Discovering an ‘ altar ego’ has helped put one offbeat Aussie actress on Hollywood’s radar,
No longer a Hollywood bridesmaid.
REBEL Wilson can divide her professional life into two distinct periods – before
Bridesmaids and after Bridesmaids. Before she teamed with Little Britain ’ s Matt Lucas to play one of star Kristin Wiig’s slightly creepy flatmates, Wilson had built up a solid career in Australian television and stand- up comedy, thanks to her work on shows such as The Wedge, Bogan Pride and Thank God You’re Here.
But after Bridesmaids was released to rave reviews and box- office glory – it went on to make nearly $ 300 million around the world – Wilson was suddenly hot property in Hollywood and signed up for another five films that very week.
The sudden rush of work not only enabled her to capitalise on a steadily building buzz she had built, thanks to a live comedy show she had done with Lucas and Russell Brand, but also allowed her to move out of what she calls her ‘‘ Venice Beach drug den’’ to some more impressive digs in her adopted home of Los Angeles.
‘‘ There was a bed and a chair in the apartment – it was bad,’’ says Wilson of her old lodgings. ‘‘ Now I live in a much better area and filming the movies last year took me to New York, Atlanta and Louisiana, so I was getting to see so many different places.
‘‘ I went from working maybe a couple of days a month and trying to work more to having so much work that it’s ridiculous and I can’t humanly fit it in.
‘‘ Once Bridesmaids came out it was like ’ she is so interesting and different – I want her for my movie’.’’
With her co- stars now including Reese Witherspoon, Kirsten Dunst and Cameron Diaz, the producers of Wilson’s new Aussie comedy, A Few Best Men, were lucky to snaffle her before she took off. Filmed in and around Sydney last year, the Stephen Elliot- directed ( Priscilla Queen of the
Desert ) A Few Best Men continues the wedding- related theme of Wilson’s films.
She plays the sister of the bride and daughter of a cocaine- hoovering Olivia Newton- John at a wedding that goes spectacularly wrong, courtesy of the visiting British best men.
On a flying visit back to Australia to promote the film recently, Wilson just found time to walk the red carpet with ONJ at the film’s premiere in Sydney – and be spectacularly embarrassed by her assembled family.
‘‘ My grandparents were there and they were all like ‘ can we meet Olivia?’,’’ Wilson says, laughing.
‘‘ Poor Olivia, she is so nice and took photos with all of them.
‘‘ My uncle was there saying if she ever wanted a free tennis lesson to give him a call and gave her his number.
‘‘ She is just so lovely. Sometimes people’s persona is not how they are in real life but you meet her and think no wonder she is an iconic Australian.’’
While Wilson says the cast and crew were very well taken care of on A Few Best
Men, the contrast couldn’t be starker between her early TV work in Australia and the creature comforts of her new career in the US.
‘‘ When I first started on Australian TV, particularly on SBS, you would just wear your own clothes and at lunchtime someone would just go to the Mcdonald’s drive-through,’’ she says.
‘‘ In Hollywood they have full catering and trailers.’’
She says in the past she has both gained and lost roles because of her body shape but most recently she was taken on by the prestigious William Morris Endeavour agency, which represents the biggest names in Hollywood, precisely because they didn’t have anyone who looked like her on their books.
That said, Wilson says she is very much the minority in image- conscious La La Land. ‘‘ It’s weird,’’ she says, ‘‘ When they did Bridesmaids, with women of all different shapes, it was such a huge success.
‘‘ Apparently there are two million actors who live in Los Angeles and I would say that 98 per cent of them are glamorous.
‘‘ There will always be a place for the glamorous people, because sometimes entertainment is escapism, but also it is supposed to reflect life . . . so there’s always a place for real- looking people.’’
After having to stop the Jenny Craig program because of filming commitments, Wilson is looking forward to starting again soon. ‘‘ I have been filming a musical called
Pitch Perfect in Louisiana for the past few months and I played a character called Fat Amy,’’ she says.
‘‘ For my contract in that movie I had to stay the same size as what I was at that point. So I had lost 10kg and then had to maintain that for the whole movie, which is quite difficult to do.’’
She is also eagerly waiting to hear whether a much- mooted sequel to
Bridesmaids will go ahead. ‘‘ If there is no announcement in the next two months, then I’d say it probably isn’t going to happen,’’ she says.
A FEW BEST MEN
Now showing Village cinemas She is also learning to adjust to fame, saying on some days she is approached by up to 100 people wanting to have their photo taken with her.
Thankfully Lucas has been there as a mate and mentor.
‘‘ He’s kind of like an older brother,’’ Wilson says.
‘‘ He has been through it all before, having incredible success with Little
Britain, so he is really good with advice about what it’s like.’’
Wilson is also excited about the premiere of her film with Dunst and compatriot Isla Fisher, Bachelorette, at this month’s Sundance Festival.
With yet another wedding theme, Wilson concedes that comparisons will be made with Bridesmaids but says that the tone is darker.
‘‘ She was incredible,’’ Wilson says of Dunst. ‘‘ She is so believable in the scenes that I think it has made me come across as a better actress.
‘‘ I was playing an Upper East Side New York girl, which is very far removed from what I am in real life, and acting opposite her made it so much more believable.’’
The plus- sized Wilson signed on as an ambassador for weight loss firm Jenny Craig last year, more from a desire to feel better about herself and broaden her range of potential roles rather than any specific health issues.