Stealing the show
No doubt you were offered lots of comedies after your role in Bridesmaids. Why did you go with Identity Thief?
Well, right off the bat, Jason Bateman. I find him charming. He’s a good family guy, he’s great with his kids and I think all of that good, normal life comes through on the screen. He has always been one of my favourites. So when I got a call he wanted to go to lunch, I was like, ‘Whaaaat?’ It’s a little overwhelming. Your character steals people’s identities and spends up big with their credit cards. How did you go about creating her unique style?
I always weirdly start with a wig. It’s my favourite thing to do. I go wig shopping and ... I don’t know why it’s where I start. The whole wardrobe became such a part of who she was. It was so fun to cobble that together. I love the fact that this insecure, lonely person pretends to be so outgoing and it comes out in her clothes; that made me really feel like her. Can you relate? Is a lot of comedy about deflecting insecurity?
I don’t have the dark side that people are always like: ‘You do comedy! You’re actually really tragic and dark!’ I’m like, ‘I kinda like my life’. Where does your funniness come from?
I blame my funny parents. We had dinners around the table and if you could tell a good story that made everybody laugh ... It’s not like we were all telling jokes, but it was really fun. If you can make people laugh, it’s such a nice feeling.
With all your recent successes, what most excited your parents?
My dad fully went bonkers with Bridesmaids. In my hometown (Illinois), there was a life-size cut-out of all of us in our pink dresses and one day I got a picture – my mum and dad were sitting in our living room with coffee, and I was sitting between them. They had taken the cardboard cut-out. I thought, ‘OK, they’ve gone crazy. It’s official’. What career moment did you go crazy over?
The first time I got a regular job, which was Gilmore Girls, I bawled my eyes out. I couldn’t believe I was actually gonna have a steady job. I’d never, ever had that, not even slightly, not even a show that failed. I felt like it was the first time I could say I was an actor. I had never actually said it. I felt embarrassed: ‘I’m not really, I do all these other jobs ... ’ What jobs did you do before Gilmore Girls?
In New York, I did nine million waiter jobs in every restaurant on Earth, and I nannied. When I moved to LA, I worked at the YMCA, at a Starbucks and I nannied a lot. Then I was a PA and a production manager. I did anything I could get my hands on. You and Jason Bateman beat each other up regularly in Identity Thief. Could you take him in a real fight?
I wanna say yes, probably because I would fight dirty. That was a lot of fighting, especially in 41-degree Atlanta, over three 17-hour days ... But there’s no way to fake the fight stuff. It’s like a really hard exercise class except the class goes for like, 17 hours, and you have to keep your energy up every time. Did you get hurt?
I bloodied his nose twice and he threw me to the ground really hard. I had bruises everywhere. I kept pulling weird muscles. How do people do full-blown action movies? They’ve just gotta be a wreck afterwards. I mean, I did like a comedy with a bunch of action in it and I almost killed myself. Where did you learn your throatchop fight move?
Well, I’m 5ft 2in (157.5cm) – how would I really get away if Jason was attacking me? It’d have to be pretty cheap. I could kick him in the male parts – but we’ve seen that.
Identity Thief opens today.
So then I thought, a solid punch to the throat would drop someone. So I kept asking, ‘Can I punch him in the throat?’ and bizarrely they said, ‘Yeah’. Then we ended up doing it again and again ... You’ve got a nasty side.
Apparently. If I was a street fighter, I would just gouge people’s eyes out. Identity Thief backs up the claim that Bridesmaids has widened the options for women in movies.
It was originally written for two men. Jason is the one that said, ‘What if it’s not a man?’ I have to say, Bridesmaids was a wake-up call, like, you can make all the women funny.
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