This summer, producer JUDD APATOW (Knocked Up, The 40-Year-Old Virgin) and director PAUL FEIG (creator of television's Freaks and Geeks) invite you to experience what happens when best friends forever meet the wildest Bridesmaids ever.
KRISTEN WIIG (TV's Saturday Night Live) leads the cast as Annie, a maid of honor whose life unravels as she leads her closest friend, Lillian (MAYA RUDOLPH of Away We Go), and a group of colorful bridesmaids--Helen (ROSE BYRNE of TV's Damages), Rita (WENDI MCLENDON-COVEY of TV's Reno 911!), Becca (ELLIE KEMPER of TV's The Office) and Megan (MELISSA MCCARTHY of TV's Mike & Molly)--on a wild ride down the road to matrimony.
Annie's life keeps coming up short. But when she discovers her lifetime best friend is engaged, she simply must serve as Lillian's maid of honor. Though lovelorn and broke, Annie dives into all of the required rituals as she gets to know the other ladies in the bridal party, including one particular rival (Helen) who is perfectly poised to fulfill all the duties that Annie struggles through. As she brings Lillian's bridesmaids along on an escalating series of disasters, Annie realizes the person who knows her the best has introduced her to four strangers who will shake up her life for good.
Groundlings to Bridesmaids: Production Begins
Longtime friends Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo met years ago at The Groundlings, the Los Angeles-based improv troupe where they wrote sketches with one another. Wiig recalls: "Annie and I went through the company around the same time, and we found each other to write together. We've always written so smoothly that there's never any ego, and we've never fought over anything to be in or out of a script. It's a great creative relationship where we respect each other. She's one of my best friends."
After her breakout cameo role in producer Judd Apatow's second film, Knocked Up, the popular Saturday Night Live actress was asked to try her hand at another side of filmmaking. Apatow appreciated her unique comedy style and wanted to see what else she was capable of onscreen. Wiig explains: "I was approached by Judd to write a script, so I called Annie and asked if she wanted to do it with me. She had this idea that she had talked about before, and said, 'Let's write it out.'"
Apatow discusses his involvement in the project: "Every time we do a movie, I always think, 'Who stole some of their scenes? Could any of these people star in their own movie?' After Knocked Up, I thought Kristen deserved to be the lead of a movie. I asked her if she had any ideas and she came back to me with this idea about bridesmaids she'd worked on with her friend Annie Mumolo."
Mumolo says that she and Wiig share a no-holds-barred style of comedy: "The first day we wrote together at The Groundlings, Kristen and I bonded, and we had great success. Not only did we always have so much fun there, we were to able to get a lot of material in and worked together often."
Mumolo and Wiig began writing the script in 2006 after Wiig had been on SNL for about a year. Says Mumolo: "I had this story about how I had been a bridesmaid a number of times, and I was disgruntled about it. I was very much a delinquent bridesmaid, so we started writing about my adventures with these different girls." When it came time for their big chance, Mumolo remembers that it happened very suddenly: "After Knocked Up, Kristen asked me to go in and pitch Judd. She said, 'Just go in and tell him what the movie is about.' I had never pitched anything before, and I didn't even realize that was what pitching was, but I went in and told him the basics of the story."
Over the next several years of the film's development, Mumolo and Wiig honed their script with Apatow so it wouldn't read as anything close to "another weddingthemed movie." Wiig says that it was important to differentiate this film as one that is not simply a romantic comedy about a girl who's in a wedding or a bride in a love story.
She relates, "Bridesmaids focuses on something that a lot of women can relate to: the people who are in the wedding. We wanted to tell the real story of what it's like to be in one and what you're expected to do. It's a lot, and it's kind of a pain in the ass."
When they considered source material from which to draw, they didn't have to go far. Wiig laughs: "Annie's been in weddings and gone to showers, and her stories sound like they came out of a movie. She was in a wedding in which she couldn't afford to go to the bachelorette party because it was a crazy trip. She got an e-mail that read, 'It's going to be $2,500 a person, and everyone chip in.' Her response was, 'What? How did this happen? How do I have to spend all this money and time?'"
Mumolo agrees with her collaborator that the humor of their story comes from the relatable conversations and situations leading up to the big day…with a bit of embellishment. Their aim was not to make a treacly rom-com about trying to land a man, but rather a ballsy comedy that celebrated how real women interacted with one another.
Mumolo says, "We wanted a movie without the frill. We wanted to tell the story of what our experiences were like--the down and dirty, gritty version of bridesmaids, where not everyone's hair is perfect and everyone looks good and has cute stories. We learned as we went, and Judd guided us. He has a commitment to being original, and he doesn't stop until he finds it."
When the search began for the director of Bridesmaids, Wiig remembers that one of the first names discussed was Paul Feig. She reflects: "Judd mentioned him, and we met to discuss. Paul cast me in my very first movie role in Unaccompanied Minors as a slutty mom. After meeting with him, I called Judd and I said, 'Yes, yes, yes!' Not only is Paul incredibly talented and hilarious and has such a good mind for comedy, he's also incredibly patient and collaborative. All the girls loved him to death. I can't imagine anybody else as our director."
In addition to his work with Wiig, the director had partnered with Apatow on a project that was one of the defining moments of both of their careers, Freaks and Geeks, the classic TV show created by Feig and executive produced by Apatow. Feig shares: "Throughout the years, Judd and I have kept in touch and wanted to figure out a project to do together again. Bridesmaids came to me several years ago. Judd invited me to a table read of Kristen and Annie's original script, and I thought it was very funny. I was very interested."
Friends since their days at the University of Southern California in the late '80s, Feig and Apatow have a shorthand with their comedy. The producer commends of Feig's directing style: "Paul is really good at keeping the scenes grounded, but also allowing them to be funny. That sounds not that complicated, but is the most complicated thing in the world. How can you continue to care for these people while finding opportunities for them to do things that are tear-down-the-house hilarious? At the same time, those things can't make you believe these people don't exist."
It would be a few more years before the opportunity to revisit Bridesmaids came around for the director, producers and the cast. "In the beginning of 2010, I was in New York shooting commercials," recalls Feig, "and I got a call from my agents. I got on the phone with Judd, and within two minutes I was committed to the project and it was set in motion. It's been a whirlwind since."
Feig adds that his primary interest in the script was due to its honesty and relatability that blended well with dirty humor. He says: "I've always been interested in doing more female-based stories. I enjoy these stories and the emotions and the comedy that can be had in them. It's exciting to bring Judd's style of humor to a movie about women and still make it honest and real. We've explored themes that women can relate to while guys will also find it hilarious. What we wanted to capture was women talking like women do behind the scenes where guys aren't privy to it."
Accompanying Apatow in production duties were frequent collaborators Barry Mendel, with whom Apatow worked on Funny People, and Clayton Townsend, whose working relationship with the producer extends back to their time together on The 40-Year-Old Virgin.
Mendel, who had recently worked with Wiig on Whip It, shared the team's desire to explore a new take on a comedy subgenre that is often seen as trite. He offers: "The aspects of planning a wedding are very coordinated, and Kristen and Annie wrote about how women sometimes get carried away when planning them. There are a lot of movies that deal with people getting engaged and getting married, but they can feel very lightweight, and the emotions can seem manipulative or not that lifelike. They're entertaining and diverting and fair enough, but our question was 'Is this movie going to be one of them, or could it be another type of film entirely?' Now that we are on the other side, I can say that we actually did it."
Female Fight Club:Casting the Comedy
We are introduced to the women of Bridesmaids through Annie, a thirtysomething jewelry-store employee who can't seem to get her life in order. She's lost her bakery, boyfriend and hope for a perfect future and has just found out that her best friend is getting married and moving on. Feig notes: "It's a very elegant story of one person pulling her life together. There's such humanity about Kristen. She has the ability that few comedy performers have: she can play real and small as well as big and crazy. Yet she always grounds the bigness and the craziness in reality. My theory on comedy is that you can go as big as you want, but it has to come from a real place. She brings all that weird humanity to this role, and she's able to summon up vulnerability at the same time that she is holding it together." Read more
Follow Her Lead: Improv on the Set
With five actresses and a writer who have a background in improvisational training, it was a given that the Bridesmaids production would marry script with this comedy style of on-site discovery. Mumolo explains that this process began well before production. Recalling their early meetings with Apatow, she says: "We would improvise for hours, and Judd would film us. Then we would go over what we taped and then work that into the script. We followed his lead. Additionally, during the movie, we were rewriting it on its feet, feeding jokes and sculpting." Read more
The Bridal Shower
Though Annie is the maid of honor, Helen is determined to host the most overthe-top, garish bridal shower anyone has seen at her Tudor revival mansion. As the team created the design, they wanted to bring forth the best bad ideas from their collective experiences at these types of events. Feig says: "The shower was a big set-piece scene with a lot of people in a big location. It was a great arena for Kristen to go crazy with her physical comedy. We just turned Kristen loose and put two cameras on her." Read more
When Lillian expresses to Annie that she's afraid Helen may have gone way over the top for her wedding, Annie is the first to console her. Too late, as it's going to be a whopper. Feig says, "The wedding was fun to shoot because it was one of Helen's overthe-top productions. It was important to pull off the main wedding itself in one shot that reveals more and more as we go out." Read more
ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS
PAUL FEIG (Directed by/Executive Producer) is a three-time Emmy-nominated writer/director and a DGA Award-winning director. A graduate of the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts, Feig was a winner of the school's Jack Oakie Memorial Award for Comedy in Film in 1984. After film school, Feig worked as a script reader for producer Michael Phillips (Taxi Driver) until he went on The $25,000 Pyramid and won $29,000 ("I always was an overachiever," jokes Feig). The winnings allowed Feig to leave his job and pursue his long-time dream of being a professional stand-up comedian.
His stand-up career soon led to a successful career as a character actor in which he appeared as a series regular on the television series Dirty Dancing, Good Sports, The Jackie Thomas Show, The Louie Show and Sabrina, the Teenage Witch. He also appeared in such films as Paul Maslansky's Ski Patrol, Disney's Heavy Weights and Tom Hanks' That Thing You Do!
It was only after being abruptly written out of the series Sabrina, the Teenage Witch that Feig began to sour on the actor's life. This drove him to write, produce and direct his first independent feature film, Life Sold Separately. It played on the festival circuit and was ultimately chosen by Movieline to tour college campuses across the United States.
While out on tour with his film, Feig wrote a spec pilot script for a television series about a high school set in the 1980s called Freaks and Geeks, which he then sold to DreamWorks Television through his longtime friend, producer Judd Apatow. NBC ended up making 18 episodes of the show and Feig served as the show's creator and coexecutive producer. Feig was nominated for two comedy-writing Emmy Awards--one for the pilot episode and one for the series finale, which he also directed. The series continues to be a top-selling DVD set and has recently begun re-airing on IFC.
After the cancellation of Freaks and Geeks, Feig went on to write and direct the film I Am David, which was based on the Danish book of the same name by Anne Holm.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees sponsored the film. The organization called it one of the most accurate depictions of a refugee child they had seen on film. The film stars James Caviezel and Joan Plowright and is the uplifting story about an 11-year-old boy in 1952, who escapes from a Bulgarian labor camp and makes his way across Europe in search of his family and identity. The film went on to win the Audience Award at the Austin Film Festival, a Crystal Heart Award from the Heartland Film Festival and Best Picture awards at the San Diego Film Festival and the Kansas City FilmFest.
Feig's third feature was the Warner Bros. family comedy Unaccompanied Minors, which was based on an episode of This American Life. The film stars Wilmer Valderrama, Lewis Black and Tyler James Williams. The film was nominated for a Taurus World Stunt Award and received the 2006 Parents Television Council Seal of Approval.
Feig has also directed multiple episodes of the television series Arrested Development, The Office, Nurse Jackie, Bored to Death and Weeds, as well as episodes of 30 Rock and Mad Men. He also served as a co-executive producer on both The Office and Nurse Jackie. In 2008, Feig's work on The Office earned him an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series for the hour-long episode "Goodbye, Toby" and, in January of 2009, he won the DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in a Comedy Series for the episode titled "Dinner Party."
In addition to his film and television work, Feig is the author of two comedic memoirs released by Random House--"Kick Me: Adventures in Adolescence" and "Superstud, Or How I Became a 24-Year-Old Virgin." The latter book became New York Times and Los Angeles Times best sellers. He is also the author of two young-adult science-fiction novels--"Ignatius MacFarland: Frequenaut!" and "Ignatius MacFarland 2: Frequency Freak-out!"--both published by Little Brown Books for Young Readers.
He also has a short story, "My Parents Give My Bedroom to a Biker," from the young adult humor collection "Guys Read: Funny Business" published by Walden Media and Harper Collins.
ANNIE MUMOLO (Written by/Co-Producer) is an alumnus of the Los Angelesbased improv/sketch comedy troupe The Groundlings, whose celebrated roster of graduates include Will Ferrell, Lisa Kudrow, Maya Rudolph, Phil Hartman and her writing partner, Kristen Wiig.
Mumolo is currently developing an untitled comedy feature film with Mandate Pictures and was a staff writer on ABC's In the Motherhood.
As an actor, Mumolo has appeared in the 2005 feature film Bewitched and television shows such as Two and a Half Men, Out of Practice and In the Motherhood.
She also appeared in the ABC pilots Bad Mother's Handbook and This Might Hurt. She voices regular roles on Curious George and Handy Manny and has lent her voice to several animated shows including American Dad!, Father of the Pride and Maya & Miguel.
THE ART OF ORIGINAL FILMMAKING
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