There is no stopping Rose Byrne in 2011. Not only is the actress busy with the hit show “Damages,” she’s in three movies hitting theaters in three months and they couldn’t be more different. Last month she starred in the low-budget horror sensation “Insidious” (one of the most financially successful films of the year, given its low budget), next month she’ll be part of the massive ensemble featured in “X-Men: First Class” and this weekend, she’s part of the troupe of actresses that lead Paul Feig‘s “Bridesmaids.”
Riding into theaters on a huge wave of buzz, the trailers for the film only tell half the story. While it’s every bit as raunchily hilarious as its well deserved R-rating suggests, the film also boasts a huge heart and even some social commentary. Both funnier and smarter than your average comedy, the film could hopefully change the ladies-led romcom landscape if it gets enough asses in the seats. In the film, Rose Byrne plays Helen, who believing she should be the maid-of-honor instead of Annie (Kirstin Wiig), battles her every step of the way on the path to Lillian’s (Maya Rudolph) wedding. It’s less of a big comic role than some of the parts in the film, but no matter. As Byrne told us in an interview during the press rounds for “Insidious,” the shoot was a rare opportunity to work with a cast of actresses and she admired just how talented and committed her castmates were.
“It’s sort of unusual to work with any actresses because usually there’s one role for a woman in a film and that’s it,” Byrne said. “And….you never get to work with your contemporaries. All those girls are serious, talented women from Groundlings, UCB [Upright Citizens Bridgade], but I was very thrilled and intimidated to be there.”
Though Byrne might have been nervous, the process and support that producer Judd Apatow gives to the production allowed her to be comfortable. “It’s a playground. Those films in a way are playgrounds, they really are. There’s a lot of room to experiment and have fun,” Byrne said. “But that’s how Judd works, through collaboration and encouragement — anything goes. It’s very liberating in that sense but also quite scary because you don’t know what’s going to happen. But it’s Judd, of course he’s going to make you funny, he’s going to make you the best version of what you brought so I’ve been very, incredibly lucky.”
And if Apatow created the environment, Byrne was further buoyed buy the strong work ethic and fearlessness of her castmates, which in addition to Wiig and Rudolph also included funny folks like Wendi McLendon-Covey, Ellie Kemper and Melissa McCarthy. “They’re very smart, all those women, and I think they bring a lot of stuff home and they work on what’s funny and they work on things to bring to improv [on the set],” Byrne enthused about her colleagues. “And I would do that too, I would go home and work on the scene, and think about what was funny, and write down 10 lists, and try them the next day. It’s just about throwing yourself in the fire. Baptism by fire. Just go for it. If it fails it fails, but at least you tried. If you’re gonna fail then fail proudly. It’s only defeat when you stop trying. That’s sort of learned from those girls.”
“And also, they never really laugh, they’re so good at keeping a straight face,” Byrne added. “I was a pretty good audience, I laugh a lot. I’m Australian, I find the humor in things. I definitely had to try to keep my game face on, whereas those girls are pretty good, they’re hard to make crack.”
But it wasn’t a completely new experience for Byrne. She already had one Apatow film — “Get Him To the Greek” — under her belt so she was familiar with organic approach taken with his productions. “I was just from working on ‘Get Him To the Greek’ so I had a loose idea and knew how Judd’s films tend to take shape. You have a script and you kind of work from there a little bit and they improv and there’s things that come up and they stay. At the end of stay, a lot of script remains the same. It was probably about 90% of what was on the page and 10% improv or something like that.”
“The initial script I read was essentially pretty much the same. I think it definitely evolved and I think in the edit things really popped — what works, what’s funny, what’s working, etc.,” Byrne explained. “Essentially it was [about] the same thing. It’s about this woman’s life and this wedding being a catalyst for the complete disintegration of her. And that for me is still the throughline for ‘Bridesmaids’ when you see it, for me personally. And I think Wiig is so wonderful in it, because she’s so tender, and she brings such a heart to the role. I think you just really care about her, and she has such charm and endearing qualities and she brings such a physical comedy and grace to the film that is really rarely seen.”
And we would definitely agree. We can’t say enough good things about “Bridesmaids” but definitely see it for yourself when it opens this Friday, May 13th.