Af­ter a brief foray into TV, Rebel Wil­son is back on track with ‘Pitch Per­fect 2’

Los Angeles Times - - CALENDAR - By Amy Kauf­man amy.kauf­man@la­times.com

Rebel Wil­son and the Bar­den Bel­las sing for re­demp­tion.

There aren’t many ac­tresses who’d be ex­cited about play­ing a char­ac­ter named “Fat Amy.” But when Rebel Wil­son was of­fered the role of an a cap­pella singer who threat­ens to fin­ish com­peti­tors “like a cheese­cake” in the “Pitch Per­fect” fran­chise, she didn’t think twice.

“I know 95% of ac­tresses wouldn’t want to do it, but I thought she was the fun­ni­est char­ac­ter,” said Wil­son, 29. “When you do com­edy, you have to use what you’ve got — whether you’ve got a big nose, you’re su­per tall, su­per short or what­ever — you’ve gotta use it be­cause that’s all you have.”

Four years af­ter mov­ing to West Hol­ly­wood from her na­tive Australia, Wil­son looks just as she did when we first saw her in “Brides­maids” that year — with­out the Mex­i­can drink­ing worm tat­too. One thing is dif­fer­ent, though. Sit­ting in the lobby of the Chateau Mar­mont a few weeks ago, she wore a nice dress, be­cause she’d come from a photo shoot. Oth­er­wise, she said, she would have been in sweat­pants. Al­ways sweat­pants. She loves them so much that they’re go­ing to be the cor­ner­stone of a plus-size cloth­ing line she’s cre­at­ing with Tor­rid out this fall. “It’ll be like, glam­orous sweat­pants,” she said with a laugh. “A few dia­mantes. They call it ath­leisure.”

Af­ter Wil­son ap­peared in 2012’s “Pitch Per­fect,” it seemed her ca­reer was primed to take off. Her Fat Amy — ini­tially billed as a lesser role along­side Anna Ken­drick’s lead — ended up as the movie’s most quotable char­ac­ter. She was tapped to host the MTV Movie Awards and cre­ated ABC’s “Su­per Fun Night,” in which she also starred. But the TV show was panned by crit­ics and can­celed af­ter just one sea­son; Wil­son said the rig­or­ous sched­ule also kept her from ac­cept­ing roles in the films “Snow­piercer” and “Into the Woods.”

“My movie ca­reer was re­ally bur­geon­ing, and I had to go away from that for over a year, which was re­ally dis­ap­point­ing,” she said. “So now it’s awe­some, be­cause I think I’m back on track.” In­deed, Wil­son has a hand­ful of projects lined up: She re­cently wrapped “Grimsby,” a com­edy star­ring Sacha Baron Co­hen, as well as “Kung Fu Panda 3.” Plus, she’s about to go to New York to start film­ing “How to Be Sin­gle,” a ro­man­tic com­edy about two best friends co-star­ring Dakota John­son.

But first, of course, comes “Pitch Per­fect 2,” out May 15. Wil­son has a lot more to do in the se­quel, which be­gins with her hang­ing Cirque du Soleil style from the ceil­ing dur­ing a per­for­mance with her col­lege a cap­pella group, the Bar­den Bel­las. The stunt goes awry when Fat Amy accidentally ex­poses her bot­tom half to the au­di­ence, in­clud­ing the pres­i­dent of the United States. “I stretched ev­ery day to be able to do that,” Wil­son said of the aerial stunt she per­formed 27 feet above the ground. “I’m afraid of heights, so I said I’d only do it three times. I told them, ‘I’ll do it three times. I’ll crush it, so turn all your cam­eras on.’ And I nailed it.”

Be­fore join­ing the “Pitch Per­fect” se­ries, Wil­son was no stranger to a cap­pella. She was part of a group at her sub­ur­ban Syd­ney high school — 12 Voice Choir.

“It was supremely dorky,” she said. “I went to a Chris­tian school, so we’d sing re­li­gious church hymns at wed­dings and fu­ner­als. It was a bit stupid.”

She par­took in school mu­si­cals too, such as “Grease,” but never landed the lead role. So per­form­ing in “Pitch Per­fect” has helped her scratch that mu­si­cal theater geek itch. Not that ev­ery­thing on the set of the se­quel was al­ways in per­fect har­mony. For one thing, shoot­ing took place in sum­mer, and Wil­son was con­stantly sweaty. And El­iz­a­beth Banks, mak­ing her di­rec­to­rial de­but, ap­par­ently took lit­tle pity on the cast. “I thought be­cause she’s a fel­low actress she’d be eas­ier on us, but in a way she was harder on us,” Wil­son said. “She was like, ‘You don’t need a makeup check.’ I was like, ‘I do! I’m sweat­ing!’ She was a taskmas­ter.”

The bud­get was also big­ger — Wil­son es­ti­mates triple the $14 mil­lion the first was made for — and the cast was more well known. Louisiana lo­cals of­ten showed up, seek­ing out Wil­son and co-star Ken­drick.

What hadn’t changed, Wil­son said, was the way she felt about her­self. She still ate carbs on set, even while her co-stars barely ate lunch. “Ken­drick and Brit­tany Snow both have waists like that,” she said, scrunch­ing her in­dex fin­ger and thumb to­gether. “They’re ridicu­lous. They don’t eat much at lunch — put it that way.

“Just be­cause other peo­ple are tak­ing Ad­der­all to lose weight — most ac­tresses in town are on that stuff — if I want to eat dessert ev­ery night, I’m gonna do that. …I don’t want to en­cour­age any­one to be un­healthy, like binge eat or get a whole bag of chips and eat it — eat the whole cheese­cake. I’m not pro­mot­ing that. But peo­ple shouldn’t be so ob­ses­sive and try to starve them­selves, be­cause they think, ‘Oh, that’s what you do in Hol­ly­wood.’ It’s not. You don’t have to do that. There are plenty of girls who aren’t like that.”

Ri­cardo DeAratanha Los An­ge­les Times

REBEL WIL­SON trades her fa­vorite sweat­pants for a pitch-per­fect dress, apro­pos as her next film out is “Pitch Per­fect 2.”

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