By: Anna Breslaw
Since I was the Ology representative to review Bridesmaids — and Christ on a cracker, did I love Bridesmaids — when I was given the chance to interview Wendi McLendon-Covey, who played miserable housewife Rita (“I cracked a blanket in half”), I almost lost it. Fortunately, I held it together long enough to get some bits and pieces on the DVD outtakes, her upcoming movie parts and stint on Rules Of Engagement, and… meat. Gross, dank meat. (You’ll see.)
Anna Breslaw: Were you on a comedy circuit before? Did you have contact through any of your co-stars and that’s how you joined the cast? How long had you been doing comedy before?
Wendi McLendon-Covey: I started out at the Groundling Theatre; like improv and sketch comedy. Through there I met Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo, who wrote Bridesmaids. And actually, ten years ago, I met Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, and Maya Rudolph at a wedding shower.
Oh, that’s so funny!
Isn’t that weird? And here we are! I never did stand up, or anything like that. I just did the sketch and improv thing. That’s where I met those girls. And they wrote a part with me in mind, but the movie was on and off for about five years. When they finally called me to audition for it, I was so thrilled because I never took it seriously; “Hey, we wrote this for you.” “Oh, you’re just being nice.” It’s just something that you say. I had to go in an read for it, and when we all went in to read, they gave us all the same material for it and it wasn’t part of the script, it was just some basic scene. They just wanted to see what we would all do for our characters; to see what would we bring to the table, and how would we improvise this. So I kept going in, and every time I went in, there would be someone more famous in the waiting room, and I’d think, “Well, I’m not going to get it, but that’s nice that they keep bringing me in. That’s very sweet, they don’t have to do that.” So, I was thrilled when I got the call. I couldn’t have been more thrilled.
Well, even before I had this interview, I thought you were the best part of this movie, honestly.
Oh, you’re so sweet! I’m sending you a pony. [laughs]
Was there someone who inspired your character, Rita? I kind of hate to ask that because she’s so, you know…
[laughs] Well, I watch a lot of the “Real Housewives” shows, and there’s something about those women that’s just so funny to me. Nothing’s really wrong, but that doesn’t mean you can’t bitch all the time. That’s kind of what I took from that. “We just got money,” she’s married to a wealthy orthodontist–he’s probably a very nice person–but she… it’s just so much more fun to be upset all the time. And what it really is, is she needs to go and get a job, or do something outside the house, except for shop online. She needs a reason to exist. And everybody knows somebody like her, “It’s meeee. Oh my gosh, my kids are driving me crazy.” Meantime, they’re not doing anything; they’re being perfectly quiet watching TV. So I took that, and I like to eavesdrop a lot, so I took some of her [Rita’s] stuff just directly from people I’ve eavesdropped on. The way some people talk about their kids, it’s just so shameful. Have some pride you know. No wonder your kids hate you.
[laughs] So, do you have any funny anecdotes from the set you’d wanna share, or what it was like to share the set with all those women? Anything silly?
Of course it sounds cliche to say we just had the best time, but I loved going to work. I loved going to work. Even when my call was at five in the morning, I would be up early and ready to see everybody. It was really, really fun. But I’ll say the most fun we had, or the most slap happy we got, was the scene where we went to the restaurant. We just had to keep eating meat, and keep eating meat, and we were just spitting meat into these buckets. It was disgusting. and Kristen’s a vegetarian. So we were just chewing this disgusting, oily, room-temperature meat for days at a time, and after a while, it’s like, “can’t I just eat a tomato? I just want to brush my teeth with Comet. I don’t want to have this gross feeling in my mouth anymore.” And we probably broke [character] more than we ever broke on that particular scene.
Well, all the bloopers are coming out online, and they’re going to be on the DVD. It’s so fun to watch. Even the bloopers are so fun.
And I know they didn’t even pick the bloopers I would have picked. There were so many good ones.
They should do a cast edit of bloopers.
Oh, I wish. I wish we could do that.
So all this “women aren’t funny” talk. I guess it’s sort of died down now, but do you think that was in the back of your minds when making the movie?
Didn’t even think about it. Didn’t even cross our minds at all. We just thought, “Oh this is funny. We’re having fun with our friends.” It felt really funny, but when we started doing press that’s when it came out, “What do you think about people saying women aren’t funny?” It’s like, “Really? That’s really a slap in the face to Lucille Ball, Mary Tyler Moore, Cloris Leachman.” There’s been plenty of funny women. There haven’t been a lot of very good “chick flicks” per se, but we weren’t even setting up to make that. And I think we all hate that term “chick flick.” I think if anything this movie has shown that, “Hey, you can get creative with your casting. We’ll respond. We don’t need to see the same five people in the same movies over and over again.” I think, in the end, funny is funny, and people are craving something original. And the proof of that is the fact that we stayed in the theaters for a long time. It wasn’t just “Oh, good opening weekend,” and you never hear from us again; it was pretty solid for a long time. That’s gotta be the benchmark of a movie’s success, not just their opening weekend. You’ve gotta look at the big picture, and this painted a very big picture of what you can do when you’re creative with your story, you’re creative with your casting, and you don’t just follow the formula.
Do you want to talk about your role on Rules of Engagement a little bit?
Sure, sure. I had a nice little recurring role last season–I did about 6 episodes last season–and in the final episode it was kind of a cliffhanger: what was going to happen with my sad sack cat lady character named Liz? She’s a completely mess: She’s lactose intolerant, and loves to talk about her different ailments at the dinner table. She’s just one of those, and then wonders why she doesn’t have a boyfriend. Anyway, she ends up on a cruise with David Spade’s character, and they kind of accidentally get married. Like you do. [laughs] So my character arc this season is, “What’s going to happen with these two crazy kids.” He [Spade] starts out wanting to really get out of it, and I start out loving every minute of it, then the tables sort of turn. Do we get divorced? Do we make it work? Do I keep living in the same apartment building as the other characters?
Well I just had one more question about Magic Mike. I don’t know if you’re allowed to talk about it.
It’s not that I’m not allowed to, but I don’t have a lot to say. I haven’t read the script, I haven’t been given the script. I’m just doing more of a cameo bit, not a huge part, but it’s going to be funny. That’s really all I’m equipped to say. I film Wednesday, so I hope I get the script before then!