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Gloss Interview: Wendi McLendon-Covey

Bridesmaids hits the shelves at your local DVD store this week and the Gloss team was lucky enough to catch up with two of the films stars,  Wendi McLendon-Covey  (Rita) and Ellie Kemper (Becca), for a chat about the movie.

Q. Can you explain a little about your characters and maybe what drew you to them or what you liked about them?

Ellie Kemper: My character Becca is a newlywed who just loves mentioning that fact and talking about her husband. She is a little deluded, and by “little”, I mean totally!

She has a very idealistic view of marriage which I don’t think is going to lead to a lifetime of happiness, either in regards to her marriage, her career, or friends or family.

What do I like about her is that I appreciate she wants to think the best of people. I do think that she believes that the path to happiness is through being very tame. I don’t mean a marriage has to be wild but to be in a very restrictive marriage could be bad.

Wendi McLendon-Covey: Becca [Kemper] wants children very badly and that is not going to happen, because they are not…

Ellie Kemper:
They are not actually doing it.

Wendi McLendon-Covey:
…they are too busy showering and singing hymns. Rita [McLendon-Covey] is a mother of three brats, and she’s kind of a brat herself so I don’t think she understands that she’s leading by example.

She’s the oldest bridesmaid, the cousin of the bride, and she needs a bachelorette party to get her through the rest of her marriage – she’s really putting a lot of hope on that.

She’s got a perfectly nice husband but she’s not happy with him; she’s been with him a while, she’s seen it, she’s done it and she wants something else. What she needs to do is work on her own self but no, it’s much better to complain to your friends so that’s what she does! She takes poor Becca [Kemper] under her wing and says, “Hey, that’s not normal – what you are doing is really weird. I’m not saying you need to be doing what I’m doing, because that’s weird too…”

Ellie Kemper: It’s not fulfilling.

Q. I did really enjoy the scene on the plane where you are mentoring her, but being slightly bitter as well. Was that fun to shoot?

Ellie Kemper: Totally fun.

Wendi McLendon-Covey: It was. And it went off in so many other different directions – I have such fond memories of that scene….that big, explosive ending to the scene.

Ellie Kemper: The kiss, that’s what was nerve-wracking for me…

Wendi McLendon-Covey: For both of us.

Ellie Kemper: …because you want it to play right.

Wendi McLendon-Covey: We didn’t want it to be like, now it’s turned into some sort of dirty, fantasy thing. We wanted it to be like awkward and stupid and regrettable. We wanted everybody to say, “Ewww. They did that.” Not, “Ooh, where’s this going?” We wanted it to be also very final, like, “Well, we did that and that was too much, and now we have to sit on the plane and not talk to each other.” We wanted it to be cringeworthy.

Q. Did you enjoy that how it was written, and from the improvisation you did, the script is true to the way women really talk, a little bit crude, more realistic?

Ellie Kemper:
Yeah, a lot more realistic, exactly. I’m so happy that that was the case, that it wasn’t just full of puns or stuff.

Wendi McLendon-Covey: And the ladies seem to like it. We get a lot of compliments from women saying, “Thank you! Yes, that is how I talk with my girlfriends.”

Q. You had some of the most cringeworthy lines about your three boys – “cracking blankets” and things.

Wendi McLendon-Covey: Yes, about their habits, their sticky habits that they might have.

Q. Was there any line you had where you thought, “I can’t believe I have to say this?”

Wendi McLendon-Covey: Yeah, and you will see this on the DVD extras for sure. I had to say: “After three kids, I look like I’ve got a fanny pack down here. I’ve got a flesh fanny pack and it’s just hanging down. Honestly, it looks like a tennis skirt, I’m so embarrassed.” She just goes on this run of how ugly she thinks she is and goes, “I’ve got this big blue vein that runs this way, and bite marks over here, and one of my boobs is bigger than the other…” She just keeps going and going and going, one of those ‘too much information’ ladies where you’re saying, “Hi, what was your name again? Now that you’ve told me about every scar on your body, should we introduce ourselves?” She’s one of those.

Q. You can’t have much vanity as a comedic actress, but we have to talk about the food poisoning scene: how was that to shoot?

Wendi McLendon-Covey: It was hard to keep our pinkies in the air the way we did!

Ellie Kemper: Yeah, exactly. It was hard to remain ‘ladies’. I ran in at the end, so I didn’t have to spend as much time over a toilet as you did.

Wendi McLendon-Covey: She only had to throw up in my hair a couple of times. I had to do it from different angles.

Ellie Kemper: I swear that toilet did smell. You’re being nice but it did smell.

Wendi McLendon-Covey: I have blocked it out. But at least it was prompted by the fact that we had eaten some bad food – it wasn’t just about doing it because it was funny or shocking. There was a reason for it and the humiliation of Annie [Wiig] for getting us sick, and all of us trying to act like we’re not sick until the very last minute, and all that damage that you cause to an all-white, perfect dress.

Q. What does the fake sick taste like?

Ellie Kemper: Okay, maybe I’m gross, but I thought it was good. It was sweet and oatmeal-y. I had M&Ms in mine.

Wendi McLendon-Covey: Mine was just oatmeal and water and food colouring, so it tasted a bit like the morning.

Ellie Kemper: All day long.

Wendi McLendon-Covey: Very wholesome and full of fibre. And I would do it again.

Q. Can you talk about working with director and producer, Paul Feig and Judd Apatow? What did they bring to the set?

Ellie Kemper: I love Freaks and Geeks, so being able to work directly with those people was incredible and they were so encouraging, so supportive. I was never scared of them – I feel like sometimes I am scared of the director – but it was such a nice, open and communicative relationship.

Wendi McLendon-Covey:
They were so encouraging. They were like, “Here’s my email, when you have ideas please send them to me. I don’t care how many times you email.” The whole time I’m thinking, “I’m talking to Judd Apatow. I’m talking to Judd Apatow. Judd Apatow is right in front of me. Paul Feig. Oh my God. Is my make-up on?” I was just having a geek-out moment.

Q. Can you talk about working with Kristen [Wiig] too? This is finally her first big lead that we’ve all been waiting for.

Ellie Kemper:
Kristin is somebody without vanity, without ego. She is so funny, talented, smart, and kind. I can’t imagine how much is going through her head and she always, always had time for everyone.

Wendi McLendon-Covey:
She is a funny lady but she let us all have our moments, which is very generous of her as an actress.