By Paulette Cohn
The men of The Hangover were so successful with their pre-wedding disaster comedy movie that they are coming back later this month with a sequel. But they better watch out because first here come the Bridesmaids, starring Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne, Ellie Kemper, Melissa McCarthy and Reno 911 seductress Wendi McLendon-Covey, for their own laugh fest.
The story begins when Annie (Wiig) is selected to be her best friend`s (Rudolph) maid of honor, but broke and dating a commitment-phobic guy (Jon Hamm), Annie tries to finagle her way through the expensive rituals with disastrous results. McLendon-Covey, who has walked down the aisle eight times as a bridesmaid in real life, plays Rita, the jaded one in the oddball group of wedding attendants.
Wiig says, “We wrote the part for Wendi when we first wrote the script several years ago. She`s someone that we`ve been in The Groundlings with for a long time, and we thought of this character as someone who is outspoken, fun loving, and doesn`t care what people think about her. She`s married and she`s always complaining about it, but deep down she`s happy at home. Wendi is such an amazing improviser that it was a gift every time she opened her mouth.”
Now, we talk to McLendon-Covey to get her take on playing Rita, but more importantly, to find out what she did with her eight bridesmaid dresses!
What was appealing about being a part of this film?
Wendi McLendon-Covey: I was at the first table read about 4-1/2 years ago when they first started writing it. I knew that Annie Mumolo, one of the writers, had just come off a string of weddings that year, and I swear, every penny she made had to have gone into her wedding habit. I thought, “Oh, my God. This is going to be good” because I knew what she had gone through. I read it and I was like, “Someone got it right.”
The movie has gone through so many different rewrites, but they still kept the basic premise: I want to keep my friend. It wasn`t a romantic comedy, necessarily, although there is romance in it, but she wants to keep her friend. I think that is what keeps it from being a chick flick.
What can you tell us about Rita?
Wendi McLendon-Covey: I think Rita when she first got married she was idealistic. “This is everything I ever wanted.” Now, 15 years down the line, she is fed up with it. “This is it? OK. I am invisible in this house. I am just the maid.” Yeah, she says horrible things about her children — and I lifted those lines directly from some women I was eavesdropping on — and I thought, “You talk about your kids like that? How awful. They hate you. I hate you.” But it was fun to play.
Do you have a funny, real-life bridesmaids story?
Wendi McLendon-Covey: I have been in eight weddings. Luckily, I haven`t had to do that in a long time. Someone always turns into a mad woman. Of course, not me. I was perfect when I was a bride. I was absolutely delightful.
No Bridezilla for you?
Wendi McLendon-Covey: No. Not me. Of course not.
I remember the first time I was maid of honor in a wedding. My friend who was getting married ” I think it is worth it to say that she married the guy that I went with to the prom in the ninth grade. Right after the prom, those two got together and have been inseparable ever since.
What about the girlfriend rule?
Wendi McLendon-Covey: We weren`t like boyfriend and girlfriend. We just went to the prom together. They are still going strong and celebrated their 19th anniversary this year, but they have been together since we were children. Anyway, she is a little scatterbrained. I love her to pieces, but she left a pile of papers that had Bible verses on them on my porch like two days before the wedding. All she said was, “From Judy.” She didn`t tell me what the pile of papers was, so I threw them in the trash. I thought, “OK. These are just some nice sentiments she wants me to remember.”
I get to the rehearsal and it comes time for me to do my reading, I had no idea I was doing a reading. That is why she gave me that pile of papers. I was like, “What are you talking about?” She said, “I left the scriptures on your porch.” I said, “You have to give me more instructions than that. I am not a mind reader.” It worked out. It was fine, but in addition, we were all completely embarrassed to be wearing this flaming purple dress with sleeves the size of our heads and dyed-to-match pumps.
Have you kept any of your bridesmaids dresses?
Wendi McLendon-Covey: It is so funny. Right before I got the part in Bridesmaids, I went on a cleaning spree and I threw everything out. I donated it all. But I actually got a lot of wear out of my bridesmaids dresses. I wore them as costumes. I always had the best costumes at The Groundlings [improv company] because I had these hideous dresses. I even wore my own wedding dress again. Sketch comedy is great for dragging out the old outfits. I am kind of sad that I threw them out. They take up so much space, though. They are made out of such horrible material, they change colors in the closet.
Off topic, I read in your bio that you went to the Middle East to perform for the troops. Was that scary?
Wendi McLendon-Covey: I have been there three times, and no, it wasn`t scary. It was more fun, I hate to say. It was entertaining for me. It was educational. I can`t say I ever felt scared except for the two times that we had to drive through the actual streets of Bagdad. But the rest of the time, I never felt we were in danger and we flew in helicopters ” Blackhawks ” and cargo planes and stuff like that. By the time I went in 2008, things had calmed down considerably. It wasn`t like The Hurt Locker. Had I gone a year prior to when I went, yes. The group that went the year before I went got fired on. But by the time I went, it had calmed down, which is not to say nothing happens over there anymore. It does. We always felt we were in good hands. It was just eye-opening and inspiring.