Set Report: Keeping Up with the Bridesmaids

Set Report: Keeping Up with the Bridesmaids

Mar 03, 2011

There's really nothing quite like being a bridesmaid--an often pricey, chaotic, uncomfortable, irritating experience nearly every woman goes through at some point in her life. Now imagine you are SNL alum and bride-to-be Maya Rudolph and your bridesmaids are your SNL pal Kristen Wiig, Mike & Molly star Melissa McCarthy, The Office's Ellie Kemper, Damages actress Rose Byrne and Reno 911’s Wendi McLendon-Covey. That's some wedding party!

These funny ladies are all starring in the upcoming comedy Bridesmaids, from producer Judd Apatow, which centers on Wiig's character Annie, whose best pal Lillian (Rudolph) is getting married and asks Annie to be her maid of honor. Annie’s personal life is in shambles, but she finds a way to navigate through the expensive and bizarre ritual of helping her friend make it to the altar.

I got a chance to check out the Los Angeles set, and here’s what went down…

Setting the Scene

The lovely Sherwood Country Club nestled in the hills of Calabasas, was the setting for the all-important engagement party scene where Annie meets her fellow bridesmaids, including: McCarthy as Lillian's manly soon-to-be sister-in-law, Megan; Kemper as Lillian's sensitive co-worker, Becca; McLendon-Covey as Lillian's bored housewife friend, Rita; and Byrne as Lillian's new friend, Helen, who’s more like Miss Perfect.

I think what really struck me the most in watching Wiig and Rudolph play is how incredibly comfortable they were simply riffing off one another. The two real-life friends, who started their careers improvising at the L.A. Groundlings theater before moving on to Saturday Night Live, have an comedic ease that simply comes from knowing each other so well. They never did the same take twice, each time upping the ante just a little. Although I was watching from afar, I can only imagine how difficult it would be for director Paul Feig, who allowed his actresses free reign to improvise, to pick which take to print.

So who came up with all this hilarious stuff?

Meet the Groundling Gal Pals

Star Wiig partnered with another close Groundling friend, Annie Mumolo, to write Bridesmaids. Mumolo, who was pregnant, said the script was a real, er, labor of love, taking three years to make.

Kristen: Maybe even a little longer.
Annie: It was 2006 and we wrote it in six days, our first draft. We've been writing together for so long, but we'd never written a film before. I think we originally got the idea because I was in a series of like 20 weddings. I thought someone has to write about the real experience of what it's like to be a real bridesmaid.
Kristen: We turned it in six days later and they're like, 'Oh, you're done?’
Annie: We had a book, and it was like, by page 30, you should have THIS. So we'd say, 'What page are we on, 28? OK, OK, We've got two pages to get out of this...
Kristen: When we turned it in, I remember we had a dance party. Just the two of us. She was 8 months pregnant with her first child when we worked on the first draft. I became very close to that child because we've been working on THIS child. Both babies are part of this movie, that's funny.

Did Wiig find it a little nerve-wracking carrying a movie for the first time? “Totally. Because you have to find that character you want to play that makes sense and at the same time not make them too crazy where the audience is sick of you after a half hour. It's a different experience entirely. I'm the lead in the movie and just saying that is so crazy. I do feel pressure, because we wrote it and have such a voice in it and it is my first leading role. I guess there's a little fear mixed with excitement.”

Annie added, “She impresses me because she's in almost every scene, every SHOT,” to which Kristen replied, “Yeah, we didn't think of that when we wrote it. 50 days out of 50, I was like, 'Why didn't we write other things?'”

On Judd Apatow

Wiig said, “He's very open to seeing what works. This movie is about a girl's perspective of a wedding, it's a weird thing to be a part of. So when he read the script, he was like, 'Oh, I didn't know...' I think most guys would feel that way if they knew all the shit that goes on.”

Rudolph summed it up. “This movie feels like a mixture of real things and crazy things, which to me seems normal, if that makes sense. My sense of humor with my friends is a little stupid and weird and it does help that I know most of these ladies. I think ladies that have been through this rigamarole will see this as fresh. It's not the usual, 'Hey, let's get some ladies in a room and argue.' It's realistic BUT totally bananas.”

In the next Bridesmaids installment, meet the other actresses rounding out the cast!

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