up for most of the day.
MM: So on the DVD there are a lot of deleted and extended scenes, do you have a favorite moment that didn't make the final cut that you are glad people get to see now?
KW: Honestly, all of them. I mean, I wish we could have had all of them in there, it's so hard to pick. I mean, I loved the two date scenes with Paul Rudd and Brian Petsos. I love those scenes. But I mean, I can't even pick one. I wish they all could have been in there, but then it would have been like a seven-hour movie.
MM: Now, with all the improvisations and input from everybody else, how different is what's finally on screen to what you and Annie wrote?
KW: It's funny, because when people ask about the improvising in the movie, I think people assume that we just kind of like went in and didn't really know what the scene was going to be and then we all just started making stuff up.
I mean, the script is what it is and we had to follow the same storyline, so things couldn't change that much, but definitely certain lines or jokes. Like with Melissa [McCarthy] and Ben [Falcone] on the plane, when they are sitting next to each other, the air marshal stuff, a lot of that was improvised. I don't know the ratio, like what we wrote to what we have improvised.
MM: And are there thoughts about bringing everybody back together for another film?
KW: I get asked about it a lot [laughs], but we haven't -- nothing has been determined, so I will just say that.
MM: For you, what was it about the chemistry between everybody that you think made it work so well for audiences?
KW: I think we all genuinely like and respect each other and there was a vibe on the set without even really talking about it that just was giving the other person their chance to do their thing.
There was a lot of, "Oh, that was really funny what you did, you should do that again." And people wanting everyone to do well and to have their moment and, I think that created such a free, creative, fun set that I think that you can tell. And a lot of people say, "I can tell that you guys had fun," which to me is the biggest compliment.
"Bridesmaids" is available on DVD, Blu-ray and Digital Download on Tuesday.