The sun may be shining in New York, but it’s the wee hours of the morning in Sydney when we finally get to chat to Kristen Wiig. 4.23am to be exact – around the time a bachelorette party would end. Friendly, polite and even a bit shy, Kristen is a sharp contrast to her over-the-top Saturday Night Live characters. Since joining SNL in 2005, she’s starred in a bunch of films (Knocked Up, Whip It and Paul), but Bridesmaids sees her co-write and produce as well. Off camera, she doesn’t give too much away. We found out about her career, her love of melted cheese sandwiches and discovered that she spent most of her life wishing she was Olivia Newton-John. Didn’t we all.
What are you up to today?
Doing press and then off to work [SNL]. We have a show this week and Sir Elton John is hosting, so I’m very excited about it. I’ve met him once briefly, very briefly. I don’t know if he’ll remember me but everyone’s really freaking out.
Who have been some of your favourite SNL hosts?
Oh my gosh, I get that question all the time, it’s so hard because I’ll think of one person and before I say their name I’ll think of someone else. Honestly, every host is so different it’s like a new ride every week and I think that’s what makes the show so exciting, because you never know how a certain actor or actress is going to be.
How did you get involved with SNL?
I was studying at The Groundlings, which is a sketch improv company in Los Angeles, and my manager wanted to send in a tape. I was really nervous about it. We sent the tape in and I ended up getting an audition and it just kind of happened that way.
How do you get your ideas for skits?
It depends, usually you just sit in a room with a couple of writers and joke around and start thinking of ideas and end up settling on something and writing it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. I find writing the sketches the most fun as you get to sit there and laugh and joke and everyone contributes something. It’s a really fun process.
Did you always know you wanted to be a comedian?
I think I did always know I wanted to do some sort of acting. I never thought it would happen and I just ended up getting my start in comedy, but hopefully I’d like to do dramatic stuff as well.
Were you in lots of school plays?
No, not at all. I think I was a munchkin in The Wizard of Oz and in Anything Goes. I never had a part that had any lines.
Do you find that comedy’s a bit of a boys’ club?
I’ve never really experienced that so I don’t think I have anything to compare it to. I’d never classify SNL as a boys club at all, it’s very collaborative.
How did you originally meet Judd Apatow?
I did a part in Knocked Up and that’s when I met him. I auditioned with Seth Rogen and I met him the day I showed up to shoot.
But you guys have stayed friends?
After I did that part he asked me to write a movie for him. We’ve been friends for five years.
Do you show him your scripts to get advice?
For Bridesmaids, for sure. With him being the producer he had so much good input and ideas, he added to the script. The movie definitely wouldn’t be what it is now without him.
There’s an Aussie contingent with Rebel Wilson and Rose Byrne, had you met them before filming?
I hadn’t. I’d seen Rose in Damages and Get Him To The Greek, which she is so funny in. And Rebel, I saw some of her stuff after we hired her. Her audition was just, oh my gosh, she came in and improvised and we were like, “Who is this person?” She’s so hysterical, unique and funny and special. I have a special place in my heart for her, I just love her.
Did you guys have a bonding activity before you started filming?
We did all go out. Not because we had to but because we wanted to. Annie [Bridesmaids co-writer] and I rented a party bus for all the ladies and filled it with alcohol and music and went to a male strip club. It was more a fun, dumb thing to do and we all just laughed our arses off and screamed and had the best time.
How do you find media attention now?
You have to take it with a grain of salt. I learned early on not to pay attention to what people are saying as far as the gossip part of it goes. It is a little bit of a transition to go from no one knowing who you are and then people recognising you.
Do you feel pressure to look a certain way?
I don’t really feel pressure. I dress how I want to dress and sometimes I have to stop myself before I leave the apartment because I’ll just throw on sweats and a hat to get coffee and my boyfriend is like, “Ah, I can’t be with, like, a crazy person”. But he would do that even before because sometimes I’d just throw things on that don’t even match and go outside.
What’s your next?
I’m producing a movie that we’re trying to get financed, called Imagining. It’s more pressure but very exciting.