Don’t let those posters and lazy critics’ quotes fool you—Bridesmaids isn’t the female version of The Hangover. For starters, it’s much more streamlined than the 2009 record-breaking, R-rated comedy, but most importantly Bridesmaids isn’t all buffoonery and little complexity like Zach Galifianakis’ breakout hit. Starring, and co-written by, Saturday Night Live standout Kristen Wiig, the surprisingly raunchy all-female comedy (in theaters today) is just as intelligent as it is hilarious.
Joining Wiig in Bridesmaids is an ensemble of equally on-point funny women. While co-stars Rose Byrne and Maya Rudolph might get all of the mainstream love, we’re most fond of our favorite redhead hottie, Ellie Kemper. In the movie, the comedy writer turned actress, most known for her role as receptionist Erin on NBC’s The Office, plays Becca, the bubbly and chaste member of the soon-to-be-married Rudolph’s titular bridesmaids. And, unsurprisingly, she totally owns every one of her scenes.
Between her first major movie’s premiere and all of the hoopla engulfing The Office in light of Steve Carell’s much ballyhooed exit, Kemper’s on-the-rise career is, like the woman herself, red-hot. Hoping to catch some of the heat, Complex recently chatted with Kemper about the misconceptions surrounding Bridesmaids, the intricacies of handling poop on film, the future of her faux music group, Subtle Sexuality, and how she embarrassed herself during Steve Carell’s last day on set.
Complex: Congratulations on your first big, mainstream Hollywood movie. Do you have any pre-release nerves?
Ellie Kemper: You know what? I’m actually not nervous, because all of the nerve-wracking parts are over, thankfully. I’m completely excited at this point. The nerve-wracking parts, for me at least, all came while we were shooting the movie, because I was totally afraid of messing everything up. [Laughs.] I’m a pretty paranoid person, so my worry throughout was to not destroy it somehow.
Well, rest assured—you didn’t ruin the movie at all.
Ellie Kemper: That’s very nice of you, and feel free to expand upon that. [Laughs.] But I’m pretty sure that I messed up a couple of times. But the other nerve-wracking part is that once you’re done shooting a movie, you don’t know if your part will actually make it into the final movie or if you’re cut out. But my part stayed in! So I’m very excited.
Once you saw yourself on the poster, you must’ve thought, “I guess I made it into the movie!”
Ellie Kemper: [Laughs.] Yeah, that pretty much confirmed it.
I’m glad you brought up the concerns over your parts making it into the movie. At about the halfway point in Bridesmaids, your character falls back a bit, which was actually pretty disappointing.
Ellie Kemper: Was it? That’s so sweet. [Laughs.]
Hey, what can I say—you’re a funny gal. Did you film any more scenes that didn’t make it into the movie?
I’m not mad or anything. The scene changes the story between our two characters a little bit, but I’ll let you see for yourself whenever it gets released, because I know you and the rest of the world will be so anxious to see how their story turns out. [Laughs.] I’m totally happy with how the movie turned out, though, so it’s all great to me.
Interesting, because the last we see of your interactions with Rita, the two of you are making out—talk about a tease.
Ellie Kemper: [Laughs.] You’re hoping that their “relationship” will develop further, huh?
Now that you’ve said it, I wouldn’t be mad at that in the least.
Ellie Kemper: Once again, that’s so sweet of you. [Laughs.]
Let’s go back to the beginning—how’d you first get involved with Bridesmaids? Was it through the director, Paul Feig, and his experience with The Office?
Ellie Kemper: It was a combination of things. Yeah, Paul Feig is a producer and director on The Office, so I knew him from that, and then Allison Jones does casting for The Office, and she also did the casting for this movie. So I went in to audition, and it helped my nerves a whole lot that I knew them already. And then I met Kristen [Wiig] at the audition; we read together, and then shortly after that I got the part. I guess you can say it was a relatively painless audition process. I’m pretty lucky in that sense.
Pretty much all of the press surrounding the movie focuses on how it’s being called “the female Hangover,” and how there aren’t many, if any, female-driven comedies out there of this caliber. Was that something that struck you when you first read the script?
Ellie Kemper: Yeah, I do think that a female ensemble comedy is not something that you see very often. Certainly not recently—I can’t think of too many that have been entirely comprised of women. There are female leads in comedies, of course, but that was what was so cool about the script to me. It’s not about a woman pursuing a man, and it’s not a romantic comedy in the, I guess I’ll use the word “traditional,” sense. It really was more about the relationships between the women themselves.
Kristen and Annie [Mumolo] wrote it, and it was written in such a way that seemed to reflect how women actually talk and interact with each other. So I thought that was very cool, because I don’t see too many movies these days that feel like they were written to reflect the truths about women.
Is that frustrating for you, to have to watch so many movies that try to mimic how women really act and fail at that?
Ellie Kemper: Yeah, kind of. I understand the entertainment factor with those movies. But I love the fact that Bridesmaids doesn’t shy away from the fact that women are honest, and, yes, often times gross. [Laughs.] Just how they actually behave.
Yeah, I like to go and see romantic comedies, and quote-unquote “chick flicks.” I do like those, so I won’t shy away from the fact that I enjoy those kinds of movies. But this is a cool take on it, I think.