Ever the bridesmaid, Kristen Wiig is still getting used to being the centre of attention. Speaking to Time Out from the set of Saturday Night Live in New York, she sounds more like a fan than a star. "We're writing right now for Saturday's show, our last of the season," she says. "We have Justin Timberlake and Lady Gaga! Very exciting."
Wiig has been part of the SNL ensemble since 2005, but if and when the 37-year-old writer/performer returns for a new season, the power balance will have shifted. Her film-starring debut, the Judd Apatow-produced Bridesmaids, has opened in the US to big business and universal raves. SNL has long been a petri dish for world famous movie jesters, and Wiig looks set to join the exalted ranks of Dan Aykroyd, Mike Myers, Will Ferrell and Tina Fey.
She plays Annie, a failed baker who feels mixed emotions when best friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph) asks her to be her maid of honour. "I think a lot of women can relate to that feeling of loss - being really good friends with someone, being single together, and all of a sudden they get in a relationship or get married," Wiig explains. To make matters worse, onto the scene strides Helen (Rose Byrne) - a new, rich friend of Lillian's who wants to hijack the wedding arrangements. "Annie starts to spiral. In a comedic way, but she spirals nonetheless."
It might sound like typical chick-flick fare but Bridesmaids, directed by Paul Feig (The Office) is a hilariously raw portrayal of female insecurity and the ugly underside of the wedding veil. The film takes broadsides at nuptial excess and turns a dress-fitting scene into an orgy of vomiting and worse. At the centre of it all is an unforgettable sad-sack heroine whose humiliation grows exponentially.
When we first meet Annie she's having an "adult sleepover" with a sleazebag (Jon Hamm) who's clearly exploiting her - but that doesn't stop her getting up early, reapplying her makeup, and sneaking back to bed before he wakes. "We wanted to show her bad judgement at the beginning of the movie, and show she doesn't think she's worth it," Wiig says.
Wiig was born in smalltown New York State and majored in art at the University of Arizona where she drifted into acting. Taking a range of jobs in Los Angeles she eventually found her calling in the improv comedy troupe the Groundlings, where she met her Bridesmaids writing partner, Annie Mumalo. After appearing in Knocked Up Wiig was invited by Judd Apatow to write a screenplay. "Annie had been to seven weddings in two years and we thought it would be a great [scenario for] a lot of female characters. So we bought a how-to-write-a-screenplay book and started writing. We didn't really know what we were doing at all."
Wiig is grateful to Apatow for helping get the script into shape. "He had ideas for scenes that ended up in the movie. He guided us throughout the whole thing. I think his movies are that perfect combination of really, really funny jokes and sweet moments of heart, and we wanted both of those things in our movie."
Bridesmaids screens from Thu 16 Jun.