Interview: Paul Feig

We have the DVD exclusive interview with Bridesmaids director Paul Feig, he reflects on his time while shooting the film.

So what was it about Bridesmaids that attracted you to the project? Why did you want to do this movie?

Well, I love Kirsten (Wiig), I always have. I actually cast her in her first movie, unbeknownst to me. It was a very tiny part in this Christmas movie I made years ago – and I have always followed her career. Also, I have always wanted to work with women. The women I know who are funny, are so funny and I always felt that they get very under-served in a lot of comedy and so it was exciting when this script was first brought to my attention by Judd (Apatow). The fact that there were all these roles for women and it seemed like such a great opportunity to cast a lot of these funny women that I’ve either known or known about or wanted to find and it really seemed to work out well.  

Did you use a lot of improvisation to really find these characters and how did that work out?

We had a great script that Kristen and Annie (Mumolo) wrote, but then once you hire people, you want them to own the characters and you want them to show more of the characters, so by doing improv in rehearsals and by going through the script and talking with them and letting them formulate themselves, then they become very three-dimensional characters. It then makes it easier for us because the comedy comes organically from them and we’re not trying to generate jokes. We’re more getting inspired by them and by their characters, which makes us go, “Oh, you should try this,” or like, “Talk about this,” and they’ll just go off on a tangent and funny things will come out of it, then you start writing that down. It’s a slow process, where suddenly it starts to take on a third dimension and it becomes very relatable. 

Do you think it’s naturally a funny situation that when people get married, they suddenly have all these different people from different walks of their life in the same room?

Yeah, it’s such a weird situation. The only other thing I can equate it with is a high school, where you are sent to this one building because you happen to be the same age and live in the same area and this just happens to be that you are related to or know the same people, you are put into this group. It’s a very unnatural thing to do, but for comedy, it couldn’t be more gold for us because conflict is comedy and there is no more conflict than a bunch of people stuck together who don’t necessarily want to be together. 

Do you think you’ve found anything out about women, hearing all these women talk and improvise?
Well, yeah, I’ve always loved women and just thought they were awesome, so I’ve only got to have even more of an appreciation, especially for funny women, because they are so smart, resourceful and so open and willing to just do whatever it takes to make things funny. They care less about how they look than if it’s going well and if the comedy is being served and if they are being honest and true to the characters. I couldn’t be more in awe of this cast and just of female actresses in general. 

So there was not too much persuasion when they got to the food poisoning scene? They all seemed to jump into that. 
They dove into that with a gusto. I felt almost guilty about it. It was one of those sequences where you say, “Look, we’ve got to do what we’ve got to do, so let’s just get in there.” They all rolled up their sleeves and had so much fun with it and were such troopers. I felt bad and they were like, “Oh, it’s fine, we’re having a great time.” So it was great. 

Can you talk a little about casting Melissa McCarthy, because the character of Megan is so awesome and out there and funny and strange?

She was great. That role was always in the script and then Melissa came in and made it her own, as did all the women and just brought this extra layer – like they all did – to it and suddenly had all these details she wanted, like wearing pearls all the time and this carpal tunnel bandage on her hand that we never explain and just this real attitude of being really tough but also probably the smartest one of the bunch, the one who is going to get Annie’s life back together. It was a collaboration and to see her working with Kristen and Annie and this character coming out and just making it blossom was really thrilling. 

You’ve worked with Judd Apatow for years, starting on Freaks And Geeks together, so how has that relationship changed? 

It’s exactly the same and that’s why I love working with Judd. I’ve known him since he was about 17 years old – we were all stand-up comedians together and had the same groups of friends and all used to hang out. We bonded even back then over just a similar sense of humour and we have a very similar philosophy on how stories should be told, which is that they need to be really honest and emotional and come out of a real place and then you can put the funny on top of that. We haven’t worked together since Freaks; we had always been friends but hadn’t really worked together and it was like no time had gone by when we sat down. He’s my favourite person to work with. 

Do you think it is important to keep the emotion and to keep it grounded in something heartfelt and real?

You have to have the emotion. It has to be grounded otherwise there is nothing for the audience to invest in, because then you are just watching people being crazy. It’s hard to invest in crazy people, unless you understand why those crazy people are crazy and you want them to succeed, you want them to become less crazy or to figure things out. The baseline always has to be an honest, real story and then out of that, you can throw in the conflicts and the obstacles they have to overcome. That’s usually where the comedy comes from. 

Is it hard to keep the storyline where you want it to go with all these talented people improvising, because you must get so much stuff you could use?

So much stuff. But I mean, we always have a great blueprint for every scene so we know what we need out of the scene. Even if people start to drift in the improv into ‘crazy land’, I will let them go a lot of the time, because you never know that that might end up being something that we want to use or it’s so funny that we will put it in. You steer the ship in little increments, like, “Let’s go back over here, let’s go back over here,” but I never, ever tell people, “No, that’s wrong,” because there is no right or wrong in comedy, it’s only what ends up being funny to people. 

Does this mean we have a lot for the DVD extras?

There’s a lot for the DVD extras. There will be hours of entertainment.

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  • Elisha says
    I like his way's of understand of thing/life.

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